Letters: We need independent city green belt review

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The new Edinburgh Local Development Plan is a key policy instrument for promoting the future growth and economic prosperity of the city up to 2024. It has been a long and costly exercise for the council and all stakeholders involved.

The new Edinburgh Local Development Plan is a key policy instrument for promoting the future growth and economic prosperity of the city up to 2024. It has been a long and costly exercise for the council and all stakeholders involved.

However, it would appear that the council’s planning policies and proposals are again seeking to tightly control the supply of land for house-building, contrary to Scottish planning policy, thereby constraining the development of open market and affordable housing.

A total (minimum) requirement of 8484 houses is identified to address strategic targets which require greenfield development. Appropriate green belt release in the right locations at the right time is inevitable to provide housing land and the current allocated sites amount to a very small percentage of the overall land mass primarily designated to prevent coalescence and urban sprawl.

Green belt policy itself is not an instrument for preventing change and development. The weight given to its status by the council is disproportionate when there are insufficient alternative brownfield opportunities, a chronic shortage of housing and resultant rising residential prices.

More than enough land is identified within the existing green belt (and other local designations) to meet planning objectives. It is of variable quality and existing boundaries are poorly drawn and justified.

Future economic growth will exert further development pressure on the city and the housing shortage will not go away without market intervention.

Nonetheless, it would appear that by constraining supply the council will seek to justify its position in relation to unresolved objections at a forthcoming LDP examination later this year.

Maintenance of the prevailing position, which needs to demonstrate exceptional circumstances, would indicate that Edinburgh will have a period of determination by appeal, which is exactly what a plan-led system is there to avoid.

There is an urgent need for an independent green belt review involving the Scottish Government which properly balances environmental and development pressures commensurate with the economic development ambitions of the city.

LDP2 does not reflect the aspirations of the council’s economic development or housing strategies. Current allocations will not meet the requirements for a five-year supply and it seems clear that council planners will soon need to re-think their approach to what development is appropriate to provide a generous land supply.

Rick Finc, Director, RFA Planning and Development Consultants, Walker Street, Edinburgh

Time to tame tourist tat on Royal Mile

Walking down the Canongate yesterday I was surprised by the number of ‘Scottish tat’ shops selling questionably authentic Scottish goods.

A few of the shops and cafes I went in to told me they are not allowed by the council to display an A-board outside their premises advertising quality Scottish goods, yet the tat shops can get away with clothes rails, boards, postcard stands and other items obstructing the pavement.

As a resident I’m concerned at what the tourists must think of our most historic street selling all this rubbish.

On a visit to Salzburg last year I walked down their main tourist street and all the shops (even McDonald’s and Starbucks) complied with the use of colours and signage in a tasteful manner. Maybe a representative of the council could make a wee trip to other cities to get some ideas on how it’s done.

John Clark, Canongate, Edinburgh

Osborne is wrong on Scottish investment

I read with interest the latest report from Ernst and Young on figures for inward investment into Scotland and was struck by the fact that what it says and what the UK Government claim appear to be at odds.

The figures indicate that the number of inward investment projects into Scotland last year rose by eight per cent to a near-record of 82 and the Scottish share of UK research and development projects rose from 20 per cent to 33 per cent. This is the highest figure for 16 years and Scotland remains second only to London as a place foreign firms want to do business in the UK. Scotland’s advantage over the English regions has also widened.

This is all rather strange given that Chancellor George Osborne warned us last year that the Scottish independence debate was putting off inward investment. Yet again, another example of Unionist scaremongering demonstrated to be patent nonsense.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Scotland should follow example of Germany

After the Second World War, Germany was left as a pile of broken rubble. Now their country is pre-eminent in Europe. The Union between East and West, far from being a problem has made them stronger than ever.

Contrast this with the steady, unmitigated decline of Britain under a succession of incompetent governments. We are now on the brink of a national debt of £1.6 trillion and despite all the current cuts and postponement of pension payments, Osborne is still borrowing around £100 billion a year.

Westminster tells us we should hang on to a system which presents us with weapons of mass destruction and sucks southwards our national assets to cosset the sacred cow, London.

Germany succeeded in rising from the dust because it pursued progressive policies tailored for Germans, which avoided involvement in foreign wars and legislated to mitigate a housing bubble and the resulting inflation.

September gives us an opportunity to vote for an unfettered government of whatever political hue, which will have three positive priorities: Scotland, Scotland and Scotland.

Joseph G Miller , Gardeners Street, Dunfermline