Company criticised

Cammo developer’s appeal ‘disrepects council’

Cammo tower
Cammo tower is a familiar local landmark

A developer attempting to build up to 500 homes on sensitive green belt land on the western fringe of Edinburgh has been accused of showing a lack of respect to the city council.

The plan to build on land populated by wildlife and popular with walkers, cyclists and joggers was due to be thrown out by councillors on the recommendation of city planners.

However, West Craigs Ltd has submitted an appeal to the Scottish Government before councillors were expected to refuse permission for the sprawling development close to the Cammo nature reserve.

The development would be part of a 1,700-homes scheme covering a vast area of what was open land stretching from Cammo to Edinburgh Airport.

It would fill one of the last remaining areas of open land between the Taylor Wimpey and Miller Homes developments and the Cala development, both skirting the already busy Maybury Road which connects the heavily congested Barnton and Maybury junctions.

The West Craigs Masterplan includes a new primary school, nursery, health centre and cafe but the site in question is not included in the council’s Local Development Plan (LDP).

The latest application generated more than 150 objections from the local community who feared losing a valuable amenity. It is brimming with wildlife such as deer, badgers and foxes.

The proposed development skirting Maybury Road and Craigs Road

Yeoman McAllister Architects on behalf of West Craigs Ltd and Dunedin Canmore concluded that they had responded to all queries about the site.

It said: “The Landscape Framework and the masterplan demonstrate a clear understanding of the unique characteristics of the site; they preserve and enhance historical views, retain elements of stone dyke walling and existing trees where possible, embrace constraints and provide appropriate scale and density throughout.”

The council’s development committee was due to reveal its decision on 2 March but the developer lodged an appeal to the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA).

Councillor Kevin Lang said the decision to appeal was “disrespectful” to the council, adding that if the application had gone to the committee as planned it would have been “a slam-dunk case for refusal.”

He added: “It also breaches council policy on the setting of listed buildings, it breaches council policy on historic gardens and designed landscapes and it breaches council policy on transport.

“There are very serious, grave concerns as to whether local schools, even if they are able to be expanded, would be able to deal with a development like this.”

Sonia MacDonald, planning officer for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The greenbelt is important to the setting of the city, the site has a rural, open character and is not flat but on a rising ridgeline.

“Whilst the aim is to contain the built development within the site alongside generous open space provision, the introduction of urban residential development across the site, across this ridge would break the open and rural character of the site.”

Cammo history

The Cammo Estate has been called Edinburgh’s Secret Gem, says heritage website Britain Express.

In 1693 Cammo House was built for John Menzies, and the house is thought to be the inspiration for House of Shaws in Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novel Kidnapped.

The surrounding park was laid out in 1710 by Sir John Clerk of Penicuik. Sir John was a polymath, interested in music, poetry, and landscaping. He wanted to create a landscape garden centred on Cammo House, with radiating paths, avenues, and formal gardens. Sir John also planted many of the trees which help give Cammo Park its character. Among the trees planted by Penicuik is the oldest ash in the city of Edinburgh.

In the 19th century, the landscape changed enormously, with a walled kitchen garden, a long ornamental canal, and a ha-ha. It may be hard to imagine it when you stand at Cammo Tower today, but the tower once looked out over a carefully designed landscape suited to a luxurious mansion.

The house was left to the National Trust for Scotland in 1975 but after repeated arson attacks by vandals it was declared unsafe and most of the structure was pulled down. The estate parkland was given to the Edinburgh Council who maintain it as a wilderness park.

Though little remains of the house itself, one reminder of Cammo House still remains; the early 19th-century water tower built to supply fresh water to the house, a quarter mile away. The round tower stands 4 stories high, with a castellated top with high parapets. A string course separates each stage of the tower, and there are 4 blocked entrances at each level. and a ground floor entrance on the south west side.

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