Housing plan for Telferton allotments rejected

The campaign to save the allotments stretches back to 1998. Picture: Susan Burrell

The campaign to save the allotments stretches back to 1998. Picture: Susan Burrell

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to build dozens of new homes on the site of historic allotments have been rejected.

Green-fingered residents have tended allotments at Telferton, between Craigentinny and Portobello, for more than 90 years.

But Avant Homes, which owns the land, wanted to construct flats and houses on the site – currently designated “open land” in the council’s city-wide planning blueprint.

Its proposals have now been knocked back at a council planning meeting, but the developer has yet to rule out appealing the decision to the Scottish Government.

Rachel Purnell, a representative of the allotments, said councillors had shown 
“recognition of the huge benefits that allotments provide, not just in encouraging healthy eating and exercise, but also for mental health, general wellbeing and social contact”.

She said: “The application was deeply unpopular, receiving 281 comments, with only one per cent in favour of the proposal [and] 278 against.

“This, along with a submitted petition of over 3000 signatures, showed the huge support within the local community for saving the allotments.

“The public gallery at the council chambers was full to capacity with standing room only.

“The local community and plot holders are pleased that the planning committee recognises the site is more valuable to the community as allotments and open space.

“It was fantastic to see that opposition to the proposal was unanimous and cross-party. The allotments have been worked and managed by the local community for over 90 years – they were set up by a local man on unused council land in 1923.

“We can now look at our options for securing this site for future generations to enjoy.”

Avant Homes previously reduced its plans for the land from 32 homes to 28 after “extensive public consultation”.

It said 42 allotments would also be kept on site – a move it argued would “safeguard” the long-term future of the current “unauthorised” plots.

But residents insisted the scheme would lead to a significant reduction in allotment space and harm local wildlife.

Andrew Trigger, strategic land manager for Avant Homes, said: “Naturally we are disappointed by the outcome of the committee meeting.

“We believe our proposal was balanced by guaranteeing allotments on the Telferton site for the future which could have given those in the city without a garden the ability to enjoy the outdoors along with an element of sensitively designed housing in an area where there are a shortage of homes. We will consider the decision of the committee before deciding on our next steps but [we] are happy to meet with the current occupiers to discuss their concerns.”