Experts insist more green belt land needed for homes

Cammo residents protest against the prospect of more traffic on Maybury Road raised by new housing proposals. Picture: Jane Barlow
Cammo residents protest against the prospect of more traffic on Maybury Road raised by new housing proposals. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A TARGET of building 32,500 new homes in the Capital by 2024 will be missed by a third unless a proposed housing masterplan is reopened to include green belt land, a planning firm has claimed.

City officials are obliged by the Scottish Government to produce plans setting out how they will meet the growing demand for housing, but Geddes Consultants said the proposals will leave Edinburgh short by almost 12,000 homes unless it is reworked.

Consultation is set to end tomorrow on the city’s second Local Development Plan, which has sparked protests from communities in areas such as Cammo and Maybury over fears that the green belt could be covered in new homes.

However, planning experts at Geddes say that countryside around South Queensferry, Currie and Balerno will need to be brought into housing plans because sites for a third of the homes deemed necessary “are currently unknown, unaccounted for, and ultimately unplanned”.

Stuart Salter, associate director at Geddes Consulting, said: “Our assessment concludes that the changes in the second proposed plan do not go far enough.

“We would urge the council to consider some of the sites in the west of the city that are capable of supporting future development in locations where people can get to their places of work easily and quickly by different transport modes.

“This means that the locations for 11,700 homes – over a third of the total number of homes which the council is required to deliver by 2024 from a total of 32,460 homes – are currently unknown, unaccounted for, and ultimately unplanned despite the substantial number and range of sites promoted to the council that remain unallocated.”

The firm said brownfield sites set aside for housing development within the plan are likely to be snapped up by developers for other purposes such as retail, student housing or care homes. Sites on the coastline are unsuitable, it argues, because the plots are constrained and there is “no known interest” from developers to build new houses in the area.

In a statement submitted as part of the consultation, the company concludes: “If the council’s present strategy is adopted, it will fail to meet policy requirements set by Scottish Ministers.”

Geddes’ concerns were rubbished by Green Party planning spokesman Councillor Nigel Bagshaw, who described calls for more building on the green belt as “developers’ greed”. He said: “Contrary to the claims made by Geddes Consulting, Edinburgh’s current proposed development plan in no way ‘falls short by thousands of homes’.

“When they say that it ‘falls short of requirements’, they mean developers’ requirements for profitable sites, not the requirements of the people of Edinburgh.

“During the Local Development Plan process, people across the Edinburgh have shown clearly that they want to see alternative, sustainable ways of meeting housing demand. In my view, land use in the city should be determined by its citizens’ need and not developers’ greed.”

Planning committee convener Councillor Ian Perry said Geddes’ comments would be considered alongside all views submitted during the consultation period. He said: “Everyone, including local communities, developers and landowners, has the opportunity to comment on the plans during the representation period, which runs until tomorrow. All submissions will be considered carefully by the council.”

paris.gourtsoyannis@edinburghnews.com