HOUSING developers are leading a bidding war to buy a water treatment works in an upmarket area of Edinburgh.
Scottish Water is selling its 26-acre Fairmilehead works site, with the exception of its main operational office in the city, which will remain in place following the sale.
Bidding for the site, thought to be worth around £20 million, has been dominated by housing developers.
Outline consent has already been granted to Scottish Water for a development of 300 homes, although the winning bidder will still have to submit detailed plans.
It is expected that the majority of the units built on the site will be family homes.
The water treatment works site, which has served the city for more than a century, has become vacant due to the planned opening of a new Scottish Water site at Glencorse, Midlothian, in the coming months.
Stewart Taylor, a director of property firm CB Richard Ellis, which has been marketing the site for Scottish Water, said: “We’ve had a good number of bids in.
“Three or four years ago it would have been a significant number of flats, but it has swung the other way now to family housing – it’s an example of market forces changing.”
Scottish Water is currently working through the bids that were received ahead of a pre-Christmas closing date and a developer is expected to be confirmed shortly, with detailed plans set to be submitted in the summer. New homes on the site are likely to prove popular with families, as the area is close to highly regarded local schools such as Buckstone Primary and Boroughmuir High.
Councillor Jason Rust, who represents the Colinton/Fairmilehead ward, said: “It is good that there is this level of interest in the site and, as it will no longer be used by Scottish Water, it is better that it will not remain redundant.
“But I will need to look at the detailed plans because it is a big site and there will be implications for infrastructure and schools, which have to be borne in mind, especially because the schools are very successful and prestigious state schools.”
The new Glencorse water treatment works will serve Edinburgh and parts of Midlothian.
Scottish Water this week launched separate plans for the development of 300 homes at the soon-to-be-redundant Alnwickhill water treatment works in Liberton.
A Scottish Water spokesman said: “Scottish Water will shortly complete an exercise to identify a suitable development partner. The next stage will then be to prepare and submit a detailed scheme with plans showing access design, housing layout, house types and landscaping. It is expected to take until the summer to select a development partner and then to produce a detailed scheme.
“The water treatment works at Fairmilehead and Alnwickhill have served the city well for over a century, but they are now at the end of their operational life. The new Glencorse water treatment works is being delivered on time and will go into supply in 2012.”