The Astley Ainslie hospital is to close with its services transferred to new purpose-built accommodation on the site of the nearby Royal Edinburgh Hospital. The Astley Ainslie site comprises beautiful landscaped parkland much valued by Edinburgh residents. The site lies within the Grange Conservation Area, contains several listed buildings and its trees are the subject of a Tree Preservation Order.
NHS Lothian owns the site and has set up the Astley Ainslie Community Engagement Group (AACEG), comprising representatives from local community councils and the Grange Association, to advise on the consultation process that will inform the production of a Place Brief for the site. This document will be endorsed by the Council’s Planning Committee and will become a material consideration in the assessment of any future planning applications for the site. The Place Brief will specify the constraints and opportunities for development in each area of the site, creating a holistic vision of the final site, even if it is developed in stages under different owners.
Separately, the Astley Ainslie Community Trust (AACT) has been created to pursue the opportunity for community ownership through Community Asset Transfer, part of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act, 2015.
The two groups, AACEG and AACT, share the objectives of seeking to understand the community’s wish for the future use of the site, in terms of local social, economic and environmental benefit.
The AACEG, however, is not concerned with the future ownership of the site and its further objective is the production of a comprehensive Place Brief endorsed by the Planning Committee prior to any approach to the market by NHS Lothian.
The production of the Place Brief and its endorsement by the Planning Committee is essential to protect the Astley Ainslie site from inappropriate development. If the AACT were to be unsuccessful in its efforts to achieve community ownership, the Place Brief would remain in place to assure development of the site is in line with the community’s priorities, regardless of future ownership.
NHS Lothian is committed to conducting public consultations to inform the Place Brief. However, AACT is well supported and is making faster progress with commissioning public consultation sessions. The first consultation sessions will therefore be those arranged by AACT. All parties – NHS, Council, AACEG, AACT – are committed to working together to share the outputs of consultations and public events to avoid duplication or confusing the public.
The dates and venues for consultations will be set out in posts below.