Court rejects plans for homes opposed by ex-Hibs boss

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A DEVELOPER that tried to build flats in the New Town and was opposed by ex-Hibs manager John Collins has lost a court battle to resurrect the project.

Greenland Developments (UK) Ltd put forward proposals to create a five-storey block of 12 homes on a car park next to Veitch’s Square.

Former Scottish international Collins opposed the move, which he claimed would damage his neighbouring Stockbridge flat and “encroach” on the privacy.

After council chiefs threw out the plans, the developers appealed to Scottish ministers to overturn the decision – but they also rejected the scheme.

Undeterred, bosses at Greenland Developments sued the Scottish ministers at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in an effort to quash that decision.

Now a judge has thrown out its appeal after deciding that the reporter for the Scottish ministers had properly considered the proposals before rejecting them.

The firm said it was “disappointed” at the ruling – but despite this latest blow it has refused to throw in the towel, and said further legal moves were still being considered.

Suzanne McIntosh, a planning consultant who worked on the project, said: “We are disappointed by the decision and we are currently reviewing our options because it’s early days.”

The developer first submitted plans for the project to the city council in December 2009, and planning officials recommended it be given the go-ahead.

It was rejected by the planning committee as “damaging to the character” of the area, and having a “negative impact on the amenity of the existing residents”.

Collins, who resigned as Hibs manager in December 2007, had written to planning officials setting out a number of objections.

The 43-year-old former Hibs and Celtic player claimed a proposed roof garden would “encroach” on his privacy, and said the development could cause damage to his flat, as well as traffic congestion and the blocking out of natural light.

Objectors had also complained about the lack of parking facilities associated with the site, which used to be owned by the council.

Following an appeal by Greenland Developments to Scottish ministers a year later, an inspection of the site by a government reporter led to a second refusal.

The reporter said that the flats would “preserve the character of the conservation area, but agreed with councillors that it would have a detrimental impact on neighbours”.

In court, lawyers for the firm said that the Scottish ministers’ judgement should be quashed as the reporter “failed to provide adequate and intelligible reasons for refusing the appeal”.

The legal team contended that the reporter refused a “reasonable request” to go on an accompanied site visit to be shown the area from “elevated positions”, and failed to consider whether conditions could have been imposed to make the plans “acceptable”.

A city council spokesman said: “We welcome the decision, which upholds the council and Scottish Government’s position.”