Analysis: What does new planning draft mean for the Capital?

A 407-page report which could hold the key to the future of Edinburgh over the next 12 years, has now been submitted to Scottish Ministers.

Thursday, 26th July 2018, 10:16 am
Updated Thursday, 26th July 2018, 10:17 am
Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart and Colin Rae of Places For People at the 374-home Shrubhill development in Leith. Picture
Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart and Colin Rae of Places For People at the 374-home Shrubhill development in Leith. Picture

Planning authorities in Edinburgh, the Lothians, the Borders and Fife have spent four years preparing the new development plan, called SESplan 2, for the region that includes ambitious housing targets to address a worrying shortfall.

It is SESplan’s second proposed Strategic Development Plan and was submitted to officials from the Scottish Government for close scrutiny in June last year.

The detailed report was released on Tuesday provoking immediate comment from developers and politicians

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But what is the SESplan?

The Edinburgh and South East Scotland Strategic Development Planning Authority was created by Scottish Ministers in 2008.

The key role of the SDPA is to prepare and maintain a long term plan with a clear vision of how the area will change.

The purpose of the Strategic Development Plan is to assess issues between the six member authorities including housing, transport, employment, infrastructure and energy.

The current plan was approved in June 2013 and replaced the Edinburgh and Lothians Structure Plan, Fife Structure Plan and the Scottish Borders Structure Plan.

It sets out opportunities for investment in the region’s infrastructure to help businesses grow, assesses transport improvements, addresses and sets housing and environmental goals.

The plan sets the framework for Edinburgh council to then prepare a Local Development Plan (LDP) which identifies how land is used and determines what will be built and where.

What could SESplan 2 mean for Edinburgh?

The draft report identified the need and demand for new housing as a key point.

It stated: “New housing is needed to provide homes for those already living in the region, including younger people who need a first home, families who want to move up or older people who may wish to 

“New homes are also needed for those who want to move here, helping the economy grow so that strategic centres and town centres can continue to thrive.

“Access to well designed, energy efficient, affordable homes supports health and wellbeing and helps create successful places.”

And for Edinburgh that means that if Scottish Ministers approve SESplan 2 in full, nearly 50,000 new homes could be built over the next 12 years to avoid the current shortfall.

The draft plan projected 29,040 new homes in the city by 2030 but the examination report by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division recognised the vital need and demand for new homes.

The report now proposes 94,416 new homes across south-east Scotland – including 46,836 in Edinburgh.

It will be up to Edinburgh council’s LDP to decide where sites for these homes will be and if more land needs to be allocated, where that land will be.

Craig Ormond, director of Mactaggart & Mickel Homes, said: “The SESplan recommendations are extremely positive and should be well received by the industry, local authorities and communities, given the well documented shortage of quality housing in Scotland and the UK.”

But Green housing spokeswoman Cllr Susan Rae said there are other solutions than just increased land allocation. She said: “There is no doubting the impact the housing shortage has on the city: on our economy, our transport demands and the way families and communities can connect with each other.

“The city needs communities not just houses. That means focusing on brownfield land, on bringing empty homes back into use and on stopping the current flood of properties going into the holiday letting market.

“The most acute shortage is for homes which are well below market prices to replace tens of thousands of council homes sold off or demolished over the last 40 years.”

Liberal Democrat Cllr Kevin Lang agreed that infrastructure and community creation should be at the heart of future proofing Edinburgh. He said: “Everyone accepts that Edinburgh needs more housing, especially affordable homes. Where previous strategic and local development plans have fallen short is planning for the services and infrastructure needed to support new homes. We see that in places I represent like Queensferry and Kirkliston where poor planning has led to significant pressures such as long GP waiting times and heavy congestion on local roads.

“It is the easiest thing in the world to come up with a number and present it to a local council in terms of house building. What we need is the plan for schools, the plan for health services, the plan for transport so we are building sustainable communities.”