Comment: Building to the west makes sense

Artist's impression of Garden District. Picture: supplied
Artist's impression of Garden District. Picture: supplied
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IT is not often that a massive housing development is welcomed with open arms by the communities that live nearby.

The prospect of hundreds of new homes being built might be viewed favourably by the silent majority who worry about themselves or their children being priced out of Edinburgh by spiralling property prices. But with building on the scale being proposed at the Garden District – 1350 new homes and a school – there is usually vocal protest from surrounding communities. Not so much with Murray Estates plans for its land outside the city bypass.

The fact that the land involved does not back on to existing housing schemes, like so many other proposals in the Capital do, is the single biggest factor. Many in the nearest communities in west Edinburgh recognise that building hundreds of homes at the Garden District site increases their chances of blocking other housing plans on their doorsteps, plans that they fear will overwhelm their neighbourhoods. Those will be battles fought another day.

It is not that the Murray Estates plans have been without their critics. They have been described as a “raid” on the greenbelt and there are concerns about how some cycling and pedestrian links to neighbouring areas will work.

Overall though, the prospect of so many urgently needed new homes being built on land that is largely fields covered in chicken sheds is good news for the city. Part of the scheme will be significant new park land which will be enjoyed by its residents.

There are only so many ways that a city surrounded by the sea and hills can grow. Building to the west, near existing transport links, makes sense.

After the debacle that has seen Edinburgh’s development plans aptly described as “mince”, it is good to see the city taking control of the process again. But we still need a clearer vision for development across the rest of the city.