Developers urged to accept Edinburgh council's plans to focus on brownfield development rather than releasing greenbelt sites

Developers have been urged to back council efforts to combat the climate crisis by accepting Edinburgh's new draft City Plan which focuses on brownfield land rather than new sites in the greenbelt.

Saturday, 25th September 2021, 4:55 am

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Green planning spokesman Chas Booth welcomed the plan which says there is more than enough land within the city for 37,000 new homes over the next ten years without releasing greenbelt sites for development.

He said: "I would be extremely disappointed if developers challenged this plan. I think it's absolutely clear we're in a climate crisis and we have to have a plan that prepares us for a climate crisis. In many respects this that's what this plan does.

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Map showing potential development areas

"I would urge developers not to stand in the way of tackling the climate crisis."

As well as the emphasis on brownfield sites, Cllr Booth praised the proposals to increase the amount of affordable housing, require high energy efficiency standards and create 20-minute neighbourhoods.

But he said: "We still have concerns that the proposals for the cycling and walking network and the green network are not as developed as they could be, so we are in discussion with colleagues about how we can potentially improve those even at this late stage."

Liberal Democrat councillor Kevin Lang said the plan was "a big positive step forward".

But he does expect challenges from developers over the failure to earmark greenbelt land for housebuilding.

He said: "There is going to be a huge amount of pressure heaped on now by housing developers and it's very important the council retains its backbone and remains steadfast in sticking with brownfield development.

"What the plan does underline though is the huge infrastructure improvements Edinburgh is going to need as a growing city – new schools, improved transport, broader health services – and there are very challenging questions about how all this is going to be paid for particularly after successive cuts to the council budget. And it does underline the need for a new fairer funding model for Edinburgh as a growing capital city."

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But Conservative planning spokesperson Joanna Mowat questioned whether the proposals were deliverable.

She said plan would make areas like Leith, Bruntsfield, Morningside, Stockbridge more densely populated

"There are 3,000 extra houses between Great Junction Street and Newhaven Road in the most densely populated part of the city. The question is can the services and infrastructure take it – the schools, health services, water, sewerage, electricity?

"And you're losing employment space to put that housing in, so where do people work and are you taking away from what are good places at the moment?

"It seems we are in danger of making it more difficult to live in places for a lot of people."

And she said she was not sure how realistic the stance against releasing new greenbelt sites was.

"The answer isn't rampant greenbelt building, but we have places in that plan which are not available – the Seafield site, the landowners don't want to sell in the lifetime of the plan; Astley Ainslie, the NHS says that is not coming forward because they can’t fund the replacement services, so is that going to be available in the lifetime of the plan?

"My concern is we say we have the answers but it doesn't deliver the housing we need."

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