Why is the council so opposed to Granton plans? – John McLellan

Edinburgh is about to have its own run-in with the Court of Session to block a scheme which will transform land that’s been vacant for years, writes John McLellan

Thursday, 26th September 2019, 6:00 am
An artist's impression of the plans for Granton

The Court of Session has been busy of late and a few Edinburgh councillors were quick to nip over from the City Chambers to Parliament Square for some selfies while the verdict on the prorogation of Westminster was awaited.

But few, if any of them, would have been aware that the council was setting up its own date with their lord and ladyships to challenge a Scottish Government decision to extend planning permission for the £500m Granton Marina development which the developer successfully argued the council had failed to address.

That’s right, dear reader, in a move which will cost thousands the city’s SNP-led administration is taking the SNP-led Scottish Government to court to block an application for a scheme which will transform brownfield land which has been vacant for years.

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And to complicate matters further, only a day after the citation was served the Scottish Government’s planning reporter overturned two other refusals for detailed applications on the same site for hundreds of new homes and the centre-piece Hyatt Hotel. A series of conditions have been attached which could give the council the opportunity to throw more spanners in the works of a major development it appears not to like for reasons which have not been properly explained. The saga – and the cost to the tax-payer – is unlikely to end soon.

The council has a reasonable relationship with some developers, like Parabola at Edinburgh Park and Vastint in Fountainbridge, but with Edinburgh Marina Holdings it has become the legal equivalent of open warfare. The unanswered question is why?

Ire with private hire

It’s not often I find myself in agreement with the union Unite, but their call for Edinburgh Council to clamp down on breaches of regulations by private hire cab drivers will chime with many people.

The behaviour of a few black hackney drivers leaves much to be desired, as is the case with any large group of people, but the daily examples of poor driving by the vastly expanded number of private cabs makes me wonder how many of them have passed a driving test.

Last week I was cut up by one turning left as I cycled through Lauriston, and I witnessed another screeching up the wrong side of Market Street to overtake two vehicles approaching the Waverley Bridge mini-roundabout .

Like so many aspects of local road management, regulations are all very well but without enforcement the council might as well not bother.

Sporting chances

How heartening to see Green councillors acknowledge the value of Edinburgh’s independent schools and their excellent sports facilities by asking the council to explore more ways it can work in partnership with them.

The schools themselves will be delighted to receive positive approaches, given how much they already do to support sports participation in the communities they serve, regardless of background.

The sports sections at my club Watsonians welcome all children, and the hockey club in particular provides coaching for literally hundreds of youngsters every week and has started coaching sessions at Gracemount to cut down on travel.

Bring on the Broons

Braw! An auction at Prestonfield House last week of the Oor Wullie figures which have brightened up the city over the summer contributed to a total of £1.3m raised by the Sunday Post publisher DC Thomson’s Oor Wullie Big Bucket Trail for children’s hospital charities across Scotland.

It’s 13 years since the Edinburgh Cow Parade, on which it was based, but this put a bigger smile on the faces of local people, even if they confused the tourists. Next year, the entire Broon family?