Botanic Gardens plan: Residents want court review

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CAMPAIGNERS have threatened to seek a judicial review after a controversial revamp of the Royal Botanic Garden was approved.

Planning permission has been granted to build new ­polytunnels, a glasshouse and a staff building at the Inverleith site.

The go-ahead was given following a split vote in which an alternate proposal to postpone the application and send developers back to the drawing board only narrowly failed to win enough support.

Botanics bosses had already agreed to compromise by abandoning plans to build a 200ft-long vehicle shed and scrapping outdoor street-style lighting.

Plants will also need to be grown around the new buildings to screen them off under the strict conditions.

Dr Alan Carson, who represents residents to the site’s north, said planning consultants had been “arrogant and condescending” and claimed there were legal grounds for a judicial review of the decision.

Community groups were left fuming, with four separate bodies including the Stockbridge and Inverleith Community Council and the Inverleith Society speaking out against the development, saying the “brutalist” buildings would have a major impact on the conservation area.

Community Council spokeswoman Pam Barnes said Botanics chiefs had been unreasonable.

She said: “They seemed to be in a hurry. I don’t think they should be in a hurry on this. They should have taken their time, done it properly, created a [masterplan] and consulted with neighbours.

“I really think the Botanics should go away and think again now. It’s not too late.”

The development is surrounded on three sides by houses in Inverleith Gardens, Inverleith Avenue, Montagu Terrace and Inverleith Avenue South.

Neighbours of the site had voiced their concerns at the size of the planned 4.5 metre-high glasshouse, asking for it to be moved away from nearby residential buildings. But Botanics director Dr David Rae said the site had been chosen ­specifically because it offered the best light for growing plants.

About 750,000 people visit the Royal Botanic Garden each year.

RBGE regius keeper Professor Stephen Blackmore described being granted planning permission as a “major milestone”.

He said: “Our bigger plans will put this research work on public display for the first time and will substantially reduce our carbon footprint.”

Planners’ report branded ‘appalling’

A REPORT recommending the demolition of a city centre landmark has been described as “appalling” by a leading member of the administration that produced it.

Plans to overhaul the former Scottish Provident building, left, in St Andrew Square by pulling down the building’s facade and partially demolishing sections of the upper building were suspended yesterday.

The decision was made after city planning vice-convener Sandy Howat slammed a report produced by officials recommending the transformation of the B-listed building should go ahead. Councillor Howat described the document as the “most appalling report I have even seen” in his time as vice-convener.

Committee members voted to carry out a site visit and listed building checks.

Both Historic Scotland and the Cockburn Association had opposed plans for the building.