University chief hits back over Craighouse row

An artist's impression of the Craighouse site
An artist's impression of the Craighouse site
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The principal of Edinburgh Napier University has hit out at protesters opposing the redevelopment of the former Craighouse campus site as she revealed the university would make £11.5 million from the plans.

The Craighouse Partnership consortium, of which Edinburgh Napier University is a named partner, wants to build 116 new homes on the historic beauty spot.

The proposal has been met with furious opposition from many local residents, with 5000 signing a petition against the development.

However, the university’s principal and vice-chancellor, Dame Joan Stringer, has launched an attack on campaigners, accusing them of mounting an “emotive disinformation campaign” and trying to discredit the university.

She also revealed that the university stands to make an estimated £1.5m from the development, in addition to the £10m it has already received, answering calls to reveal its financial interest in the plan.

Campaigners today branded the principal’s comments “disgraceful” and said she had attempted to smear a large community campaign.

Dame Joan, however, said she had been forced to make the statement in a bid to “set the record straight”.

She said: “I am saddened that certain individuals appear to be attempting to distort the facts and discredit the name of Edinburgh Napier University.

“I am not prepared to get drawn into a war of words but I am determined to put the true facts into the public domain.

“The university continues to be a good neighbour to the people of Craighouse. This is one of the reasons why the university is a co-applicant on the planning application, as we can continue a monitoring role.”

Dame Joan said the university would not support a high-density development and that the institution stood to make far less than had been stated in some quarters.

She added: “There are details of the agreement which remain commercially sensitive but we are not making a ‘killing’ on the sale as has been claimed. We received £10m as an initial payment and we will receive a further payment at a later date. The second payment will not be anywhere near the millions of pounds that are being quoted by certain individuals. We estimate that this is likely to be around £1.5m.”

Morningside Community Council, Merchiston Community Council and the Cockburn Association have united in opposition to the plans.

Rosy Barnes, spokesperson for the Friends of Craighouse group, said: “The local community has a right to know why this important landscape – used by the public for generations and protected under planning law – has been sold to an offshore complex of companies planning to build over some of its most beautiful and loved areas.

“Napier should take responsibility for the actions of the partnership, of which they are a key part, and from which they will financially gain.

“Dame Joan Stringer accuses us of a disinformation campaign when our articles are based on facts in the public domain.

“Napier seems to be indulging in a no information campaign – hiding behind a claimed lack of paperwork about a £10m deal.”