The city council will investigate how plans for Edinburgh Rugby’s new stadium were approved without being scrutinised by elected councillors.
Plans for the 7,800-seater “mini Murrayfield” were approved by planning officers under delegated authority – despite the council leader admitting the scheme has a “strategic importance”.
Conservative Cllr John McLellan asked council leader Adam McVey how the plans were able to avoid the scrutiny of councillors.
Cllr McLellan said: “This week we learned that a sports stadium has gone through the planning process without any discussion by councillors at all, as far as I can see – which is the construction of the so-called ‘mini Murrayfield’.
“In the light of the approval of that planning application, which I’m sure took more than just me on the development management sub-committee by surprise, can the leader help explain how a new professional sports stadium with significant implications for the management of council land, can be pushed through on the nod of the planning system without any oversight whatsoever from councillors.”
Planning applications usually need to have tallied up at least seven objections for plans to be brought in front of the council’s development management sub-committee. The Edinburgh Rugby plans received six objections – one from the Water of Leith Conservation Trust, three neutral comments from the Edinburgh Access Panel, Murrayfield Ice Rink and Murrayfield Curling and one supporting comment.
Stands will be put up on the back pitches at Murrayfield around a new artificial pitch. It is hoped the facility would be ready for the 2019-20 rugby season.
Cllr McVey said the decision was “unusual” and confirmed changes to the council’s policy of delegated powers for planning has been paused for an investigation into the mini Murrayfield decision.”
He added: “In terms of how the application did not go through planning, I have to admit I find it unusual that it didn’t for an application of that scale.
“It’s important that applications which do have a strategic importance, and I think this application does have a strategic importance, are given permission through our elected member process to make sure that there is a wider understanding of all the issues amongst elected members and the public in full transparency.”