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Plans rejected for 700 new homes on land earmarked for park

Councillors in Edinburgh unanimously turned down the proposals by Springfield Homes.

Rejected: The plans were refused planning permission.
Rejected: The plans were refused planning permission.

Plans to build more than 700 homes on land earmarked for a park in Edinburgh have been rejected.

Councillors on a sub-committee unanimously turned down proposals by Springfield Homes to build close to the city's Royal Infirmary.

However, a final decision will be made by the full council next month.

The proposals were submitted in two separate applications - one 36-hectare area for 144 houses and 358 flats and another 199 homes and public open space on a 6.5-hectare plot.

More than 300 of the proposed homes would have been built on council-owned land, a sale that developers claimed could see a windfall of around £5m for the authority.

Planning officers told councillors that the site is "designated as green belt" and that "housing on the site is not justified in terms of need".

They added: "We don't need houses here and we don't have a shortfall in the five-year housing land supply.

"There has been a history of fly-tipping on this site. The only fly-tipping remaining is on the developers' ownership."

The city council is exploring turning the site into a "strategic parkland". In the council's local development plan, the area is "identified as a green space proposal in order to provide a landscaped, multi-functional parkland, woodland and country park, linking to Midlothian".

'There's massive health benefits to communities to have access to that space. Once it's gone, it's gone.'
Cllr Neil Gardiner

Springfield Homes' chief executive Innes Smith told the hearing that the current green-belt space on the site is "not a particularly safe area and not somewhere you would want to walk on the evening" and pointed out that the plans would invest £1m in upgrading the remaining green space for the council.

He added: "Edinburgh needs good quality housing. This development creates jobs and makes a significant economic contribution.

"We like providing community space that people can use. If my kids go in that grass, they disappear. The community wants a park there that they can use. I'm sure the parks team could use £1m."

Councillors unanimously rejected both applications.

Planning convener, Cllr Neil Gardiner said: "I simply cannot support it and wish to uphold the green belt.

"There's massive health benefits to communities to have access to that space. Once it's gone, it's gone.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for that part of Edinburgh to have that park."

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