PLANS to turn the former headquarters of failed airline Flyglobespan into new apartments have been given the go-ahead after councillors backed the local community and over-ruled planning officials.
Locals described the empty head offices, situated at West Mill Road in Colinton on greenbelt land near the Water of Leith, as “unsightly”. They have lain empty since the firm went bust in 2009 and have become a hotspot for vandalism and other antisocial behaviour.
Cala Homes’ application to demolish and build a high-end development of 14 apartments at the site was welcomed by locals and members of community body the Colinton Amenity Association (CAA).
However, city planning officers took a different view and, while recommending the demolition of the office building, wanted to refuse its replacement due to concerns about height and the site’s placement within the greenbelt.
CAA gathered a 184- signature petition in support of Cala’s plans and councillors this week voted to grant the permission.
David Bewsey, convener of the CAA planning sub-committee, said: “We felt that the planning officer’s recommendation for refusal in favour of a lesser structure would only jeopardise the development proposal and if the building was returned to offices we would face increased traffic as before or it would be left derelict to become unsafe.”
Colinton/Fairmilehead Councillor Jason Rust, who supplied a letter to the development management sub-committee of the planning committee, backing the application, said: “There was much support locally for the Cala application and I received no major concerns from residents. It was disappointing that refusal was initially recommended and I welcome the committee’s stance.
“There will be ancillary gains such as affordable housing and safer routes to schools contributions as well as additional green space and a reduction of cars. This site is much better suited to residential development than commercial purposes.”
A spokesperson for Cala Homes said: “We are pleased that the strength of local feeling was recognised.
“We now look forward to providing a high quality development which will bring a wide range of benefits for the local community, including improved access roads, landscaping and contributions for affordable housing and safer routes to schools.”
Budget airline Flyglobepsan entered administration just a week before Christmas in 2009, leaving thousands of passengers and its own cabin crew stranded abroad.
Around 650 people lost their jobs as the company collapsed, with many finding out from news reports. It has since emerged that some 40,000 Flyglobespan creditors – mostly passengers who paid for flights that never took off – have made claims against the company totalling around £40 million.
In March 2010, protected creditors – those who paid for flights on credit or Visa debit cards – recouped £12m through a consumer protection scheme.