Closure of Edinburgh's Redford barracks postponed for four years
A stay of execution for Edinburgh’s historic Redford barracks has been welcomed, but with a warning it could cause issues for the city’s future housebuilding plans.
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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced on Thursday that closure of the barracks, which date back more than 100 years, was being postponed from 2025 to 2029.
It is the second time the closures plans, part of a rationalisation of the military estate in Scotland, have been delayed.
It was announced in November 2016 by the then defence secretary Michael Fallon that Redford would go in a package of cuts which included 56 bases across the UK, eight of them in Scotland.
The axe was due to fall in 2022, but in 2019 Ministry of Defence (MoD) bosses revealed the closure date had been pushed back to 2025.
Redford had also been placed on an MoD closure list in 2011 before the plans were reversed two years later and the barracks were reprieved.
The latest change of plan came along with an announcement that Glencorse barracks in Penicuik, which was earmaked to close in 2032, would now remain open, while Kinloss in Moray and Leuchars in Fife would be expanded.
Several buildings at Redford barracks are listed, along with the parade grounds and the site includes a lot of open space.
Colinton/Fairmilehead Tory councillor Jason Rust said the postponement of the closure was good news.
He said: "This four year delay is welcome to ensure a robust plan is in place. It will give time to get the optimum future solution for this valuable site and for our local community and amenity as well as for the military personnel.”
But he said it also threw doubt on the council's approach to the City Plan 2030, which identifies sites throughout the city for new housing and aims to avoid granting permission for fresh developments in the green belt.
“The council were counting on the Redford site towards their numbers. A lot of the brownfield sites in the City Plan are not necessarily going to be available in the next few years."
The City Plan envisages the vacant Redford site becoming “a housing-led, mixed-use development which draws the surrounding communities together, through the provision of new connections, open spaces and other community infrastructure”.
And it says the development should respect the heritage of the site, find new uses for all listed buildings, keep the existing parade grounds free from development and provide Interpretation of the site’s military history.
Cllr Rust said: "The extra few years now gives the opportunity for genuine community involvement and get the best thing for the site which might be a mixture of uses."
Scott Arthur, Labour councillor for Colinton/Fairmilehead, also welcomed the postponement.
He said: "This should give the military time to work with the local community to get the right redevelopment plan for the site.
"I’m urgently seeking advice from city planners o understand the impact on the City Plan because I want to be sure the green belt remains protected.”
Redford barracks were built between 1909 and 1915 and were originally designed to accommodate 1,000 military personnel.
At the time of their construction, the barracks were the largest military installation in Scotland since Fort George, near Inverness.