A FRESH bid has been made to build hundreds of homes and a primary school on green belt land beside the Royal Infirmary.
Community leaders in Craigmillar are supporting the proposal to build around 750 houses on farmland at Edmonstone Home Farm, Little France, as well as a new primary school.
But planning officials are urging councillors to throw out the application for the green belt land fearing the impact it will have on plans to turn the fields close to Craigmillar Castle into a vast woodland and country park.
A report prepared for councillors ahead of today’s meeting said: “Although there is a recognised need to provide new housing in Edinburgh, this site has been assessed during the preparation of the LDP (Local Development Plan), but it was not supported due to its importance as a strategic green space.”
Developers Springfield Properties are suggesting that the money which the council would raise from selling them the land could make a substantial contribution towards financing a much-needed replacement for Castlebrae High School.
The need for a new school, which would initially provide space for 700 pupils, has been identified as a priority for the city, but there is a funding shortfall of £29 million for the first phase of the development.
The bulk of the land covered in the application is owned by the council and if consent is given for the proposal, Springfield said they have the funds available to “speedily advance a buy-out”, subject to ratification by the council.
Developers say community support for their “strong desire” to produce the windfall that could help in the delivery of the new school should be taking into consideration by councillors.
Conservative councillor for the area Callum Laidlaw said: “The land is part of the green belt but it is currently in a mess and is subject to fly-tipping and use as a track for youths using motorbikes at dangerous speeds, and according to police reports often stolen.
“Proposed development by Springfield would have seen not only the funding of a new primary school but also the development of a very large park for use of the Craigmillar community at large and maintained without cost to the Council through factoring fees.
“Furthermore there are proposals for community based factoring bringing local people into employment.”
Council planners said the principle of housing on the site was not supported and the development is contrary to the Edinburgh Local Development Plan.