Protest grows as council accused of misinformation

The Craighouse Campus

The Craighouse Campus

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Almost 3000 people have signed a petition against a major housing development over fears it will threaten a historic city woodland.

It comes as the Friends of Craighouse – which fears the development could become a “gated community” – accused the city council of spreading misinformation and using the issue of access to the site as a bartering tool with developers.

Rosy Barnes leads a protest against the development

Rosy Barnes leads a protest against the development

Edinburgh Napier University’s Craighouse campus in Morningside was sold to the Craighouse Partnership earlier this year in a deal that could see up to 200 homes built.

The £300 million project is run by a consortium, which includes Sundial Properties, Mountgrange and the university itself.

Friends of Craighouse have campaigned against the plans, currently at the, pre-planning application stage, amid fears it will destroy the area and threaten public access.

The group also claims the council’s head of planning John Bury included a number of inaccuracies in a letter about the development sent to Ian Murray MP.

In the correspondence, circulated widely to residents, Mr Bury said: “The site, when it was owned by the NHS, and prior to being taken over by Napier, was closed to the public and it is only since the 1990s that the university made it freely accessible to the public.

“The developers, who have bought the site, are under no obligation to continue to allow free access.”

But Friends of Craighouse Groups and Wood claim they have been “inundated” with e-mails from residents who say they have been using the site since when it was owned by the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

Rosy Barnes, spokeswoman and founder member of the group, said: “People have been freely using the site for decades.

“When a message comes out saying because Craighouse was only opened up when Napier took over – which was misinformation – and that there’s no obligation to have public access, that’s extremely concerning.

“Access should be safeguarded, not used as a bargaining chip.”

The several hundred strong group launched its petition calling for preservation of Craighouse a few weeks ago.

“We’ve already had an amazing response,” said Ms Barnes. “People are very fond of the Craighouse – it’s an important area of green space and one of Edinburgh’s seven hills.

“It’s significant for the whole of Edinburgh, not just locals.”

A spokesman for the city council said: “We have always stated there is a right of way on the site which will have to be maintained as part of any proposals.

“The current proposals for the disposal of the Craighouse Campus are out for public consultation.

“This is being carried out by the developers as part of the pre-application process and the council has not yet received any formal application.”