New Oxgangs housing development plagued by further delays

Hunter's Tryst Primary. Picture: Susan Burrell
Hunter's Tryst Primary. Picture: Susan Burrell
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Plans to transform the scorched site of the former Hunter’s Tryst school in Oxgangs into new homes have hit a set back after the latest application was withdrawn.

The developer, Edinburgh-based Hopefield Partnership, was seeking approval for almost 90 new homes on the site, which has lain vacant since a suspicious fire gutted the site nearly ten years ago. But after submitting plans for council consideration at the end of last year, the developers have had to pull out of the planning process.

Oxgangs councillor Jason Rust said: “It is disappointing that we appear to be back to scratch, but there were strong feelings that the site as planned was overdeveloped and not addressing key local or planning concerns.

“It is frustrating that there is going to be further delay before anything positive can come from the site, especially given housing demand.

“However, having waited this long, we really need to secure the best possible option for the local area.”

Since the developer lodged the plans for affordable, mid-market and elderly accommodation under the ownership of Castle Rock Edinvar housing association, the local community has expressed concerns about the number of houses on the site, increased pressure on the local primary school and increased traffic as a result of an influx of residents in the area.

Jim Napier, of Firrhill Community Council, said: “Whilst we support a residential development on this site, we do have concerns that the number of units is excessive to the area in question and may lead to an unsatisfactory habitat in terms of space, location and facilities for residents and neighbours alike.”

He added that a lack of provision for family housing raised concerns for the appropriate use of the suburban setting.

But Ian Hunt, of project architects Fouin + Bell, indicated the development was not being shelved for good.

In a letter to the council planning department, the firm’s associate director Mr Hunt said: “We will be in touch to re-engage in dialogue regarding the new proposals.”

The build was to include one- to two-bedroom flats and one- to three-bedroom houses.

The flats specifically for elderly residents were designed to be easily adapted from “mainstream design” to meet future health and access requirements.

The former Hunter’s Tryst school was branded a potential death trap after a suspicious fire in July 2008.

It came just after the city council spent £20,000 reinforcing security on the site.

The brownfield site has been left empty and unused since the summer of 2007 when pupils from Hunters Tryst moved to Comiston, now Pentland Primary.

Previous attempts to sell and develop the land failed following the recession.

After the closure of the school, housing plans by Dundas Estates were thwarted by the economic downturn and a separate proposal by Dunedin Canmore Housing Association to build 104 affordable homes also fell through.