Charity required to pay tram contribution despite hardship claim

The developers of a “creative hub” in Edinburgh must pay contributions towards the city’s tram project agreed in a planning obligation, a reporter has decided.

The obligation was linked to planning permission for the hub to be converted from a derelict listed building. The specific test that arose at appeal was whether the requirement for the tram contributions fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the conversion. The appellants argued that the obligation did not have proper regard to unexpected additional costs that arose following the grant of permission and that the council failed to have proper regard to the ongoing operation of the listed building by a registered charity.

The council argued that it had taken into account the nature of the appellants and the viability of their development by reducing the level of contribution required and wording the relevant clauses to allow for payment after the development was complete. The main area of dispute therefore centred around the appellants’ abililty to make the tram contribution without adversely affecting the continued ongoing operation of the charity.

From the evidence submitted, the reporter inferred that, rather than approaching the council to discuss potential alternative arrangements, the appellants had instead made no payment within the required timeframe and then submitted an application to discharge the planning obligation. He acknowledged the appellants’ argument that their financial position now made it difficult to make the required contribution in a single payment, especially because of the repercussions of the Covid-19 lockdown.

However, he saw no detailed evidence to show why alternative arrangements to either defer or split the payment, as had been suggested by the council, could not be considered and implemented. He found that the appellants had failed to satisfactorily demonstrate that the planning obligation was not fairly and reasonably related to their development in terms of scale and kind. The obligation met the required tests set out in Scottish Circular 3/2012, he confirmed.

Reporter: Gordon Reid; Written representations

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