Ambitious plans to create a multi-million pound business park with offices, shops and thousands of homes have taken a massive step forward.
Developers have lodged outline plans for an International Business Gateway on 90 acres of fields and scrubland next to Edinburgh Airport, stretching from the RBS headquarters at Gogarburn to the Royal Highland Showground at Ingliston.
The project is expected to attract more than £700 million of investment, creating thousands of jobs and homes for the city’s growing population.
However, concerns have been raised that the roads network in an already congested area would struggle to cope with additional traffic generated by the development.
As well as airport and Glasgow-bound traffic using the A8, one of Scotland’s most polluted streets – St John’s Road – is nearby and a housing development is slated for future years.
Developers said they had identified a “package” of traffic management improvements – though they were unable to provide more detail at this stage.
Edinburgh West MSP Colin Keir insisted that important questions must be answered before the project was given the go-ahead and called on developers to come up with a “better deal” for residents.
“Maybury to the Barnton Junction is a real traffic block,” he said. “Corstorphine is already facing some of the highest pollution levels in the UK with a similar situation at Barnton.
“While there is a desperate need for houses, you can’t just put up a couple of thousand houses with no infrastructure in place to support it.
“People in Craigmount and East Craigs and West Craigs are up to their necks in traffic and it is irresponsible to allow that to get any worse.”
The formal application follows a blueprint published earlier this year by the development consortium, which comprises two Edinburgh-based companies, Murray Estates and New Ingliston, and a joint-venture set up by Frogmore and Salmon Harvester.
Jestyn Davies, of Murray Estates, stressed the scheme would help meet the growing demand for affordable office space.
And although the development has already been several years in the planning, developers say its prospects have been boosted by completion of the tram line between the airport and city centre, with the current Ingliston Park and Ride set to become a focal part of the development.
Martin Dalziel, director of New Ingliston, said: “It is extremely unusual, with a proposal of this type and of this scale, for high-end transport infrastructure to be already in place and fully operational before the first turf is cut.
“The seamless link the trams provide to Edinburgh Park, the central business district, and both main railway stations will in itself help generate investor and occupier interest.”
He added: “If approved, IBG will attract investment from both the UK and overseas and should lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs.”
Councillor Frank Ross, the city’s economy leader, described the project as one of the most “strategically important” in Scotland.
He said: “The location’s connectivity is unmatched, with the tram linking it directly to the city centre and the airport. Edinburgh Park business park and the global headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland are just minutes away.
“This is an exciting opportunity to deliver a flagship development that will help accommodate the city’s continued economic growth.”
Should the planning application be approved, work is expected to start around the middle of 2017.