Edinburgh council leader Cammy Day accuses SNP of 'scaremongering' over City Plan date

Council leader Cammy Day has accused the SNP of “scaremongering” after it claimed postponing an update on the Capital's new planning blueprint put the city's greenbelt at risk and could delay action on short-term lets.

By Ian Swanson
Sunday, 3rd July 2022, 12:17 pm

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An SNP motion at full council called for an update on the City Plan 2030 – following detailed consideration of public responses – to be given to the council by September at the latest, but instead the council backed an amendment by Labour, extending the deadline to the end of the year.

The City Plan, drawn up by the last SNP-Labour administration, committed to focusing on brownfield sites for new housing and ruled out the release of new areas of greenbelt land for development. The SNP claimed delaying the update until the end of the year put the greenbelt “in immediate danger of further development” and cast doubt on the new minority Labour administration’s support for the brownfield-only development commitment.

The SNP also said the postponement risked a delay in implementing policy changes needed to empower councillors to refuse applications for Airbnb-style short-term lets and claimed it raised questions over Labour’s resolve to tackle the issue.

But Cllr Day dismissed the claims as “nonsense” and “playing politics”. He said it was still possible the City Plan update would be ready by September, but he wanted to give staff time to make sure it was right. And he reaffirmed his party’s commitment to the brownfield policy and tackling short-term lets.

SNP councillor Norman Work said: "Developers who have been lobbying against the decision to block greenbelt development will be rubbing their hands together. We anticipate a slew of housing applications for greenbelt sites in the coming months which councillors will be unable to prevent because of this decision by Labour with their Lib Dem and Tory allies.”

And SNP councillor Kate Campbell claimed the new administration was “in a mess” over short-term lets. She said: “The council’s timetable for tightening up the response to this issue into disarray. It’s shambolic and it’s deeply concerning.”

Map from City Plan 2030 showing potential sites for housing development.

But Cllr Day said: “This is nonsense. It is absolute scaremongering from the SNP.”

He said asking for the update by the end of the year was simply due to the workload and staff being off in the summer. “It’s just to make sure we get it right when it comes to council. It may well come to council in September but if it’s the November meeting then it’s the November meeting, with absolutely no threat to the greenbelt sites at all. This is just playing politics. We supported 100 per cent the City Plan and will continue to do so.”

And he said the SNP had “a bit of cheek” in attacking Labour over short-term lets. “It was Labour that pushed it through the council and lobbied for it in the parliament. And we’ve now got a policy from the Scottish Government that only deals with half the issue, which we’re grateful for, but we’ve still not got a cap on short-term lets. It was in our manifesto, it remains a key issue for us, the planning regime is being implemented and we will implement the licensing regime. What is missing is for the SNP government to stop kow-towing to private businesses and give us a cap.”

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