West Edinburgh's £2b development 'unsustainable' warns Lord Provost

Concerns about developers' plans to build a new community, West Town, on land beside Edinburgh Airport have been raised by the city’s Lord Provost.

By Shona Elliott
Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 4:45 pm

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Plans include space for 7,000 homes as part of a completely new neighbourhood featuring offices, a school, GP surgery, park land and a vibrant town centre. A third of the homes would be earmarked for affordable housing suitable for key workers.

The £2billion project led by Sir Bill Gammell and Drum Property Group involves building on 205-acres of brownfield land which sits beside the tram line to Edinburgh Airport.

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An aerial view of the West Town site

While Lord Provost Frank Ross said he agrees the site should be developed he has raised serious concerns about Drum Property Group's plans for the area.

Mr Ross said: “While agreeing in principle to the development of this site, as always the devil is in the detail.”

Main concerns are lack of social housing and pressure of traffic

Mr Ross said more focus must be placed on social housing in order to meet the city’s needs.

Graeme Bone (L) and Sir Bill Gammell (R) unveil new project (picture - Jamie Johnston)

He said: “One of my main concerns is that the city and its citizens are in need of social housing not just affordable housing and there is no mention of social housing in their initial proposals.”

Mr Ross also raised concerns about further pressure this development will put on traffic flow.

He said: “The A8 corridor through Corstorphine and Roseburn is already under significant pressure in terms of traffic congestion and pollution levels. A development of this scale , in addition to the several thousand houses already under development, will undoubtedly increase these pressures and there appears to be no proposals to mitigate these or indeed recognise them.”

Development will increase pressures on local authority

Artistic impression of West Town

Mr Ross also highlighted fears about the additional financial burden this development will put on the already stretched local authority.

He said: “We have seen in prior years, developers have agreed to make contributions to the capital investment only to appeal these after planning permission has been agreed.

"This has resulted in additional significant financial pressures for the council.

“The current LDP for West Edinburgh has a significant listing of capital infrastructure requirements.

" Adding significantly to this list of unfunded infrastructure requirements is unsustainable.”

Heads of Drum Property Group have defended the planned development saying it will provide much needed affordable homes in the Capital.

Responding to Mr Ross’s comments a spokesman for West Town said: “Our ambition for West Town matches that of both the proposed City Plan 2030 and of the Scottish Government’s new planning framework NPF4 which was published earlier this month. We all realise the urgent need for new home provision in the capital and the aim is to create a new community that includes a significant amount of affordable housing, in line with City of Edinburgh Council requirements.

We’re looking forward to working with the local community and elected members at all levels to create a development which everyone can be proud of, and one that ensures the city meets the unprecedented demand for sustainable new homes on brownfield sites, as proposed by the City Plan.’

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