Wednesday November 6th 2019
Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp
Plans to build a £25m business park in the south of the Capital have been approved by councillors following a warning it would be “sheer madness” to reject proposals that have the backing of an entire community.
Edinburgh City Council’s development management sub-committee overturned a recommendation by planning officials to reject Bernard Hunter’s plans for the Gilmerton Gateway, which has now secured planning permission in principle.
The proposals include more than 50 per cent of business use – with a new 60-bedroom hotel and start-up units, a new food store, neighbourhood shops and cafe. The developers also want to provide a community hall integrated with Scotland’s first community archery centre, while a new transport hub and interchange will be set up.
The plans received more than 100 letters of support through the planning portal, as well as more than 700 pledges of support from locals. Not a single objection was received by the council.
Officials told councillors there was a “surplus convenience capacity” in the south of the city and claimed the plans would “impact existing trade by as much as 54 per cent”.
Planners added that the Gilmerton Gateway scheme “fails to draw upon the positive characteristics of the area” and claimed that the developers’ retail impact assessment was “significantly flawed”.
But Ken Baird from Gilmerton and Inch Community Council, said the plans will “provide much needed facilities that don’t exist” as well as “long-term employment opportunities”.
Ward Cllr Lesley Macinnes told the committee there is “remarkably strong level of support” for the plans and pointed to proposals that would become community assets.
She added: “We recognise the need for housing but as a local community, we have had an influx in housing and we are deeply concerned about it.”
Fellow ward Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron said the plans have “wide-reaching and wholehearted support” and claimed the scheme will be a “massive boost for the community” and labelled the proposals “a dream development”.
Mark Rafferty, managing director of developers Bernard Hunter, told councillors that the proposals will “enhance an area by creating a sustainable mixed use development” and will “create an attractive gateway” as well as “improving Gilmerton and making it stronger”.
But planning convener Cllr Neil Gardiner, said the plans “look more like an out of town retail park”. He called for the plans to be refused permission, claiming approval would lead to a “scramble for the lowest common development”.
He added: “It really is a car-focused development. We are not saying that no development should happen here but I think this is not the right development.”
Cllr John McLellan, who blasted officers for a “very subjective judgement agains the development”, called for the plans to be granted planning permission.
He added: “What I see is a proposal where the developer has gone the extra mile to provide a good development. What’s on offer here is not a threat to what’s on offer in Gilmerton.
“If we reject something like this, it will leave people wondering what on earth will the council approve when the entire community is in support of it going ahead.”
Cllr Osler supported the plans, saying it would be “sheer madness to turn it down”.
She added: “I think this development has been very harshly judged. This is an extremely good development.”
Speaking after the decision, Mr Rafferty said: “We’re absolutely delighted with this decision, which will keep Bernard Hunter in the area, and deliver new services that help make Gilmerton better and stronger for its residents.
“On behalf of the company we’d like to thank everyone in the community which came together to support our proposals and we will work closely with local people and the council to deliver a development of which Gilmerton and Edinburgh can be proud.”Tweet Share on Facebook