Craiglockhart community woodland backing urged

The Craighouse site is to be redeveloped. Picture: Dan Phillips
The Craighouse site is to be redeveloped. Picture: Dan Phillips
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CITY residents have been urged to back the setting up of the Capital’s first ever community woodland on land gifted by developers behind a controversial housing project.

Only 700 households have been consulted on the plans, which could see 20 hectares of nature reserve at Easter Craiglockhart Hill gifted to the city.

This has caused Green councillor Gavin Corbett, right, to become “alarmed” at the scope of the council-run consultation and urge interested residents to get involved.

He said: “I am slightly alarmed at the rather limited nature of the consultation. There are several thousand households who live within easy walking distance of Easter Craiglockhart Hill yet the consultation letters have only gone to the 700 homes nearest to the hill.

“I appreciate that there are practicalities to deal with, but the local community is very much larger and we need to be sure that, if and when, proposals go forward they have support in the locality.”

The land, which borders the Craighouse woodland, is currently owned by both the council and the Craighouse Partnership developers.

If successful, the woodland would pass into the ownership of new local body the Common Ground Association (CGA).

The first-of-its-kind scheme has the full backing of council leader Andrew Burns, who defended the level of consultation so far.

He said: “Over 700 letters have been issued to residents in the immediate vicinity of the reserve, posters have been displayed in local parks and libraries, and a public meeting is also scheduled. A targeted social media campaign has been developed to raise awareness of the consultation and over the last week has reached an estimated 25,000 people.

“We’re keen to hear from people about the proposals, which is why we’ve extended the deadline for responses until March 31.”

Tensions have run high regarding the site since it was revealed that current owner the Craighouse Partnership – comprising Sundial Properties, Mountgrange Investment and Napier University – plans to build 116 new homes on the former campus.

This led locals to form a campaign group Friends of Craighouse, which has raised a 5000-signature petition against the plans.

Cllr Corbett said: “I am very much behind the idea of a community body owning the land and relish the prospect of my own backyard pioneering the kind of land ownership models which have been so transformative in rural Scotland these last 20 years.”

A public meeting on the matter is being held on Thursday from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at Meggetland Sports Complex, Colinton Road.