£1bn Garden District plans for West Edinburgh

The site of the planned Garden District beyond the bypass. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The site of the planned Garden District beyond the bypass. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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PLANS for a £1 billion “Garden District” have gone on show for the first time as a major public consultation gets under way.

About 3500 homes would be built on green-belt land beyond the City Bypass to the west of the Capital in the blueprint drawn up by Sir David Murray’s development firm.

It features a 60-acre National Garden – known as the Calyx – which will include water features and research facilities near 600 new homes.

Another 1500 homes would be built within walking distance of Edinburgh Park and 1400 as part of a University Village near Heriot-Watt.

An exhibition showing off the district opens today at Heriot-Watt University before moving on to Edinburgh Park, Ratho, the Gyle shopping centre and Wester Hailes.

Representatives from Murray Estates have attended community council meetings to chat to residents about the proposals, which include new schools, a conference centre, hotel and a sports hub – if a separate company is prepared to build a sports ­stadium.

Managing director Jestyn Davies said the development would go some way towards alleviating the housing shortage in the Capital, with an estimated 48,000 houses needing to be built in the next decade.

He said: “The start of this public consultation period is an important stage in bringing forward the proposals for the Garden District.

“The time has come for a serious debate on the future of Edinburgh’s growth, with the Garden District providing a unique way to create new and sustainable communities, whilst taking significant pressure off existing communities as Edinburgh seeks to meet its significant housing shortage.

“These consultation dates give members of the public and interested parties the perfect opportunity to learn more about what is proposed.”

But Pentland Hills ward councillor Bill Henderson, pictured, believes the developers will face significant opposition from residents.

He said the road network would not be able to cope with increased traffic from thousands of new homes as well as tourists to the planned Scotland’s National Garden.

He added: “I think there will be a lot of opposition to it, as there is for any green-belt development, but this planned development is massive.

“The City Bypass acts as a boundary for the green belt and once you step over it, the boundary is breached.

“It is going to have a adverse effect on traffic. We have massive house-building in West Lothian coming in towards Edinburgh. Even if people use public transport, there will still be an increase in traffic, even if it’s extra buses.

“On top of that, they are talking about having Scotland’s National Garden there, which would bring thousands of tourists. I’m not saying it’s all bad but the proposals do raise a lot of questions.”

Balero urged to resist builders

RESIDENTS in Balerno were last night urged to keep blocking plans to build new houses in the area.

Property firm Gladman Developments wants to see 120 homes built on high-quality agricultural land in the green belt at Balerno.

And local campaigners plus MSP Gordon Macdonald and Edinburgh Councillor Bill Henderson all appealed to nearly 400 residents to keep campaigning.

The deadline for protest letters for land at Ravelrig Road is January 24 and speakers warned that wholesale development in the area could wreck the character of the leafy village.

Richard Henderson, of Balerno Community Council, who organised the meeting, told a packed audience of nearly 400 in Balerno Parish Church that the area was being targeted by speculators with prime sites at Harlaw Gait, Glenbook, Currievale and Goodtrees also being considered.

He claimed: “Balerno is the only community in the city of Edinburgh which is surrounded

on four sides by green belt.

“We have to be vigilant and it will be a tremendous challenge to the community in the next few years to preserve its character.

“This is the second public meeting [against planning applications)we’ve had to host in the last six months.”

“The recent planning application at Cockburn Crescent saw a record number of 500 people against the proposals.”

Councillor Henderson (SNP Pentland Hills), who lives locally, added: “We must work together [to beat the builders].

“Developers will keep on coming back and we must preserve the greenbelt.”