‘False’ document claims trams will go to Waterfront

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POTENTIAL developers are still being told how trams will help regenerate Edinburgh’s Waterfront – even though the troubled project is stopping in the city centre.

And today planners came under fire for perpetuating “false and misleading” information in a high-level strategic document.

The latest South East Scotland strategic development plan – which was updated in July – contains several references to trams going to Newhaven.

Early on, the plan states: “The full tram route will ensure that the development potential of the Waterfront is maximised while minimising congestion and carbon emissions.”

It also refers to the prospect of “28,000 new homes” at the Waterfront despite the fact development has ground to a halt and nothing on such a scale is now anticipated.

SESplan, the strategic planning authority for South East Scotland, which is responsible for drawing up the document, insisted it was a long-term plan for the next 20 years.

But Lothians Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said the idea trams would run to the Waterfront by then was unrealistic.

She said: “It’s nonsense. The whole point of this strategic type of document is businesses, developers and the public can see the grand plan for the region and know what developments they can expect.

“People need to see it as credible and realistic. But they are still being led to believe the trams are going to Newhaven.How can we have the top level plan for the area, written by local government, national government and overseen by the chief planner, which has such a basic fact wrong?

“It also talks about 28,000 new houses although now we know there won’t be.”

Ms Dugdale said it was a “huge worry” the area was being left without a tram link. “It was going to be the key to revitalisation of the area, but now we are left with a wasteland.”

In a section on “Edinburgh Waterfront”, the strategic development plan says: “The construction of the tram route into the centre and out to the west of Edinburgh should discourage greater car use.

“Public transport enhancements for this area will be a key factor to support its integration into the rest of the city.”

Ian Angus, SESplan strategic development plan manager, said: “The proposed plan does make reference to Newhaven as part of the network and to other parts of the proposed network. It is important to remember it is a 20-year plan. It is setting out long-term aspirations and it includes a number of projects which are for the very long term. That’s why the references are there. The plan has to set out a vision for the long term.”

CITY transport convener Gordon Mackenzie today said the council made a mistake in setting up its own trams company.

“With the benefit of hindsight, TIE should never have been set up. It is obvious now they were not up to the job of running a project like the tram. It really should have been taken forward by Transport Scotland.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com