City chiefs say axing army bases ‘good for economy’

The site is currently an RAF glider facility

The site is currently an RAF glider facility

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The decision to close three army bases in Edinburgh will be good for the Capital’s economy, according to the city council.

A new council report has revealed that the total number of army personnel based in the city will rise by 300 to 500 despite the closure of the Redford and Dreghorn barracks and the Craigiehall army headquarters.

Soldiers at Kirknewton in 1970, when it was still an army base.

Soldiers at Kirknewton in 1970, when it was still an army base.

The three facilities will be replaced by a new “super barracks” near Kirknewton that West Lothian Council has said is within its territory. But city council chiefs have revealed that, although the village of Kirknewton is in West Lothian, the airfield on which it will be developed actually lies “just within” the Edinburgh boundary.

It means that the total number of army personnel based in Edinburgh will increase from 1400 at present to between 1700 and 1900 when the new base becomes operational in 2016-17.

The Ministry of Defence has also indicated that accommodation for married soldiers will remain in the Oxgangs and Colinton area, which means there will be a “limited” impact on local schools Colinton Primary and Firrhill High School.

Dave Anderson, director of city development at the council, said: “Across the city it is likely that the overall number of army personnel permanently based in the city will rise by 300 to 500.

“Therefore, at a city level, it can be reasonably assumed that the net economic benefit to the city will be positive.”

Council officials admit there could be “negative economic impacts at a very local level” around Redford/Dreghorn but say that if the married quarters do remain in the area then these issues will be minimised.

Council leader Jenny Dawe said: “The contents of the MoD’s defence review have still to be confirmed but, should they proceed, the implications for the city in terms of housing, education, transport, planning and economic development could be considerable.

“We will work closely with the MoD, Scottish Government, West Lothian Council and others to minimise any adverse impacts on local communities but also to make the most of the economic, and other, benefits that this decision could bring.”

mblackley@edinburghnews.com

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