Controversial plans for an “expansive” extension to Edinburgh Academy will go ahead after the Scottish Government upheld the school’s appeal.
Edinburgh council’s planning committee failed to make a decision after the statutory two-month period to grant or dismiss the proposal lapsed.
School bosses decided not to allow a second extension to the Development Management Sub Committee to consider the application after extra time had already been granted.
The plans, including a £4 million science block and library, were given the green light by the Scottish Government’s reporter where the application automatically defaulted.
Rector of Edinburgh Academy, Barry Welsh, said: “We are pleased with the decision on our plans which we adapted considerably in response to local issues raised in order to minimise any impact on our neighbours.
“The investment in the school’s future will equip it with advanced new science and learning facilities, becoming major assets that contribute towards delivering the skills and learning that pupils require to be successful in a rapidly changing world.”
The new facilities, including extra classrooms, will be masked from view by current buildings in an effort to minimise impact on the New Town conservation area.
But not everyone in the local area is pleased with the result.
“This is a huge injustice,” said Liz Engelsen, a local resident on Perth Street. “The Academy purposefully circumvented the democratic planning process. We were granted a public hearing to share our objections and concerns with local councillors. This never happened.
“I’m left wondering ‘why have a planning process if it isn’t followed?’ and ‘why ask local residents to raise concerns if those concerns are blatantly ignored?’
“I’m not alone, over 120 local residents filed objections.”
Selby Richardson, a longstanding resident of Henderson Row, believes the plans are a gross over-development that will have a hugely detrimental impact.
He added: “We feel hugely let down by the planning system which appears to have shown more concern for the impact of the proposals on the Academy than for the amenity, wellbeing and concerns of local residents.
“It is a case of Edinburgh Academy riding roughshod, yet again, over the concerns of local residents.”