A LOCAL crane hire company has unveiled ambitious plans to create 270 jobs by developing their land at Gilmerton with business start-up units, a 60-bed hotel, community hall, medical hub, food store, neighbourhood shops and cafe.
Family firm Bernard Hunter, which also works in recycling, said it wanted to retain its current base and bring a boost to the area rather than see the land handed over for more houses.
The £25 million “Gilmerton Gateway” development would also include a transport hub at the existing bus terminus on the edge of the site with improved facilities for drivers and passengers on a key transport corridor.
A previous development proposal for the site was withdrawn after the council said it included too much retail.
Mark Rafferty, managing director of Bernard Hunter and grandson of the company’s founder, said the firm had a long and proud history of being based in Gilmerton and supporting the local community.
He said: “It is our dearest wish that we can continue our success in Gilmerton and continue to support the local area and local people.
“The council has made it clear this land will be developed. We have focused on seeking to achieve the best development possible for Bernard Hunter and for Gilmerton, and we firmly believe that is not housing.
“Our previous proposals received an overwhelmingly positive response from the local community, and we will be consulting further in the coming weeks.
“These proposals are a win-win. Gilmerton Gateway will deliver ‘good growth’ as set out in the council’s economic strategy and deliver jobs and community investment in an area where they are badly needed. We feel it would be a missed opportunity if this became just another housing site.”
Thousands of new homes are already planned for sites nearby.
And Mr Rafferty said alternative plans for housing on his site were given a lukewarm reception from local people when they were consulted.
He said Gilmerton Gateway would be the area’s first major private sector mixed use investment, bringing jobs to an area with one of the highest poverty rates in Edinburgh.
And he said the proposals would help alleviate tourism pressures in the city centre by encouraging local tourism with the proposed new hotel, boosting attractions at nearby Gilmerton Cove and Craigmillar Castle. The site could also link to the new proposals for a major new biking facility at Hillend.
The proposed community hall would include Scotland’s first community archery centre and a new home for the Drum Archers, one of Edinburgh’s and Scotland’s most successful sporting organisations.
Currently the club meets in a former hangar which was used by farmers to store potatoes.
Pauline Macfarlane, of the Drum Archers, said a new base would be great. “We would be able to open the doors to more people.
“At the moment we have a stone floor, brick walls and a tin roof, no heating and lots of buckets to catch the drips.”
A consultation drop-in session on the Gilmerton Gateway proposals will be held in Gilmerton Library on Monday May 20, from 5-8pm.