Residents opposing plans to open up greenbelt land between Portobello and Musselburgh for the construction of thousands of homes say they are willing to take their fight to the Court of Session.
An online petition against plans to include land at Brunstane in a key planning blueprint for the city – opening it up for 1700 homes to be built – has gained 684 signatures.
Campaigners say that if the land is built on, it will pave over the last bit of green belt between Edinburgh and Musselburgh, snarl traffic across east Edinburgh, and see the newly-opened John Muir Way walking trail cut by a new main road.
Lawyer Martin Kelly said he had compiled an objection ahead of a council meeting to discuss the plans in two weeks.
He said: “The green belt at Brunstane is key to retaining the character of Newcraighall village, which would be completely swallowed up by Edinburgh if the land is built on, and there wouldn’t really be much left to distinguish Edinburgh from Musselburgh.
“We’re certainly prepared to take our case to court if necessary.”
Councillors are set to vote on the controversial second Local Development Plan (LDP2) on May 14, after almost a year of delays that have thrown the city’s planning system in chaos.
Even if councillors accept developers’ concerns and remove the Brunstane area from the plan, the decision could be overruled by the Scottish Government planning reporter if the city is deemed to have allocated insufficient land for housebuilding.
Edinburgh must build 32,000 new homes by 2024 in order to meet Scottish housing supply requirements, but critics have already warned that its proposed LDP falls thousands of homes short of that goal.
However, Mr Kelly said that if land at Brunstane remains in the LDP after being considered by the planning reporter, he is willing to take a legal challenge to the Court of Session himself.
Councillor David Walker, who represents the Portobello/Craigmillar ward that contains the affected area, said the land was “unsuitable” for development and called for the council to look to the west of the city to meet its housebuilding targets – arguing that development there would also boost the tram line.
Labour member Mr Walker said: “The East Coast Main Line cuts straight through the area, and there’s no road access to that piece of land at the moment. Any road that was put into that piece of land would also have to cut across the John Muir Way.
“There are other options available, for instance a vast piece of land to the west of the city in the Garden District. The landowners there have indicated there could be up to 3000 houses developed.”