West Edinburgh masterplan: Vision of 11,000 new homes in new neighbourhood along A8 close to Edinburgh Airport
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The plan – which is now out to consultation – envisages net-zero houses, including affordable homes, alongside shops, schools, healthcare and leisure facilities. And the new community would follow the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods, where most of people’s daily needs can be met within walking distance of their homes.
Land around the airport has been the focus for speculative proposals from developers over the years, but the masterplan represents the first detailed vision for how the area could be shaped for the future, covering housing, workplaces, transport and other essentials of community life.
The new neighbourhood would be created north of the A8 Glasgow Road, embracing 190 hectares, extending from Eastfield Road in the west to Maybury junction in the east, with Edinburgh Airport and Turnhouse Road lying to the north. The council’s overall development blueprint, the proposed City Plan, which is awaiting Scottish Government approval, calls for housing-led, high-density, mixed-use development, with the potential for 10,950 residential units.
Potential sites identified within the area include Saica Packaging in Turnhouse Road – 1,000 units; West Craigs Industrial Estate, formerly West Craigs Quarry, in Turnhouse Road – 200 units; Crosswinds, the airport’s former secondary runway – 2,500 units; land next to Edinburgh Gateway, lying east of the Gogar Burn, in Glasgow Road – 250 units; and land known as “Edinburgh 205”, between Phase 1 of the International Business Gateway and Castle Gogar Estate, west of the Gogar Burn – 7,000 units.
Council leader Cammy Day said: “The west of the city is an area of strategic importance locally, regionally and within Scotland and beyond. It has three waterways, major rail and tram routes running through it and is home to the city’s busy airport which has more than 11 million passengers passing through it every year. Leisure plays a big part in the community too. Every year the Royal Highland Centre in Ingliston hosts many prestigious international and national concerts, conferences, and other events. There are also several major educational establishments serving students locally and from all over the world. This all makes it a popular place to live, work and study and we need to take action to respond to the opportunities and challenges this presents.
“We’re looking to create a new neighbourhood to the north of Gogarburn and so we’ve produced a proposed masterplan with a range of new opportunities for much needed affordable housing. We’re also using 20-minute neighbourhood principles, as in the rest of the city, to make sure future residents live well locally with schools, healthcare and leisure facilities nearby. Like other neighbourhoods in west Edinburgh this new community needs to be well connected to the rest of the city, the wider region and beyond through improved public transport links.
“It’s an exciting time for the west of Edinburgh and I’d encourage you all to give us your views, whether that is online or at one of the drop in events we’ll be promoting in the coming months.”
Kevin Lang, Lib Dem councillor for Almond ward, which includes the airport and its surroundings, welcomed the consultation, particularly since it reinforced the council’s declared policy of not releasing any more greenbelt land for development. He said: “I think it’s good news we’ve got another set of plans which back up the City Plan the council gave the Scottish Government that shows you can develop areas, whether it’s for housing or economic development, without handing over a single acre of greenbelt land for development.
“There remain serious questions about how the infrastructure improvements that would be needed to support and sustain this development would be paid for. In particular, we will have to rethink how we provide transport infrastructure for a part of the city that is already struggling with the loss of public transport. So, while it’s great to see ambition, there are serious questions about how all of this should be delivered.”
He said it now seemed unlikely the tram would be extended to Newbridge or beyond and, although the existing tram line would serve a lot of the area near the airport, there would need to be significant improvements in bus services if people were not to be left dependent on their cars.
“The masterplan proposes not just housing, not just offices, it is about creating communities. If you’re doing that and being consistent with the 20-minute neighbourhood concept, you have to think about transport, schools, health services – that’s why this is progress, but still with questions about how it can be delivered and especially about the costs.”
The council’s consultation includes three separate documents on West Edinburgh – the one which focuses on the new neighbourhood closes on October 4; another on transport improvements along the A8 / A89 corridor closes on September 5: and one on the broader development of the area closes on October 10.