the Scottish Government’s intervention in the Capital’s housebuilding crisis will provoke a mixture of reactions.
It has been clear for many years that Edinburgh needed a coherent plan for thousands of new homes but here we are today with no such blueprint in place.
The city’s approach to housebuilding has become a complete dog’s dinner so there will be relief in many quarters that someone has finally taken charge. Now at last things might start to become a little clearer about what can be built where.
There will be concern at the same time, especially in places like Cammo, where residents are dreading the prospect of large-scale housebuilding without the proper infrastructure to support it.
Does Alex Neil’s ruling raise the prospect of those plans being waved through? It is still hard to tell. On the surface, the answer has to be yes, but hopes remain within the SNP that the minister will throw the plans out in the coming weeks to deliver the party a timely pre-election boost.
There will also be anger – and justifiably so – at the paralysis that has descended on the council over the issue. We elect councillors to represent our interests, but they have completely failed to do that, allowing key decisions on the city’s future to pass to Holyrood.
If there is one principle that runs through local politics, it is surely this, that decisions which affect Edinburgh should be taken as close to the people of the city as possible. We should keep control of our own destiny, not abdicate it.
The local planning process has now become so bogged down in red tape and mean party politics that there is no quick solution.
What is needed is a clear vision. That will inevitably involve some building in the green belt and some near people’s homes. The question is where. It won’t be popular. But anyone who will stand up and say it deserves credit for telling the truth.