City chiefs reject homes plans for Boroughmuir site

An artist's impression of CALA's design of the old Boroughmuir High School. Picture: contributed
An artist's impression of CALA's design of the old Boroughmuir High School. Picture: contributed
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PLANs to transform the old Boroughmuir High School into dozens of new homes have been thrown out.

Councillors on the city’s planning committee rejected advice from their own officials – who had earmarked the designs for approval – to turn down the application.

They raised concerns about the impact the development would have on the character of Bruntsfield and the number of parking spaces.

Cala Homes, which had agreed to buy the school from the city council for more than £14 million, said it was “disappointed” and would take time to consider its next move. The renovation would have seen the main school building transformed into 87 flats after pupils eventually move into their long-awaited and much-delayed new home in Fountainbridge.

But despite winning the backing of five councillors on the committee, the remaining seven voted against the plans amid objections from the Viewforth Local and Bruntsfield Conservation Area support group.

Cycling campaigners from Spokes had also warned that the density of planned private parking on the site was “excessive” given the area is well-served with public transport links.

SNP councillor Alex Lunn, who voted against the scheme, said: “I think the site has a fantastic potential to be a sustainable and car-free site.

“The deciding factor from me for rejecting the proposal was the idea that it needed 95 parking spaces which would add to the congestion and worsening air pollution in the area.”

Cala fought off competition from 20 rival bids to secure the school for £14.5m and wanted to create 87 mezzanine apartments and 28 affordable homes. Around £5m from the sale was to be ringfenced for the new Boroughmuir High School.

The developer had been commended on the “innovative” nature of their ideas by council planning officials.

But Green councillor Melanie Main said the plans had been “seriously flawed”.

She added: “The challenge now is to find this beautiful historic school a future fit for the city in the 21st century.”

Pupils were meant to move to the new Boroughmuir High School in August 2016 – but work has been delayed six times and it is currently due to open after this year’s Christmas holidays.

A spokesman for developer Cala Homes said: “We are naturally disappointed at the decision.

“Throughout that process we have liaised with the council’s planning officials, who had recommended our proposals for approval.

“We will now take time to carefully assess this decision to decide what our next steps may be.”