Council approves plans for new and '100 per cent affordable' housing development in Wester Hailes

Design for the new developmentDesign for the new development
Design for the new development
The 0.55-hectare development will comprise a mixture of 69 one, two and three-bedroom flats and maisonettes, set within three flatted blocks ranging between four and six storeys high.

Plans to build a new and ‘100 per cent affordable’ housing development in Wester Hailes have been approved by Edinburgh City Council.

Edinburgh-based contractors J.Smart and Co will be building the development on what is currently an open and empty green space North West of 13 Clovenstone Gardens.

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Public spaces and private gardens will be built in and around the blocks, alongside pedestrian and cycling routes. Meanwhile, landscaping around the site will incorporate views across Kingsknowe Golf Course.

The development will only contain 30 car parking bays, however there will be space for 148 bicycles to be parked on the ground floor.

In order to make room for the development, 26 groupings of category A listed trees are set to be chopped down. In their place 32 tress, 20 per cent of which are “large scale”, will be replanted.

Green Cllr Chas Booth moved to reject plans for the new development at the Council’s Development Management Sub-Committee meeting on Wednesday.

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Cllr Booth told the meeting: “The trees to be taken out are category A, which means they are defined as worthy of retention under our own policies. The criteria under which those trees are permitted to be removed is very restrictive. I don’t believe that we’ve heard the case made that the criteria has been met.

“Also, the current pandemic has made the need for open space absolutely clear… The people with the least access to open spaces are those on the lowest incomes in the city’s most deprived areas. For that reason I think it is absolutely essential that especially in our most deprived areas, of which this is one, we maintain access to open space.”

However, the majority of councillors sitting on the Development Management Sub-Committee are enthusiastic about the project going ahead.

The committee’s Convener, Cllr Neil Gardiner, told the meeting: “There’s a loss of trees but overall, in viewing the contribution to Wester Hailes and place making in Wester Hailes, I support this application.

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“All planning decisions are a matter of balance. I know that this site is designated open space, but it’s not actually being used as such because the site is fenced off. This development will create open space which will be usable for the 69 families or people who live in these homes. People in the Clovenstone area will also be able to access the open area – so we are creating space not losing it. The greater good of this development is that it will provide much needed housing to the city.”

Committee Vice-Convener, Cllr Maureen Child, told the meeting: “This development introduces 69 human households to an area which currently is not accessible by the rest of Wester Hailes.

“It provides a frontage to the street and while you might be losing trees, what you’re gaining in terms of swift net boxes and bat nest boxes will actually increase the biodiversity of the area, including external space that will be managed. I think it’s a good development and I’m happy to see that people will be able to use it.”