DEVELOPERS and property buyers are driving a housing “explosion” along the Borders Railway corridor, with the number of new homes built in one area more than doubling in the space of a year.
New houses completed last year in Midlothian soared to 916 – a massive increase on the 451 properties finished in 2011.
The construction surge almost matched the number of houses – 1097 – built across all of Edinburgh for the year, while development of 768 new homes also started in Midlothian last year.
Experts have said the boom is partly down to the £294 million rail link, expected to open in summer 2015, with an estimated 400 of the new-build houses created in areas located immediately along the new rail route – Dalkeith, Newtongrange, Mayfield, Gorebridge, Bonnyrigg, Rosewell and Shawfair.
Rettie & Co Edinburgh head of research Dr John Boyle said that the development of the Borders link connecting Edinburgh Waverley to Tweedbank was a major factor in the housing boom.
He said: “The rail link is one of the drivers for what we’ve seen as an explosion in Midlothian in terms of new-builds in the last few years.
“It’s also partly because of the fact it’s on the commuter roads into Edinburgh. It’s got relatively easy access.
“Prices for new-build properties there tend to be about £180 to £200 per square foot, which is very affordable compared to Edinburgh levels.”
The appeal of the area for buyers was put down to people who wanted to work in the Capital but still enjoy the rural lifestyle.
Dr Boyle added that the boom was also being fuelled by an availability of development land and less restrictive planning regulations.
Persimmon Homes is among developers cashing in on sites close to the rail line, with developments at Gorebridge and Dalkeith.
Ron Hastings, managing partner of real estate agency Hastings & Co, said inquiries about residential property close to the 35 miles of track had soared by 50 per cent in the first six months of this year.
The total volume of residential sales in Midlothian rose by 29 per cent to £58.3 million between April and June this year compared with the same period in 2012, based on the latest quarterly report released by Registers of Scotland.
Average property prices were also up 3.2 per cent.
Economic development cabinet member Councillor Jim Bryant said: “It is clear that housing developers regard the new rail line as a major asset and this is reflected in the degree of developer interest being shown in the eastern part of the county.”
A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “It is often the case that the opening of a new railway line can be a catalyst for the development of towns along the route, thus contributing to rising house prices.”