A MAJOR housing developer has come under fire after fighting councillors’ demands to include a zebra crossing on a road near a school.
Persimmon Homes was given the green light to build 13 houses and 20 flats at Silverfields, on land west of Tennant Street in Leith – but only on condition it provided a safe crossing for children attending the city’s Gaelic school.
Ahead of a council planning meeting, the housebuilder asked for the demand to be dropped, and won backing from city officials, who said other measures would be more suitable.
Councillors, however, ignored the advice and Persimmon’s pleas and insisted the zebra crossing is included.
Chas Booth, Green councillor said: “I’m delighted the committee has unanimously rejected Persimmon’s attempt to wriggle out of their obligation to take kids’ road safety seriously.
“This decision sends a clear message to the developer that, while new housing in Leith is very welcome, it cannot be at the expense of kids getting to school safely.
“I’m deeply disappointed they appeared to be prioritising cost savings ahead of the safety of Edinburgh’s kids with this move.”
Pupils who attend Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce Primary School travel from across the Lothians and many will have to cross a road leading into the new development.
Parents and local councillors said they were angry that the crossing was challenged.
Marianne O’Loughlin, who has children at the Gaelic school, said: “My three children are all quite wee but I would love my daughter the freedom to go to school on her own – not having the crossing would challenge that freedom.”
Leith councillor Lewis Ritchie added: “We all want to see this site developed but it can’t be at any cost. I am not willing to compromise the duty of care I owe to these children in order to facilitate private profit, so I’m glad that common sense has prevailed.
“I hope Persimmon will accept this decision and press ahead with delivering the fantastic new homes that the area needs.”
Persimmon said independent advice had concluded that a zebra crossing would provide a hazard.
Jim Kirkpatrick, Persimmon Homes East Scotland managing director, said: “An independent Road Safety Audit identified that the inclusion of a zebra crossing at our Silverfields site could in fact make pedestrian and car interaction on Stanwell Street more dangerous.
“The council transport officers agreed with the audit findings that the zebra crossing was not necessary and this decision was reiterated at the committee meeting.
“We are disappointed that the councillors have not accepted the advice of their own officers on this occasion.”