Science and Advice for Agricultural Services (SASA) has withdrawn an objection to Murray Estates’ proposed £1 billion so-called “Garden District” in west Edinburgh.
Plans for the first phase of the major housing development – including 1320 homes – stalled following the high profile objection from SASA, a government agency tasked with battling crop diseases and growing “historic” potatoes and peas, alongside other plants.
Boasting “a world-class laboratory, glasshouse and experimental farm facility”, SASA also tests new crops, monitors pesticides and acts as the Scottish Government’s inspectorate of genetically modified crops.
The facility claimed the vision – which is just the first phase of his wider, £1 billion “Garden District” plans for around 6000 homes – would “pose a threat to the integrity of the work being carried out”.
It said the current greenbelt location “provides a high degree of bio-security necessary for the scientific work being carried out”.
But plans are back on track after SASA reached an agreement with Murray Estates.
The developers offered to mitigate the impact of the development on the facility with proposals such as substantial woodland planting and enhanced boundary treatments next to existing pedestrian routes.
Murray Estates has agreed to pay £150,000 towards the cost of the relevant mitigation measures.
As well as the significant financial contribution the developer has agreed to give the agricultural facility a piece of nearby land for no cost in a bid to lessen the impact the new homes would have on SASA’s future operations.
Developer Murray Estates – owned by former Rangers chairman Sir David Murray – claims the ambitious scheme would create a “world class extension to the nation’s capital”.
Jestyn Davies, managing director of Murray Estates Limited said: ‘We’re delighted to have secured agreement with SASA that removes the main objection to the principle of development at the Garden District.
“We worked hard to ensure that our proposals deliver a world class extension to Edinburgh in a way that works with key local stakeholders.
“This is a major step forward for our proposals and will help deliver over 1,300 much needed new family homes for Edinburgh.
“We will continue to work with the Council and other interested parties through the planning process to resolve the remaining issues of detail.”
City councillors gave the scheme the green light last year but because SASA is a government body, the Garden District plans were referred to Scottish ministers for their final approval.