Developer accuses top Edinburgh council official of proposing alternative deal behind their back
The company behind the the multi-million redevelopment of Granton Marina has served a legal notice on the council claiming the waterfront land where it plans to build 1,800 new homes and a hotel alongside 427 full-serviced marina berths, is under "informal threat" of compulsory purchase by the council, which would then pursue the regeneration scheme with new partners.
The "blight notice" - which could legally force the council to buy the land - claims the senior official, who was accompanied by another senior official and a senior councillor – none of whom can be named for legal reasons – proposed a joint venture between the council and a new investor while attending the conference.
It is understood the alleged conversation was with a London-based investment surveyor who acts for a number of funds and is said to have taken place at a meeting at an airport as the Edinburgh delegation headed home.
Conservative councillor Jim Campbell raised the claims at last week's full council meeting, where he tabled an emergency motion calling for a report giving the full background and circumstances of any discussions held with third parties in relation to land owned by Granton Central Developments Ltd, an explanation of the council’s policy on development of the entire waterfront site and an explanation of the implications of the blight notice.
The SNP/Labour administration acknowledged a notice had been served but said it was taking legal advice and that for the time being these were "operational" issues.
Cllr Campbell said: "We just want to know what's going on. Potentially there could be significant sums of money involved and we want to know what the council's position is. We're told going to these conferences is good for Edinburgh, so what happened?"
And Conservative economy spokesman John McLellan said: "There are very exciting plans for Granton but it needs major employment opportunities as well and certainly pre-Covid this major hotel and marina development promised to provide just the kind of mix of job opportunities that a major housing development on the scale of Granton is going to need."
The site has been the focus of a series of legal clashes between the council and the developers. But marina development is seen as a key component of the council’s £1.3 billion Granton waterfront regeneration scheme to deliver thousands of new homes to help meet the Capital’s growing demand for housing.
Charles Price, spokesman for the developers, said: "The Edinburgh marina development is more important now than it ever was. Post-Covid 19 it could immediately help regenerate the area without a long dely, producing jobs and homes and that will improve the local economy no end. These projects that can go ahead right away are really important. I don't understand why anybody would want to behave in this manner."
A council spokeswoman said: “It wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on an ongoing legal case.”