Throw out Garden District housing plans, Greens MSP urges

Garden District would see 6000 homes built in Edinburgh's west. Picture: supplied
Garden District would see 6000 homes built in Edinburgh's west. Picture: supplied
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A SENIOR politician is urging Edinburgh Council to throw out plans for a massive housing development on the outskirts of the Capital.

Proposals for the first phase of the so-called Garden District were given the go-ahead at a planning meeting on Monday, paving the way for 1320 homes to be built on greenbelt land between the City Bypass and Gogar Station Road.

The city council’s energies should be going into transforming existing brownfield sites that have good infrastructure connections and bringing empty properties back into use.

Alison Johnstone

But the ambitious scheme has still to be ratified before full council next month. Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, is urging city leaders to reject it.

She insisted the blueprints would “unnecessarily chew up yet more of our precious green belt when we should be protecting it.”

She said: “As the council’s own report made clear, there is plenty of land within Edinburgh that can be developed for housing.

“I would urge the full council to see sense and overturn the planning committee’s decision, which smacks of desperation.

“The city council’s energies should be going into transforming existing brownfield sites that have good infrastructure connections and bringing empty properties back into use.”

The first phase of the Garden District is part of a wider, £1 billion vision to build 6000 homes in the west of Edinburgh, as well as a 60-acre “national garden”.

Developer Murray Estates – owned by former Rangers chairman Sir David Murray – previously said the initial stage would create a “world-class extension to the nation’s capital”.

Proposals for 1320 homes and a new primary school were ushered through the planning committee on Monday by an overwhelming majority, but still need to be ratified by the full council before going to the Scottish Government for final approval.

Some community councils have thrown their weight behind the blueprints in the hope they will reduce the pressure to build homes in more contentious areas, such as Cammo Fields.

Andrew Mather, chair of Cramond and Barnton Community Council, said the crucial issue was getting the long-awaited local development plan (LDP) set in stone.

The LDP, the council’s city-wide planning blueprint, is still to be signed off by the Scottish Government but is expected to be rubber-stamped in the coming weeks.

Mr Mather said the uncertainty caused by its delay had created a “limbo of chaos” as developers attempted to push through planning applications in its absence. He said: “There’s no logic just now with the system at all. It’s all political, and there’s no logic to it. It’s a mess. [The LDP] would make life much easier.”

Phase one of the Garden District will go before the full council on June 2.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com