Comment: Capital’s green vision at stake over Little France housing

The planning application site can be seen here bounded in red. Picture: contributed
The planning application site can be seen here bounded in red. Picture: contributed
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The future of the old Royal High has been dominating recent debate about the development of the Capital.

The first big test of the new city council’s planning credentials, however, has come a week earlier with plans to build 750 homes behind the Royal Infirmary. The scrubland at the Wisp is designated as green belt so any building will inevitably be controversial to some degree, but the proposals have attracted support from the neighbouring communities.

It is easy to understand why. The scrubland involved is popular as an official motorbike racing track. The developers are promising to transform it, preserving a signficant amount of green space, providing cycle and walk ways and building almost 200 ‘affordable’ homes. They are also offering what would presumably be millions of pounds towards the cost of a new Castlebrae High School.

The downside is a significant scaling back of one of the city’s most ambitious green projects, the vision of a woodland and country park next to Craigmillar Castle, linking Edinburgh with Midlothian.

Is the trade-off worth making in order to fast-track the new school? It is a severe test for the city’s twin aims of providing housing and beautiful green space.