CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save the historic Craighouse campus have lodged a formal complaint after developers started work based on ten-year-old planning consent.
Protest group Friends of Craighouse fears planning permission granted for a new Napier University base in 2002 could be used to tear down trees and rip up green space.
It believes its case is strong enough to warrant an independent audit and judicial review.
A deadline for work to begin on a creative industries building for the university, which is scaling down operations before moving out completely, had been due to expire on June 26.
But new owner the Craighouse Partnership, comprising Sundial Properties, Mountgrange Investment and the university, began digging a trench on the site days before the cut-off.
The developers also smoothed over conditions attached to the original proposals, with city council chiefs accepting fresh plans for tree felling and tarmac paths in the woodland, while removing the requirement for archaeological investigations.
Now, Friends of Craighouse has written to the council demanding a review and has vowed to take the issue to the courts if necessary. Campaign leader Rosy Barnes said: “This challenge is essential. Councillors and officials have tried to play down the importance of this consent.
“Not only is it completely inappropriate now Napier’s leaving, but planners confirm it allows destruction of green space, woodland to be ripped out and car parks put in, without even having to build the building intended.”
“We have been left with no choice but to make a formal legal complaint.
“We are calling for an independent audit and will go to judicial review if necessary.”
When asked to clarify its digging of a trench earlier this year, the Craighouse Partnership stated that it was within its rights to begin work and that its “preferred outcome for Craighouse is conversion of the existing category A listed buildings to residential use”.
A spokesman for the consortium previously said of the 2002 consent: “It is important that we do not let this lapse and by commencing development, we have now safeguarded that consent for all time.”
A council spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that we have received the complaint, which we will now investigate.”