1300 sign letter to build Portobello High in park

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More than 1300 people have signed a letter supporting the parliamentary bill which would allow the new Portobello High School to be built on “common good” park land.

The letter of support with 1350 signatures has been sent to parliament which has also published 66 objections to the proposed 
legislation.

The city council is also going through the process of renewing its planning permission to build on the land in case the parliamentary process takes longer than it hopes to be completed.

That will allow building work on the school to start as soon as the Bill is passed, providing MSPs support the plans, regardless of when that might be.

There had been concerns that the school building plan could be derailed by lengthy debate in parliament because the existing planning permission for the scheme is due to run out within months.

The private Bill would reclassify Portobello Park from “unalienable” to “alienable Common Good land” and open it up for schools-related development.

Members of Portobello Community Council will tonight debate the new planning application.

As MSPs on a four-strong committee prepare to hear evidence from key players on whether the law should be changed to allow construction to begin, campaigners in favour of the proposal said 
that the community council should heed the results of a recent public consultation exercise.

Sean Watters, chair of Portobello For A New School (PFANS) and joint secretary of Portobello Community Council, said: “If the local community is four to one in favour of the school going in the park, then the council should support that, support the Bill and support the new planning application This has been going on so long that people are a bit jaded.”

Mr Watters acknowledged that the community council
in Portobello was split on whether work should go ahead but called on it to follow the view expressed by local residents.

“There are a fairly large number of people on the council who are against the school being built on the park,” he said.

“In the past, the council has remained neutral but we have now had a consultation which showed overwhelmingly that people were in favour and we would expect the community council meeting to reflect that and come out in support.”

However, campaigners against the project said the fact city bosses had re-applied for planning permission meant the consultation process was flawed.

Alison Connelly, spokeswoman for the Portobello Park Action Group, said: “One of the main reasons put forward by the council during the 
public consultation when they were promoting the private Bill was that it would be 
quick.

“For them now to be back-tracking on that by saying that we need to extend the planning application suggests that perhaps they were not right about the speed of the Bill in the first place, which undermines the results of the 
consultation.”