Councillors reject ‘Minecraft’ housing development near Craiglockhart

DEVELOPERs were yesterday accused of “paying lip service” to affordable homes policies as councillors rejected plans to demolish a former popular pub.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 7:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th January 2019, 7:38 pm
Lanark Road, The Blue Goose. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Proposals to raze the Blue Goose on Lanark Road were refused, as one Edinburgh City councillor slammed the planned designs as “Minecraft” housing.

A committee heard claims that the developers of the site next to the Water of Leith close to Craiglockhart tabled their affordable homes plans too late in the process, and also said the proposals would go against green belt rules.

Developers wanted to build 25 flats on the site, along with 16 car parking spaces. Affordable housing was not proposed for the site, but a commuted sum of £281,000 for the council to build affordable homes elsewhere was tabled. The proposals consisted of five one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom and four three-bedroom flats within a two- to four-storey block with gardens, terraces and balconies on the green belt site.

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Planning officers admitted that developers approached affordable housing teams and registered social landlords (RSLs) too late in the process to be able to amend designs to take suggestions on board to provide affordable units on site.

Vice-planning convener, Cllr Maureen Child, criticised the developers, saying: “I’m concerned that developers are involving affordable housing  providers early enough and this has been designed without that thought.”

Cllr Jo Mowat said the development had merits but too much was being “crammed” onto the site.

She added: “It’s quite an attractive development but to approve it, we have to twist our policies. I think we are making too many compromises for this site.”

Cllr Chas Booth described the plans as a “Minecraft development” and added: “We have our affordable housing policy for a good reason and that is that we don’t want to create ghettos of affordable housing. The developer in this case, it appears, has given lip service to our affordable housing policy.

“Only after they have created their design have they had conversations with affordable housing – that’s completely unacceptable. They need to genuinely put forward houses that people can afford because that is the desperate need in our city.”

Planning convener Cllr Neil Gardiner called for the proposals to be turned down on green belt and affordable housing grounds.

He said: “The developer has made no attempt to engage with RSLs and very little attempt to engage with our department.

“They came to the department with a concrete proposal on paper and that’s far too late in the process.

“I hope the development community is listening. If you are meaningfully going to engage with the policy, you should be doing it at the start of the process to find out what’s possible.”