Martin Hannan: Planners must be put in a jam

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The decision by the Scottish ministers to refuse planning permission for almost 700 houses at Cammo has been greeted with delight by campaigners against the development.

The battle is not yet won, however. It was made very clear that the decision against the proposal was taken on the grounds that there could be “prejudice” against the city’s Local Development Plan, and therein lies the rub.

For the LDP still contains the Cammo housing plan, even if councillors at the last minute put in a note that there was merit to the objections against it.

What all that means is that we still have an unholy mess regarding new housing for the west side of the city.

Edinburgh’s population is expanding and is predicted to go on growing for many years yet, and there is no doubt that new housing is necessary, and needed all over the city.

The nimby activists in numerous places such as Currie, Balerno, Corstorphine, Morningside, Portobello and elsewhere have made it clear they will oppose any development that intrudes into their enclaves. That is their perfect right, and I back them in doing so.

For there is not a single convincing reason why new large-scale housing developments should be allowed in such areas of the city when there is plenty of brownfield land still waiting to be developed. Yes, these sites are running out, but not until every last one of them has been used should there be any need to encroach on green belt land or conservation areas.

With the active connivance of planners, developers have alighted on the west side of the city as the place where expansion can take place on virgin land, and a quick look at the map would convince you of their case. It’s a bit daft to argue that it’s all untouchable green belt when you have a giant airport and the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland slap bang in the middle of the area. It would be a matter of relative ease for new housing to be permitted on the land between Heriot-Watt University and the airport, and the roads could be easily provided to allow such development to go ahead.

I don’t think there would be too many overwhelming objections to opening up the green belt at that location, and it would solve a lot of problems in one go. It is not in the LDP, however, so it is up to the Reporter who will study the plan to change it and allow development between the M8 and A8.

As for Cammo and Maybury, the current infrastructure on the existing west side just isn’t up to the task.

There is absolutely no way that any new housing developments should be allowed at Cammo or Maybury until and unless the roads situation there is sorted. That is a rule that should be adopted across the city – no new roads should mean no new houses.

It is complete nonsense to allow any more houses to be built when the roads cannot cope with existing traffic. Since no one in authority appears to have grasped this fact, all thoughts of development should be set aside until every town planner and councillor is forced to sit in a traffic jam at Maybury till they come to their senses.

A hot tip ahead of Ladies’ Day

IT’S Musselburgh Racecourse’s Ladies’ Day next Saturday, so good luck to all those fashionistas in the best-dressed contest. I was once at Aintree when the competition was won by . . . a man! That won’t happen next Saturday, will it?

Kenny will be sorely missed

THE news that Kenny MacAskill has decided to stand down as MSP for Edinburgh Eastern was not unexpected. Since he lost the job of Justice Secretary late last year, he has looked like a man who was seeking a fresh challenge.

As someone who was briefly his constituency convener, I can assure you that he has always enjoyed the respect and confidence of the local party membership.

Even in the days after he decided to release convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds, the SNP in general trusted that he had made the right decision. I disagreed with Kenny but absolutely knew that his was a courageous decision taken solely by himself for humanitarian reasons. He will be missed.

Cardiac drug might leave you seeing red

Having recently had a very unpleasant experience with a drug called Amiodarone, I think I have to warn anyone asked to take it to fully discuss the possible side-effects with their doctor.

Amiodarone definitely helps patients with cardiac arrhythmias, but the side-effects can be bad. For instance, if you take it please always use total sun block on any exposed part of your body, including your face, even if you are only going out in the sun for a few minutes. Otherwise you might end up with a red face in more ways than one.