£1bn Garden District plan for Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Garden district. Picture: Ian RutherfordThe Edinburgh Garden district. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The Edinburgh Garden district. Picture: Ian Rutherford
SIR David Murray’s £1bn “Garden District” plans are set to be reignited as councillors bid to solve Edinburgh’s housing crisis.

With just days until the city’s key Local Development Plan (LDP) blueprint is due to be approved, talks are being held over sparing Brunstane, Newmills and Cammo from getting hundreds of new homes.

Instead, planners are expected to perform a U-turn on Sir David Murray’s proposed “Garden District” – which was left off the LDP when it was drawn up last year – as a solution to the Capital’s housing crisis.

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The Evening News understands that the city’s Labour and SNP coalition partners on the planning committee are in talks to lodge a joint motion that would see much-needed homes built on land between the A8 and M8 near Gogar.

Under Sir David’s £1 billion plans for the site, at least 3500 homes would be built – more than ten per cent of the 32,000 homes required in Edinburgh over the next decade.

That means it would be able to absorb all of the 1700 homes proposed for Brunstane under the city’s LDP, 210 for Newmills and 670 lined up for Cammo.

A senior council source said: “The Garden District site would be used to relieve pressure elsewhere in the city.”

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The Cammo situation is complicated, however, as plans to build there are already in the hands of the Scottish Government’s Communities Minister Alex Neil after an appeal by developers.

Councillors are now holding crunch talks on the Garden District ahead of Thursday’s planning committee meeting, at which the LDP was expected to be approved.

However, last-minute changes mean it would have to be put out to consultation again.

Campaigners fighting development at Brunstane welcomed the news that the area could be removed from blueprints.

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Resident Martin Kelly, who will part of a deputation making its case directly to councillors at Thursday’s meeting, said: “It’s encouraging that councillors appear to be taking on board our arguments that the Brunstane site isn’t suitable for housing development.

“We will be appearing before the committee to reiterate those arguments, in person, and to explain to members why the loss of greenbelt and increased traffic congestion that would be caused by building houses on the fields justifies the removal of Brunstane from the Local Plan.

“We hope that they listen and protect Brunstane from what would be a damaging development.”

Council leader Andrew Burns has promised previously that the LDP will be passed on Thursday.

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And one councillor for the west of the city said the administration would have serious questions to answer if there was a fresh delay.

Liberal Democrat member for the Almond ward Alastair Shields said: “If the decision is not made on Thursday – and we’ve got the council leader saying ‘yes, it will be’ – then the whole administration should be held to account. It’s that significant.

“There needs to be a serious review of the handling of this matter, because the council is playing around with people’s quality of life.”

Plans which went on show for the Garden District last year also featured a 60-acre National Garden – known as the Calyx – which will include water features and research facilities.

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