Craighouse developers in legal bid to reassure locals

Campaigners are concerned public access will be restricted
Campaigners are concerned public access will be restricted
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DEVELOPERS at a much-loved city beauty spot have issued a guarantee to campaigners that the site will remain “open to public access in perpetuity”.

William Gray Muir, of the Craighouse Partnership, made the claim after a round of public consultation events showcasing revised plans to redevelop the former Edinburgh Napier University campus.

Following protests, the developer has now appointed Capital law firm Burness to put a restriction on the title of the land itself, stating that it should remain open to the public.

The developer has faced concerns over public access from campaign group, The Friends of Craighouse, since acquiring the historic site last year.

Mr Gray Muir, director of Sundial Properties, sought to reassure residents by taking legal steps to ensure that access for future generations will not be lost if the 116-unit development goes ahead.

He said: “The Craighouse Partnership is aware of the value to the local community of public access to the grounds.

“We are committed to guaranteeing continued access to the grounds and woods. In accordance with legal advice from Burness, we propose to put a restriction on the title of the land itself at the land registry that it should be open to public access in perpetuity. By taking this step we shall be able to successfully secure public access to the site for future generations.”

However, the move was given a cautious welcome by campaigners, and Rosy Barnes of The Friends of Craighouse, said: “Their proposals take away access to some of the best-loved and protected parts of this landscape by building four- storey housing all over it.”

The campaign group has also attacked the developer for not listening to feedback from the public, branding a community forum set up to find common ground on the matter “a pointless PR exercise”. A petition opposing the development has gathered 4000 signatures.

Mr Gray Muir has listed a number of changes to the plans which he feels reflect engagement with locals, including minimising the area of new build, which now represents less than 4 per cent of the site. He said they had also added a new orchard and coffee shop.

But Ms Barnes said: “Thinking a coffee shop can buy off the local community just shows how little understanding they have for this spectacular site.”