Gogar homes bid rethink to spare west of city

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A POTENTIAL site for a new housing development near the City Bypass is to be explored in a bid to ease pressure on communities in the west of the Capital.

The pledge to reassess land at Gogar, between the city Bypass and the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters, which could accommodate about 850 new homes, will be included in the controversial blueprint for development in the area for the next 20 years.

It is set to be approved by councillor’s tomorrow after bitter disputes which had threatened to destroy the council’s ruling coalition.

The land – part of Sir David Murray’s £1 billion Garden District plan for more than 3500 homes – was originally rejected by officials as unsuitable because they said transport links were inadequate. But now they will be urged to take a closer look at the site amid growing protests from people in other parts of west Edinburgh about proposals for hundreds of homes at Cammo, Maybury, Currie and Balerno.

The Evening News revealed yesterday how the controversy over the Local Development Plan (LDP) came close to causing the collapse of the Labour-SNP coalition which has run the Capital for the past two years.

Labour, which backed planning officials’ proposals, threatened to end the partnership unless the SNP, which was calling for many of the sites in the west to be removed from the plan, agreed to a compromise.

The deal reached was to approve the LDP tomorrow, but continue looking for alternative sites and make a final decision in February.

The motion for tomorrow’s meeting says the Gogar site has easily accessible public transport links, including four tram stops, nearby bus routes and mainline train stations, and a clear boundary could be established along Gogar Station Road at the western edge of the site and the M8 motorway at the southern and south western end.

It is understood the rest of the Garden District plan has been ruled out for the moment because it is not seen as being able to meet the criteria within a ten-year timescale.

Labour’s planning convener Ian Perry stressed that despite the controversy over green-belt sites, 74 per cent of the homes in the LDP were due to be built on brownfield sites.

He said: “To give us the best chance of preserving the city’s green belt, the coalition will be proposing that none of the currently identified sites are removed at this stage of developing the Local Development Plan. Removing any of the current sites would mean the council could not meet the housing target agreed by the government, which could result in the plan facing a legal ­challenge.

“Or worse, because we wouldn’t have an effective land supply, it would seriously undermine the committee’s ability to prevent ad hoc development in the green belt as any planning inquiry reporter would have no option but to grant applications on appeal.”