Planners blasted over key development vote failure

Councillor Ricky Henderson addresses a public meeting about the proposed Curriemuir development. Picture: Neil Hanna
Councillor Ricky Henderson addresses a public meeting about the proposed Curriemuir development. Picture: Neil Hanna
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CITY planners have been rapped by the Scottish Government for failing to produce a vital blueprint for housing development, amid warnings that the delay could drive a wedge between the council’s coalition partners.

Edinburgh’s planning system was yesterday described as being “gridlocked” and “in limbo” after the council announced that a planned vote next week on its second Local Development Plan would not now take place before May.

Planning experts warned that frustrated developers, who have already appealed to the Scottish Government over delays to a number of applications, could effectively circumvent the local planning process because the city has no blueprint for housing in place.

And communities facing the construction of thousands of homes on their doorstep accused councillors of “passing the buck” on controversial decisions at Cammo and elsewhere, as critics claimed the delay was designed to avoid political embarrassment ahead of the general election.

In a rare intervention by a Scottish Government minister into a local council’s planning affairs, Communities Secretary Alex Neil MSP said he was worried by the hold-up.

Mr Neil said: “I am extremely concerned at this further delay to Edinburgh’s local development plan and the increased uncertainty for developers and communities around the city. I expect all local authorities to have up-to-date plans in place and to plan effectively to meet their housing requirements. My officials have raised my concerns with the council.

“Scottish Planning Policy introduces a presumption in favour of sustainable development which will be given significant weight where a development plan is out of date. Therefore, it is even more important that development plans are progressed quickly.”

A senior Edinburgh SNP source warned that the dispute would “doubtless raise tension” within the SNP-Labour council administration, with SNP councillors on the planning committee calling for proposed developments at Cammo, Newmills and Curriemuirend Park to be removed from the LDP2.

Planning convener Ian Perry came in for further criticism yesterday.

SNP Edinburgh Western MSP Colin Keir attacked the repeated delays to a plan that was originally intended to be in place in 2011, saying: “Thanks to [planning convener] Councillor Ian Perry’s actions, my constituents, particularly those in Cammo, Maybury, Corstorphine and South Queensferry, can look forward to even more uncertainty.

“Councillor Perry has either shown a serious lack of competence and leadership on this, or he is playing party politics with the daily lives of residents and the prosperity of the city.”

The council declined to comment further on yesterday’s story in the Evening News.