A group of community campaigners have spoken of their disappointment after a decision to deny planning permission by ministers was overruled by a higher authority.
Persimmon Homes North Scotland said it “welcomes” the decision by Court of Session judges to overturn the Scottish Government ruling.
Government reporters said in September the housebuilder had not presented a “compelling case” to justify building on the land – the site of the former Kingspark School – following the rejection of the plans by Dundee councillors.
The legal ruling does not grant Persimmon planning permission. Instead, the case will now be reviewed again by the government’s planning appeals decision, known as DPEA.
If the second review finds in Persimmon’s favour, it could spell the end of a four-year fight by locals to halt development. Kirkton residents formed Save Kingspark for the Community after the plans came to light in 2015, claiming the land is unsuitable for housing.
Campaigner Lynn Watson said: “It really is a case of money talks. Persimmon didn’t like the council’s refusal, so they appeal.
“They didn’t like the reporter’s decision, so they appeal.
“It costs a fortune to pursue these through the courts – so it’s not something community groups can do.”
The Court of Session’s decision focused on a document drawn up by Dundee City Council in 2016 called a “site planning brief” (SPB).
The SPB described the Gillburn Road land as “an opportunity . . . to create a high quality housing development”.
Government experts who refused Persimmon’s appeal said this document was not enough to justify granting planning permission. This was because it wasn’t included in the council’s latest Local Development Plan (LDP 2) – the tightly controlled blueprint for construction in the city.
However, the Lord President Lord Carloway, sitting with Lord Menzies and Lord Brodie, concluded the SPB was the “most up-to-date expression” of Kingspark as a site suitable for housing.
Delivering his opinion of the court, the lord president said: “The reporter’s dismissal of the SPB, as superseded by LDP 2, meant that he regarded the SPB as effectively irrelevant.
“On the contrary, it ought to have been regarded as a material consideration in the determination of the appeal.”
Ms Watson added the disagreement over documents was a sign planning laws are too “murky” for locals to understand.
She said: “I find it interesting that a government-appointed senior planner decides that it’s obvious that a development did not fit with the LDP, but the Court of Session decides he was completely wrong.
“Are the rules of planning really so murky that there can be two completely opposing views?
“What it really does demonstrate is that community consultation doesn’t exist. We have been ignored from the very start.”
The Scottish Government said: “All Court of Session redetermination cases will be dealt with in line with DPEA appeal procedures.”
Persimmon Homes North Scotland said: “We welcome the decision of the Court of Session and are currently considering the implications for the business.”