Campaigners lose Dreghorn development battle

Councillor Jason Rust says Colinton residents will have to accept the decision. Picture: Toby Williams
Councillor Jason Rust says Colinton residents will have to accept the decision. Picture: Toby Williams
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A DECADE-long battle to stop development on former army polo fields at Dreghorn has been lost after the council approved plans to build 69 houses.

City planning chiefs had previously twice rejected proposals, which community groups claim could lead to Colinton’s population doubling in the coming years, on the basis it was not compatible with their local plan.

But the decision was overturned by a Scottish Government reporter and this week the Dreghorn Loan Development was finally given the go-ahead by the planning committee.

Campaigners against the residential estate expressed disappointment with the decision and said the focus now was to work with developers Taylor Wimpey and Miller Homes.

David Bewsey, planning convener for Colinton Amenity Association (CAA), which opposed the development from the offset, said it was “desperately disappointing”.

But he said he was pleased one of the conditions for approval involved a management plan for Dreghorn Woods to ensure it is looked after.

He said: “We have fought the fight, we have lost, so we are working now to make sure we get the best for the woodland management plan and take that forward.

“I think it’s nearly 12 years that this has gone on for and it is obviously regrettable that it is going ahead despite the objections and concerns expressed by residents.

“But I think we now have to put it behind us and make the best of it as a community and continue to work with the developers. We want to make sure the site is as good as it can be, so now it’s a case of watch this space.”

A quarter of the development will be affordable homes with four one-bedroom flats, two two-bedroom terrace houses and nine flats that are a mixture of one and two bedroom properties.

A landscaped park, with a footpath giving access to the Pentlands, is to be built on the west side of the development.

Peter Gray, chairman of the CAA, said there were still concerns over the increase in traffic to the area with access to the development being off Dreghorn Loan.

He said: “The junction is quite horrendous at the moment and the development is only going to make it worse.

“It’s a main bus route for children going to school so there are concerns about that, but the decision has been made so we are going to have to accept it.”

Councillor Jason Rust, who once described the situation as “a black day for Colinton”, said people had gradually become resigned to the development after the Scottish Government’s decision last year.

He said: “We did absolutely everything we could, but for the past few months it has been a case of having to accept that it would get the go-ahead.

“We fought it for a number of years and didn’t want the decision but realistically we have to accept where we are now and do the best for the area.

“One of the key things that people raised was wanting to maintain the aspect of the Pentland Hills and ensure their view remained as good as possible which we have been assured will happen.”

Comings and goings

Plans to develop housing on the polo fields were first drawn up in 1999, prompting angry residents to raise £50,000 in a failed bid to buy the land from the Ministry of Defence.

Miller and Taylor Woodrow submitted a new planning application in 2004 for 47 houses, eight homes and a new access road. More than 1100 people signed a petition against it, and another 900 people objected.

The developers then appealed against the decision but withdrew before a public inquiry.

A new application submitted in March 2011 was refused three months later, but developers Taylor Wimpey and Miller Homes successfully appealed to the Scottish Government.