Developers' 'dismay' as plans for new homes thrown out despite Edinburgh's housing crisis

PROPOSALS for hundreds of new homes on parkland at Little France have been rejected after an appeal found they would undermine Edinburgh's green belt.
Springfield Properties wanted to build hundreds of homes in Little FranceSpringfield Properties wanted to build hundreds of homes in Little France
Springfield Properties wanted to build hundreds of homes in Little France

But developers behind the scheme say they are “disappointed, dismayed and disillusioned” at the decision when the Capital is facing an ever-increasing need for more housing.

The city council refused two linked applications last year for up to 505 new homes at the Wisp, close to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, in what is known as Edinburgh’s South East Wedge. The larger application covered all 505 homes on land some of which is council-owned and some of which is controlled by the developers Springfield Properties. The second application was for 199 homes on the Springfield land only.

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The development would have included a range of three- and four-bedroom homes as well as two- and three-bedroom apartment blocks, with more than a third of the homes being classed as affordable housing.

Now a Scottish Government planning reporter has backed the council’s rejection of both applications, saying the development would be out of keeping in the area and undermine green belt objectives.

But Springfield Properties chief executive Innes Smith said: “We are disappointed, dismayed and disillusioned that our proposals to build almost 200 new, much needed, private and affordable homes on disused waste ground, for families to put down roots within the city boundary, have been refused.

“Edinburgh needs more homes to accommodate an ever-increasing population and to ease affordability with new homes in such short supply. This is demonstrated by the house price growth in the city which is well in excess of national benchmarks, having increased by 18 per cent over the last five years compared to 11 per cent nationally.

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"The council has stated previously that land from private development is vital for the delivery of affordable homes in the city and I would have expected that the impact of Covid-19 would have made housebuilding programmes more critical than ever. Indeed the delivery of family housing with gardens, access to green space and local amenities is exactly the type of housing the council should be promoting in a post-pandemic environment to help meet the Scottish Government’s aspiration for ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’.

“Our plans were to enhance the existing area by utilising a site, that is currently serving no purpose, adjacent to Little France Park. The provision of quality, energy efficient affordable and private homes on this site would have helped reduce Edinburgh’s housing crisis and would have made a significant contribution to the local economy, including the creation of jobs and apprenticeship opportunities for young people which will be equally vital post-pandemic. We will continue to review our options for this site.”

City planning convener Neil Gardiner welcomed the appeal decisions because they helped ensure the delivery of Little France Park, a high quality community parkland between Craigmillar and the hospital and bio-quarter which could be used by the community, workers and visitors alike.

He added: “Later this year the Council will bring forward a new proposed City Plan for the next 10 years which will identify sites for development of new low carbon sustainable homes and communities.”

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