Edinburgh is growing rapidly but big developers and politicians need to listen to local people – Ian Murray MP
I love Edinburgh. As a vibrant city with so much to offer those who make their home here, it’s little wonder this city is constantly developing.
From the cranes and diggers in the centre to the housebuilding on the outskirts, there is expansion at an incredible rate.
Ultimately, more homes and greater economic development can help Edinburgh continue to flourish and cement our title as the best place to live in the UK and a thriving northern European capital.
But the rush to develop must not neglect local infrastructure or local opinion.
And it’s rightly causing widespread alarm in the capital that not enough thought is being put into the ongoing development projects.
Take the fury over plans for a 20-metre 5G mobile phone mast, with six antennas and three cabinets, next to the famous Morningside clock.
The iconic clock is the nearest thing Morningside has to a town centre, and cluttering up this important social space would destroy the area’s character.
On a larger scale, anyone who has driven from Shawfair to Straiton in recent months will notice that the area has become almost unrecognisable.
Where once there were fields, thousands of houses are now springing up. The equivalent of an entire new town has been built in the south-east of the city, with more to come.
Virtually all greenbelt land up to the bypass has either now been developed, is being developed, or is the subject of proposals.
A lot of the planning permissions were issued years ago on appeal by the Scottish government, which frequently over-rules the council planning committee to permit developments.
Like most politicians, I recognise the need for more housing, particularly social housing, which too often is an afterthought.
But we can’t simply build vast housing estates with little or no thought to the facilities and infrastructure required to sustain healthy communities.
This is a problem for both existing and new residents.
Roads are now incredibly congested – as anyone who has tried driving or travelling by bus along any of the main routes will now tell you.
And it’s almost impossible to register with a GP or an NHS dentist.
My recent research found that only four out of 14 doctor practices in Edinburgh South are taking on new patients and only one in Liberton/Gilmerton.
I have tried to get the Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to sort this crisis, but he doesn’t seem to care and has simply passed the buck.
At the same time, high-quality green leisure space and children’s play areas are non-existent and there is a dearth of local shops and community facilities. What could the incredible Edinburgh South FC do with new facilities for the hundreds of kids that play with them every week?
This is bad for new residents and also affects existing residents in all communities across the area, as what little infrastructure that exists is put under increasing pressure.
I have started a petition to build better places, which can be found at www.ianmurraymp.com.
It’s time for big developers, the city council, and the Scottish government to listen to the voices of local communities in South Edinburgh.
Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South