John McLellan: Bricking it over housing report

There is no sign of white smoke from the Scottish Government about the delayed South-East Scotland Strategic Development Plan (SESplan 2), crucial to the planning of the region's future housing needs.

Thursday, 10th January 2019, 5:00 am
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart

A report submitted to Housing Minister Kevin Stewart in July was expected to be signed off in September but has yet to be approved.

A detailed letter of objection was submitted by the house-building trade association Homes for Scotland and shortly before Christmas the Government let it be known it would not be rushed into a timescale for reaching a conclusion.

The problem surrounds the projected delivery of affordable housing and the original report estimates just under 50,000 can be built by 2030, but HfS believes it should be 78,000 to include affordable units built by the private sector. If the lower figure is accepted then not enough land will be allocated for the 29,000 others the industry believes are needed.

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Official projections expect the regional population to grow by 80,000 to 1.37m by 2026, 39,500 of them in Edinburgh. The current SESplan estimate is for 29,000 new affordable homes in Edinburgh by 2030 and the council’s plan is for 20,000 by 2027. Not all those new people will live on their own, but need for single accommodation in the existing population continues to grow and drive up prices.

The demographics alone should tell the Housing Minister his Reporter has got it wrong and the sooner the mistake is corrected, and the city can get on with planning how it will meet demand the better.

Bin uplift crisis isn’t, it’s a success story

First World problems… Last week I was perhaps unfair to the council bins service in criticising the amount of time it took to uplift waste from our street.

Despite bins put out on the Friday being left until late on Boxing Day, this apparently wasn’t as bad as it seemed. After all, the letter telling people with uplifts on a bank holiday to have their bins out the previous Saturday didn’t give an absolute guarantee they would be emptied that day. But thanks to an internal email we now know that the expectation all along within the department was that collections would probably be a working day behind.

That meant a bin out on Saturday, December 22 probably wouldn’t be emptied until Christmas Eve, so a collection on Boxing Day was actually only one working day late. Crisis? What crisis?

Time to dig out a pothole Mole

Cyclists won’t argue with the findings of an insurance company survey which puts Edinburgh at the top of the UK pothole league, with 73 per kilometre. The slalom involved in crater avoidance often results in an angry horn-blast. Or worse.

A few days before the story broke there was a flurry of social media activity from an animated design for a futuristic pot-hole repair machine, but one already exists. The Road Mole was developed on The Wirral and its two-person crew can apparently complete a permanent circular repair in ten minutes. Earlier this year it won a Merseyside innovation award.

Must be worth a trial here?

Consent to conversion

A fierce but necessary debate in the development management committee yesterday resulted in permission being granted by a narrow margin for the conversion of the Victorian Magdalene Asylum on Gorgie Road into flats. The council and NHS-owned buildings have fallen into such disrepair that they are expensive to save and building some town houses next to them gives the developer a small profit. Edinburgh needs affordable housing, but it needs houses of all types to keep prices under control. And it needs affordable building too.