FOR decades it has been used by eager worshippers, busy parents and intrepid visitors as a place to park their cars.
However, in the eyes of council planners, that isn’t enough to make vacant land next to an old railway shed in Currie a car park.
Now, the facility is set to be lost, with planners insisting there is no need to replace it as it is not an “official” car park.
Residents in Currie have found that the area, which has room for about a dozen cars, has been closed off after the railway shed and its surrounding area was sold to a graphic design company.
Villagers have been told that the loss of what they saw as a handy local facility will not be considered as part of the planning process.
Edinburgh Pentlands MSP Gordon Macdonald said he was “surprised” by the council’s stance, and expressed concern that the parking area, which was used by worshippers at the local church, parents bringing children to playgroup and visitors to the Water of Leith, would not be replaced.
He said: “If it’s been used for 20-odd years for car parking it seems strange that the council can just turn round and say that’s immaterial.
“The on-street parking on Kirk Brae is very limited with very little scope to alleviate the situation other than retaining some of the off-street parking on the engine shed site.
“While the refurbishment of the old engine shed to create working areas, offices and meeting rooms is welcome, it shouldn’t be at the expense of the wider community.”
Teviot Creative is behind the plan to renovate the old railway shed, which was once part of the now obsolete Currie and Balerno Railway. It is believed that the shed was once used to store engines, and it may also have been used by Pentland Park Rangers for storage.
Company bosses, who have strong ties to the Currie and Balerno area, plan to significantly refurbish the old shed, keeping the external brickwork but constructing a new roof, mezzanine floor and internal walls.
A new orchard will be planted for the use of the company’s 25 staff, while a new public access to the Water of Leith walkway will also be provided.
Craig Hall, chief operating officer of Teviot Creative, was born in Currie before moving to Balerno.
He said: “We have a connection with the railway line. My great-great-grandfather, Sandy Hall, drove trains up and down the line, so when the opportunity came up to buy the shed and restore it to an international design hub we were keen. We are bringing 25 jobs in. I think we’ll be the biggest private employer in Currie and it’s going to be a stunning building.”
However, Mr Hall confirmed that the car parking would not be replaced by the company.
“We looked at whether there was any possibility of providing car parking, we surveyed the site at evenings and weekends and there were people staying there overnight and flytipping. There will be no public parking there. We can’t have a design studio and people dumping stuff with clients arriving.”
A council spokesperson said: “We have received an application to develop an existing building on a site near 16 Kirkgate, Currie. It will now be assessed and all comments will be taken into consideration.”
Graham Dane, chairman of Currie Community Council, said: “We pointed out the use of the area as a car park before the land went up for sale. We were overruled by the council who wanted to maximise their income. Their argument might be technically true, but it has been used as a car park for many years.”