HOUSEBUILDERS are set to splash out almost £8 million on a new primary school after the Scottish Government ruled hundreds of new homes could be built on greenbelt land.
Planning regulations allowed Mactaggart & Mickel to ask the government to intervene after the city council failed to make a decision on an application lodged in April last year.
The delay was sparked by contracted talks over the city’s Local Development Plan (LDP) and a lack of council cash to fund infrastructure needed to complement the homes, such as roads and schools.
The developer has now been given the go-ahead for 600 homes in Gilmerton Station Road and the council has been told to reach an agreement to fund necessary school places within three months.
Mactaggart & Mickel has offered to cover the full £7.6m cost of a new primary school – but another £7.2m is needed to pay for additional places at Liberton High School.
Funding headaches have played a major role in holding up the LDP, with the Evening News previously revealing that the council faced an £800m black hole for schools and roads required to serve 32,000 new homes needed across the Capital by 2024.
City planning leader Ian Perry criticised the Scottish Government planning reporter’s decision to grant the appeal.
He said: “Clearly it would have been better to have completed the Local Development Plan before any site was released for development.
“I am disappointed that the reporter agreed to allow the appeal when half of the site is in the green belt.
“This is symptomatic of the pressure that we are facing from developers to release more green belt to satisfy Edinburgh’s housing demand. If we do not plan the release of green belt then we will be faced with further pressure on our schools and road infrastructure which we are already struggling to accommodate.
“The council will now work with the developer to secure the contributions which are required for transport improvements, education provision and affordable housing in the area.”
Ken Hopkins, strategic land manager at Mactaggart & Mickel Homes, said the firm had faced difficulty finding common ground with the council.
He said: “We have been in protracted discussions with the city council on how primary school provision should be delivered in south Gilmerton.
“However, it is a consequence of the frustration caused by the lack of a considered and comprehensive strategy from the council to deliver this that we have offered to fully fund the construction of a new primary school.”