Colin Keir: Capital must build on brownfield sites

Colin Keir at Maybury's often 'overwhelmed' junction. Picture: Bill Henry
Colin Keir at Maybury's often 'overwhelmed' junction. Picture: Bill Henry
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The city must grow, Edinburgh requires homes for its growing population and house construction is one of the great ways to kick start the economy and create jobs.

In a week’s time, Sesplan (South East Scotland Planning Authority) will discuss the ­allocation of 107,500 homes. Edinburgh’s own Proposed Local Development Plan (LDP) shows proposals to ­allocate green belt land at Maybury and Cammo where up to 2100 houses could be built.

If you were to add Murray Estates ­Garden District proposal into this mix the problems escalate.

In normal circumstances I would encourage development for the ­reasons mentioned; however the ­proposals as set down in the LDP for these areas are simply crazy.

Traffic problems are obvious. Look at the Maybury and Cammo ­proposals.

Similar plans have been thrown out over the years by different ­council planning committees – they have obvious logistical problems which can’t be fixed by tinkering with traffic lights.

Barnton, East Craigs and Maybury junctions are overwhelmed at peak times. Any resident using the 31 bus service from East Craigs in the ­morning would tell you this.

The area is one of the biggest urban cul-de-sacs in Scotland. Imagine the misery for residents should the ­Maybury and Cammo proposals come to fruition? With West Craigs, Craigmount and Cammo also badly affected, it is clear the picture looks bleak for residents. And it also does not ease the ongoing problem of air pollution.

I conducted a survey of 2500 affected households.

Better than one in three households returned surveys, about twice the amount of replies the City of Edinburgh Council received for the city-wide planning proposals which helped kick this process off.

The city council may wish to review how effective their planning consultation process is.

Transport Scotland have carried out traffic assessments outside the city, but when you get into the entry ­junctions of Sighthill, Maybury and Barnton the responsibility belongs to the city council.

I can’t remember any recent plans being devised by ­officers for consideration by councillors to ease of traffic movement in and out of the city, other than trams, of course.

In my opinion, trams won’t make that much difference to easing this problem.

So the council has a problem.

I have suggested that the re-­designation of empty land at the South Gyle Industrial Estate for ­housing may be an answer in part, but there needs to be more land made available.

Using other brown field sites in the city must be considered.

Edinburgh is required to find ­development land, but we cannot just plant thousands of houses in green belt because it’s the “easy” thing to do.

Council officials must give councillors a plan that is right for our city.

Find options that don’t make ­residents’ lives a misery and allows easy and safe access along the main city roads.

These are key decisions for the future of Edinburgh.

We can’t afford to get it wrong for future generations. Edinburgh’s ­councillors must fight their corner at the Sesplan meeting and in the City Chambers.

• Colin Keir is SNP MSP for Edinburgh Western