New housing is great, but it needs infrastructre in place first - Moyra Forrest

Council has lost sight of proper planning for home expansion in the Capital

Monday, 9th December 2019, 7:05 am
A prototype house for homeless people created by Josh Littlejohn's Social Bite charity

Before Edinburgh opens up any more land for housing, there are some serious concerns which need to be addressed.

Some facts seem necessary. Where is the existing land in the council’s landbank? How many affordable homes with planning permission have actually been built and inhabited? Are there instances of planning consents being varied to reduce the number of affordable homes originally given permission?

The achievements of Social Bite and founder Josh Littlejohn are remarkable; those of the council somewhat less praiseworthy.

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A former act of council demanded that infrastructure should be in place before new housing development took place. Whatever happened to that?

Can water and drainage services cope? The city is awash with blocked drains, partly suffering overuse, and partly due to non-clearance of leaves.

A recent smell of sewage coincided with extra activity at the local pumping station. The proliferation of Airbnb properties puts unanticipated heavy demand on water and drainage.

Can the transport system cope? Roads are not fit for the current volume of traffic. There is gridlock daily at peak times.

Pavements are not pedestrian-friendly: there is sometimes more spray from puddles along the seafront than spray from the sea - making it almost impossible to use the pavements without getting soaked. And cyclists are using pavements increasingly.

The much-hyped tram to Granton has still to appear and the tram to Newhaven may face many delays, despite some of the preparatory work causing huge inconvenience to the local population some years ago.

Can the schools cope? Locally, a new primary school has been on the cards for a number of years. During that time, have all necessary repairs been done at the existing school? The new school is now running behind schedule; some local children will never benefit.

Are there recreational facilities? Again, the much-hyped Central Park locally may postdate local housing development by up to a generation. A condition of consent for the school may mean even more housing development.

There are similar examples all over Edinburgh.

I would urge everyone to add their voices to the consultation due in December.

You don’t need to be an ‘expert’ and shouldn’t be put off by jargon. It’s our city, and our opinions matter.

Moyra Forrest is a former Liberal Democrat councillor in Edinburgh and a member of the council’s Planning Committee for 11 years