Mine subsidence land to be new housing plot

The site near Little France has been sealed off to the public after being considered 'dangerous' in 2013. Picture: comp

The site near Little France has been sealed off to the public after being considered 'dangerous' in 2013. Picture: comp

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A MAJOR swathe of lucrative green-belt land destabilised through decades of coal mining is set to be revived as a site for up to 400 homes.

Edinburgh’s rich coal mining past has caused serious subsidence to Edmonstone Estate near Little France, which has been sealed off to the public after being considered “dangerous” in early 2013.

But the 20-hectare plot could now be brought back into use, after developers vowed to invest up to £8.5 million filling vast underground tunnels with concrete.

A planning bid by landowner Sheratan Ltd has been lodged to shore up the ground by grouting abandoned coal mines and mine shafts before capping off the work.

A neighbouring walled garden and eight-acre field, which already has planning approval for 114 homes, has been unaffected by undermining.

The News told in January how a landmark burial ground and crematorium could be created at the estate to cope with rising demand for graveyard sites over the next half-century.

But two other planning applications to construct either 173 or 396 houses have since been submitted.

An advanced survey carried out last month had apparently allowed the landowner to “act swiftly” to reinforce the ground due to “determined parties” continuing to trespass on the site.

A spokesman said: “As previous failures of the ground have occurred, it is obvious that the location of all the old ‘bell pits’ is not known and future collapse of the ground in other locations of the site cannot be discounted. The remediation plans proposed represent the only definitive long-term solution to ensuring public safety.”

Work to stabilise the land could begin later this year.

Pat Moore, director of Sheratan Ltd, said: “We are delighted to be lodging this application which will see us able to address the issue of heavy undermining of the site, a relic of Edinburgh’s mining past. “While the remediation strategy may take a considerable period of time to implement and the costs will be considerable, in order to permit the future safe use of the site we have no alternative.

“This situation also indicates the desperate need for a longer-term solution for the site, allowing it to be brought back into productive use, and is why we have brought forward proposals for both residential development and a cemetery.”

Pressure is mounting around the Capital to squeeze in about 30,000 properties by 2024, with land for almost 8000 homes still to be identified amid calls to unlock green space on the fringes of the city.

Housing targets, set by the Scottish Government, indicate that 107,500 new homes are needed in the country’s south-east in just over a decade.

Districts likely to shoulder the brunt include the western suburbs and south-east Edinburgh.