Plan for 2000 homes near Edinburgh Airport

The proposed site
The proposed site
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A SUBURB the size of Balerno will spring up next to Edinburgh Airport under blueprints being lodged at City Chambers.

Around 2000 homes, a string of shops and a school would be built at a huge 75-hectare site at Maybury if planners give the development the green light.

The district may even have its own woodland and could be served by a planned railway station – on the Edinburgh to Glasgow line – to be sited near the airport.

Developer West Craigs Ltd has earmarked a site extending 40 acres beyond the city’s Local Development Plan – which dictates the Capital’s housing vision years to come.

But opponents claim the huge influx of new houses in west Edinburgh would fuel a population boom that will overwhelm roads and spark congestion on major city arteries.

Colin Keir, MSP for Edinburgh Western and a vocal critic of the planning process, said the concept of building thousands of new properties before upgrading roads in the area was “barking mad”. He insisted that junctions at Barnton, Maybury and West Craigs would become virtual no-go areas during rush hour if the plans were waved through.

Planning permission is already in place for the new railway station, dubbed “Edinburgh Gateway”, with work expected to be completed within two years.

Under the 2000-home plans, a new school will be built to accommodate young families drawn to the new-build community, which will be bordered by the railway to the south and Craigs Road to the north.

The city is expected to fork out around £2.7 million for a new Maybury Primary School, with part of that figure offset by contributions to be agreed with developers.

The proposed site has been earmarked for construction in the controversial Local Development Plan that was signed off by councillors before the summer.

West Craigs Ltd, the development firm behind the new Maybury suburb, has been formed by a partnership between asset management firm Cardross and Dunedin Canmore Housing Association, which will deliver affordable housing on the site as part of the deal.

A spokesman for the developers said: “West Craigs Ltd looks forward to engaging with City of Edinburgh Council and the community through the planning process.”

Mr Keir, however, is in no doubt about the community feeling.

He said: “I think it’s fair to say that 99 per cent of the communities of East Craigs, West Craigs, Craigmount and Cammo, amongst other places, are completely against the development of the west side of Maybury Road for the obvious reasons of traffic as well as other infrastructure reasons.

“There is absolutely no way that the traffic infrastructure at Maybury, East Craigs roundabout and Barnton Junction can handle anymore, particularly in the peak hour traffic movements.

“I firmly believe in new houses – you’ll get no argument from me at all.

“But can you possibly imagine the absolute misery there would be for the residents of West Craigs, East Craigs and beyond if any of these proposals are taken forward?

“To be perfectly honest, it is barking mad until such time as the city council can produce the road structure which can handle the traffic.

“Unless these things come along, I firmly believe any applications should be thrown out unreservedly.”

Planners have set aside land for a “green corridor” running through the middle of the plot including a cycle path, as well as other bike routes linking the development to nearby neighbourhoods.

A footbridge or underpass crossing the railway would also be created to provide access 
to the tram line at Gogar, as well as leading to the Gyle and the A8.

Despite the additional links to train and tram, Cammo Residents Association said the community was fearful that roads would be swamped with traffic.

A spokeswoman said: “Our major objection to the whole plan to build extra houses in this area is that the road infrastructure in this area is completely inadequate.

“We had those objections when the plans were for 700 houses at the Cammo Estate, and more down at Maybury.

“If there is now a plan that will increase the number of houses even more, we have real concerns about this.”

And she added: “We cannot see how the road infrastructure will be able to cope with all the additional traffic that will result from the extra properties in this area.”

Amid a chronic housing shortage in Edinburgh, the city must find land to build 24,530 homes by 2019 and a further 7,391 by 2024.

Vaughan Hart, managing director of Scottish Building Federation, said that housing demand in the Capital was outstripping supply despite 
the number of properties 
being completed rising by 20 per cent.

He said: “The City of Edinburgh contributed positively to an increase in new home completions during the year to March 2014, showing an 18 per cent rise compared to a rise of 5 per cent across Scotland as a whole.

“But the annual rate of house building in Scotland remains more than 10,000 units below pre-recession levels.

“In that context, anything that can be done to increase the number of new homes getting built is welcome.

“This is particularly true for Scotland’s capital, where demand for housing continues to outstrip supply by a significant margin.”

City leaders are obliged to set out how they plan to deliver sufficient housing to the Scottish Government, which has the final say in signing off the Local Development Plan.

Alongside a neighbouring development site at the Cammo Estate, the homes at Maybury are the cornerstone of the 
city’s plan for new housing, accounting for 10 per cent of its target.

Many of the plots identified in the plan are on former greenbelt sites, such as Maybury, but brownfield sites make up the bulk of building land.

Planning experts have since warned that further greenbelt land needs to be released if the city is to meet its housing target.

Geddes Consulting said last week that there would be a shortfall of 12,000 homes unless more rural land in the west of the city was built upon.

Homes but far from dry for development plan

The 2000 home development at Maybury might not be the only major change to the landscape of west Edinburgh.

Plans for a £1bn “Garden District” could still be revived, potentially bringing another 3500 homes to the strip of land between the A8 and the M8 south of Edinburgh Airport.

The scheme, put forward by tycoon Sir David Murray’s firm Murray Estates, was left out of the Local Development Plan when it was published in June, but planners have left the door open to some homes being built opposite the RBS headquarters at Gogar.

Backers of the project say they remain hopeful that they can get the Garden District back on the agenda, according to planning consultant Robin Holder, who is linked to the scheme.

Responses to the Local Development Plan are still being considered, and at a meeting at the end of February, planning officials will decide whether the blueprint should be left as is, or whether it should include new areas. If so, sites currently earmarked could be dropped, which is why developers are moving quickly to declare their interest on plots which they want to build on.