A £500m development across the Forth in Fife has cleared its first hurdle, setting the stage for the new Queensferry Crossing to become a major commuter corridor.
Hundreds of new homes are set to be built as part of the Rosyth Waterfront masterplan after councillors and developers broke a ten-year deadlock over how a 120 acre former naval fuel storage yard should be regenerated.
Property experts said the new housing could see young families who have been priced out of the Edinburgh property market flee across the Forth in search of their first home, expanding the borders of Edinburgh’s commuter belt even further.
But councillors in the Capital expressed fears that western approaches to the city, already choked with traffic, would struggle to cope with a flood of new commuters, and called for improved public transport services to help deal with the influx.
The development to the east of Rosyth’s dockyard, where the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers are being built, will see a waterfront esplanade rise out of industrial wasteland including shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries. Developers the Scarborough Muir Group claim the project could create 9000 jobs.
Director William McAllister said: “There’s quite a large commuter catchment already existing within south-west Fife. The proximity of the area to Edinburgh is going to improve with the new bridge opening.”
Mr McAllister added that the Forth Bridge’s newly-awarded Unesco World Heritage status would also help turn the new esplanade into a destination for tourists and locals alike.
He said: “We want to create an environment where you can live, work and socialise. It will cater to the growing needs of tourism, linking in with the Forth Bridge Unesco heritage status.”
Fife Council’s executive committee cleared the way for detailed plans to be submitted by developers, after it agreed to consider mixed-use proposals for the site. Opposition to new housing being part of any new development has previously stalled regeneration plans.
Fife Council finance convener Pat Callaghan said: “This is great news for Rosyth. Scarborough Muir have spent years decontaminating this site and the committee’s decision to support them is being positively received with news that a planning application is now being drawn up.”
Business analyst at Edinburgh property firm ESPC, Maria Botha-Lopez, said the development would “widen” the boundaries of the city’s market for homes.
She said: “There’s a shortage of property in the market at the moment, so any sort of additional development in and around the area is always welcome. Providing the prices are set at an affordable level, it will encourage first-time buyers to look outside the city, as well as expanding families.”
Edinburgh councillor Lindsay Paterson, who represents the Almond ward that includes both road bridges, warned that traffic was already “nose to tail” on the western approaches to the city.
She said: “The Maybury and Barnton junctions are both pretty well packed every rush hour. They’re nose to tail, so there will be a challenge working with the existing road network. There’s bound to be more cars produced by new development, whether people are coming from west Edinburgh, West Lothian or Fife.
“There needs to be actual, tangible improvement to bus and rail services – enough to get people out of their cars.”