DOZENS of community activists were today set to hold a protest outside the City Chambers, calling for a probe into the proposed sale of a depot on the edge of Inverleith Park.
Controversial proposals to sell off the former council depot to develop housing have sparked outrage, with a petition by the Save Inverleith Park campaign attracting around 8000 signatures.
Campaigners today called for an end to plans to sell off the three-acre site to property developers, and an internal inquiry into the process that made it possible.
Fiona Houston, of the campaign group, said: “We are protesting about the city economic development department’s proposal to sell off part of Inverleith Park, and we are protesting against the dubious way in which the planning designation was changed to make it possible.
“The part of the park in question has always been within the geographical historic boundaries of the park since 1889 when the park was set up.
“The planning department suddenly changed the designation on this piece of the park in 2010 to allow development.
“They did this after the public inquiry stage of the Local Plan was over, so nobody – including Friends of Inverleith Park, the community council or local councillors – were aware of it, and, more importantly, could do anything about it.
“We want the process by which this happened investigated because it’s very dubious to say the least.”
Meanwhile, city chiefs have insisted that they won’t press ahead with the sale of the depot until after final decisions are made on privatisation plans. A report by Dave Anderson, the council’s director of city development, said options for the site continue to be considered as part of a “council-wide depot rationalisation programme”.
He said that the process is likely to be delayed until the outcome of the alternative business models (ABM) project is known.
Mr Anderson said: “No further action will be taken to progress the disposal until the ABM process has been concluded, the current space planning exercise has been completed, a report made to council and the site formally declared as surplus.”
Any sale of the site is expected to fund a new replacement depot, likely to be at Inch Park in the south-east of the city.
Ms Houston, who lives in Comely Bank, said: “If the council are not going to use it as the depot, it should be parkland use and not sold off for housing.
“There’s lots of very strong feelings in the community about it and lots of ideas about what it could be. We would like it to be some kind of green space – some kind of community garden.
“It is land for the people of Edinburgh – it’s not for the council to sell off as it sees fit.”
She added: “The council’s economic development department thinks that public parkland is there to sell off for development, and I think it’s a really dangerous precedent.
“Once this land is sold, it’s gone forever.”
Portobello Park battle rumbles on – Pages 20-21