Comment: We need a full public debate on housing

EDINBURGH enjoys the huge advantage of being a growing city and a popular choice as a place to work and to bring up families.
File picture: Ian WhiteFile picture: Ian White
File picture: Ian White

But a growing population brings strains on the city’s resources – from housing, educational needs and healthcare provision to transport infrastructure.

The Scottish Government has made no secret of what it wants: 32,000 new homes in the city by 2024. A robust plan for development across the whole city is vital. But instead the Capital is proceeding far too much on the basis of uncoordinated one-off planning decisions.

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Today the Evening News publishes a map showing how a series of mainly minor developments are being planned across the South-East of Edinburgh, amounting in total to around 6000 homes.

Residents are understandably concerned about the knock-on effect this will have on roads, schools, GP surgeries and other vital services.

No overall plan has been laid out to enable the public to see the scale of the development now being proposed in that area – until the publication of the map in today’s paper. We believe it is vital for a proper public debate to take place.

Urgent issues need to be addressed. Is there an over-arching plan that addresses the need for proper infrastructure and good quality green space rather than simply allowing piecemeal development?

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The city council has struggled to agree a development plan that meets the housing demands of the Scottish government. As a result, development in the south-east wedge in particular is being fuelled by appeals when the council refuses to approve plans.

The scale of the plans has sparked fears that the council has “lost control” of building in the city – creating a free-for-all for developers, and flying in the face of the concerns of the Save Our South East Wedge campaign group. All this comes as Edinburgh’s controversial Local Development Plan (LDP) remains in limbo despite being signed off by councillors last year.

Meanwhile an ambitious Garden District development on green belt on the west of the city is in limbo. The plan has its pros and cons. But, it would go a long way to relieving pressure on new home development, if the city were to decide to approve it. However, city officials, councillors and developers are at loggerheads and consideration of the scheme has again been deferred.

Our map sets out the scale of the challenge. It is now time for a full public debate to put development on a proper footing.