Jestyn Davies: Garden District vital to tackle housing shortage

Artist's impression of the proposed Garden District.  Picture: supplied
Artist's impression of the proposed Garden District. Picture: supplied
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SIR David Murray’s Garden District plans are essential in helping to tackle the city’s shortfall of housing stock, says Jestyn Davies

I DO feel that I have to respond to the comments made by Gina Davidson in her column in yesterday’s Evening News.

Firstly, in relation to her personal comments about David Murray, I can only say that whilst the businesses created by David Murray were hit hard by the economic crash of 2008 in the same way as a host of other businesses, he has in fact created thousands of jobs and given improved life chances to a great many people and families from Edinburgh and beyond over a great many years.

Indeed, David was instrumental in establishing west Edinburgh as a major employment hub – now Scotland’s fourth largest employment area. In addition, David is still creating business and jobs here in Edinburgh where he has always kept his company headquarters.

With regards to the comments made by Ms Davidson about the Garden District proposals, I can only say that whilst the planning report before the council suggested that there was sufficient land available to meet Edinburgh’s housing targets, that is not the view of the Scottish Government which estimates that there is currently a shortfall of 4500 houses in the city.

That shortage means that a great many people with families have found that they can’t afford to get the house they want in the city and have had to choose to live outside Edinburgh. Only increasing housing supply will help to tackle that issue 
in the city, and the Garden District can make a significant contribution to increasing the city’s housing supply.

As one of the most sustainable sites in Scotland, it has also has great transport connections, so perhaps that’s why local groups, community councillors and the planning committee have given it their backing.

Lastly, and despite being a rugby fanatic, I do feel I have to resort to a football analogy. When someone chooses to “play the man” rather than the ball in the way that Gina Davidson has in her article, I do think it exposes the weakness of their arguments.

There were very strong planning reasons why the Garden District was approved by the planning committee, and it is the planning arguments that should drive decision-making in Edinburgh.

These proposals create a world-class extension to the city and they will help to seriously tackle the city’s housing need.

• Jestyn Davies is managing director for Murray Estates