I have now received a response from the Minister which can be viewed by clicking here.
Following the planning permission given for the proposals to develop the old Craighouse campus, I have written to Derek Mackay MSP, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Planning to ask that he look urgently at whether planning law is fit for purpose given the huge opposition from local people and that the application was contrary to dozens of existing Council planning rules and guidelines:
CRAIGHOUSE PLANNING APPLICATION APPROVAL – EDINBURGH
You may be aware by now that the City of Edinburgh Council Development Management Sub-Committee passed a controversial planning application for the sensitive Craighouse site yesterday.
The application was opposed by all elected members, all relevant community councils, the Cockburn Association, the Friends of Craighouse Group and over 1,200 individual residents (including a petition with over 5,000 signatures).
I was surprised that it was passed, not just because of the overwhelming objections, but because I have never read such a damning planning officers report that came to the conclusion that it should be granted.
That leads me to ask if you could also consider the principles of the decision by the Council and consider whether there are any mechanisms that would allow for it to be “called in”.
The other reason I’m writing to you is much wider and to ask that you look urgently at the planning legislation to see that it is fit for purpose. The two areas in particular that were highlighted by the decision on Craighouse are:
1. The planning framework in terms of enabling development and, particularly, around planning guidance no. 142. The enabling development justification in the case of Craighouse was that there was no other potential use for the site and that this was the bare minimum of new build required to preserve the grade A listed buildings. There is no guidance on how this assessed or if a market sale test should be used to determine other potential uses. I appreciate that ownership is irrelevant to a planning application but there must be a mechanism that can be used to provide greater clarity and tighter controls on enabling cases. Additionally, there are no definitive guidelines or rules in place to determine what would be a minimum of new build.
2. The issue of third party right of appeal must be re-assessed. It does have to be tightly drawn so that the system does not grind to a halt just because the a decision is not liked, but in the case of the Craighouse application, it could have been a legitimate mechanism for the public to use to ask the Scottish Government to specifically look at an appeal on the enabling development case.
In addition, I think the Local Development Plan process requires to be more robust. Local communities had made representations to the council on the LDP process only to have the Scottish Government increase the housing allocation figures at the 11th hour. This made the completed consultation a sham and has resulted in local communities feeling powerless to be heard in any way during the process.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Ian Murray MP
Labour Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South
Shadow Business Minister