A MINISTER has been brought in to bridge the gap between developers and campaigners opposed to a controversial housing development.
Edinburgh Napier University’s Craighouse campus was sold to the Craighouse Partnership last year and plans to build 200 flats on the site are being drawn up.
Campaigners and community groups have opposed the plans, saying the proposals to redevelop the historic beauty spot amount to “excessive” development which will destroy the grounds and threaten public access.
Now a new community forum has been set up by the developer which community groups are being urged to join.
The Craighouse Community Liaison Forum (CCLF) will be independently chaired by Rev Dr Derek Browning from Morningside Parish Church.
It is described as a sounding board for groups to discuss the proposals and air any grievances about the development.
The Craighouse Partnership has also said that the community will have an opportunity to comment on all aspects of the proposals as they progress.
Rev Browning said: “I am pleased to accept the role of independent chair of the newly established CCLF. I am aware of the concerns expressed by some in the community at what the development might mean for public access to the site.
“It is important that local groups have a forum in which they can raise these concerns direct with the developers themselves and I am happy to help facilitate that.
“It may not be possible to resolve all the concerns raised, but I am hopeful that by bringing together all the interested stakeholders in one room we can have an open discussion and, where possible, come to an understanding on the best reasonable future for the site.”
A host of community groups have been invited to attend the first forum on March 14. Among those is Friends of Craighouse Grounds and Wood which has been running a high-profile campaign to preserve the green space from excessive new-build development.
Campaign leader, Rosy Barnes, said: “The grounds and buildings at Craighouse are widely used by the public and highly protected by law.
“We look forward to engaging with The Craighouse Partnership to try to ensure any proposals would be acceptable to the local community and compatible with the existing policies and protections that preserve the green space and woodland of this site.”
William Gray Muir, director of Edinburgh-based Sundial Properties and member of the Craighouse Partnership, said: “I am pleased that such a well-known and respected local figure as Dr Browning has agreed to chair the CCLF.
“The partnership is committed to working with local people in an open manner and that’s why we’ve asked an independent chair to lead the CCLF, to help ensure that all views, no matter how many and varied, are considered.”