West Edinburgh housing plans risk creating 50s-style dormitory communities with little economic activity – John McLellan

The plans for 7,000 new homes around the airport have caused predictable, and to a great extent justifiable, concern about the impact on roads and infrastructure across West Edinburgh, especially with the fields between Maybury and Cammo already a vast building site.

Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 4:45 pm
Not everyone living in new homes built near Edinburgh Airport will work be able to work there (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)
Not everyone living in new homes built near Edinburgh Airport will work be able to work there (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)

There have been many false dawns and grand designs for the land around the A8, but with city planners incapable of keeping up with housing demand, the pressure to deliver the “West Town” scheme will be high.

While the issues about schools and health care can be physically addressed, staffing them is another question, and similarly already congested main roads into the city centre, which the tram has done little to alleviate, will worsen if there is a presumption the city centre will remain the main magnet for jobs.

Perhaps working from home will be the new norm, but where the occupants of 7,000 new homes will work is critical to its success, because they won’t all be employed at the airport or RBS.

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Land beside Edinburgh Airport planned for 7,000 homes by Sir Bill Gammell

That the homes are needed is not in question, nor that West Edinburgh is the best place for them to go, but economic underpinning is the unanswered question.

It’s no use looking at the council’s economy strategy because that’s long on empty political statements and short on practical proposals, but solutions will be needed if West Town is not to become a dormitory like Winchburgh and Blindwells, and so many of the new towns of the 50s and 60s.

Investment in Heriot Watt University? Communities build around economic opportunities, and that piece of the West Town jigsaw is still missing.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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