THE city’s education leader is hoping a major housing development planned for Morningside could pave the way for a new primary school.
Up to 200 homes could be built on the site of Edinburgh Napier’s Craighouse campus, which was sold to the Craighouse Partnership earlier this year.
But Councillor Marilyne MacLaren has warned that the local catchment school, South Morningside Primary, would not be able to accept any additional pupils, meaning the issue will become an “essential” part of the planning process. Cllr MacLaren said the authority will be looking for a developer contribution, and she hopes this could lead to the building of a brand new school in the area, which would ease accommodation pressures.
She said: “In any kind of big development, we ask developers for a contribution if we feel the infrastructure already in place is not going to cope.
“The catchment school for Craighouse is South Morningside, which is at capacity now.
“I have raised this with the developers and said I would be looking for a contribution.
“There’s already a feasibility study for an extension at South Morningside, but it’s quite expensive for what it brings us and it encroaches onto the playground quite a bit so that is not my preferred option.
“What I would be looking for is a site on which hopefully we could build a new school, whether it is a part of the actual Craighouse site, or land which the council owns up there.”
Hundreds of people have joined a campaign against the plans to redevelop the historic beauty spot at Craighouse.
They fear the “excessive” development will destroy the grounds and threaten public access to the site.
Paul Godzik, Labour’s education spokesman and local councillor for the Meadows and Morningside ward, said: “I do have some concerns at the prospect of a school on the Craighouse site.
“Many local residents have highlighted the need for continued open access, as well as the need to guard against overdevelopment.
“A new primary school on the site would seem to be at odds with these aims.”
One local resident affiliated with Friends of Craighouse said: “There is already concern that Historic Scotland has been persuaded that most of the grounds must be sacrificed to the developer’s needs – now it looks like the Liberal Democrats are calling for even more development.”
A spokeswoman for the Craighouse Partnership said: “We are aware of the council’s policy on developer contributions towards schools and look forward to discussions with the council on the associated infrastructure needs of the area.
“Plans for Craighouse are still evolving, so we are unable to predict what level of contribution will be required. However, we will continue to engage with the community, stakeholders and council planners.”