Developer in row over green belt luxury villas

Artist's impression of the proposed greenbelt development at Fairmilehead
Artist's impression of the proposed greenbelt development at Fairmilehead
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A ROW has broken out over plans for a luxury housing development amid fears it will lead to more building on the city’s green belt.

Miller Homes has submitted plans to build 15 villas on agricultural land close to the city bypass at Fairmilehead.

It insists the development, at Winton, will have a minimal impact on the landscape. But residents said the move would lead to more applications for green-belt developments if granted by councillors. They also accused the Edinburgh-based firm of attempting to “bulldoze through” the planning process.

The initial pre-planning and main applications were made during the summer and at Christmas, which residents claim prevented them from attending meetings.

As a green-belt development, the plans are contrary to the Edinburgh local plan and would require an exemption from councillors on the city council planning committee.

Norman Tinlin, secretary of the Fairmilehead Community Council, said: “We don’t trust housing developers in relation to the green belt, because it might only be 15 houses now but it would pave the way for much larger developments. Miller Homes are testing the water and if they are successful here they will pursue developments elsewhere. Also it’s simply not the case that this will go some way to easing the housing shortage. These are luxury properties at the top end of the scale, and easily more than £500,000 each.”

Mr Tinlin said the decision to submit the plans during two holiday periods had been widely regarded as an attempt to push through plans with little local opposition.

He said: “Call me a cynic but submitting plans during the summer and over the festive period is a clear attempt to bulldoze these plans through. There is a limited period of time to lodge an objection and the fewer the developers get, the easier it will be for them.”

Councillor Jason Rust, who represents Colinton and Fairmilehead, said: “The proposed development is on green-belt land and in a conservation area and a number of residents have expressed concerns to me about a possible precedent being set if this application is approved.”

The Miller Homes proposal comes after the collapse of a development for 400 homes on green-belt land at Newcraighall. The land had been freed up to address the housing shortage but plans were went back to the drawing board after a long legal battle.

Miller Homes argues the quota of 400 green-belt homes should be filled elsewhere. It has also insisted no further development is proposed on the site and said it will consider entering legal agreement to restrict the future use of the site for agricultural use.

A spokesman for the project told the Evening News the aim was, “to create a small-scale development that is sympathetic to the conservation area and enhancing the green belt/urban edge.”