A RUSH of house building could see up to 6000 homes built across just five square miles of Edinburgh, it emerged today, with the city council accused of losing control and creating a development “free for-all”.
A new map and research by the Evening News and the Save Our South East Wedge (SOSEW) campaign group shows the dramatic extent of proposed housebuilding in the south-east of the Capital for the first time.
It comes as Edinburgh’s controversial Local Development Plan (LDP) remains in limbo despite being signed off by councillors last year.
While the vital document is still waiting to be signed off by the Scottish Government, critics said the delay had led to a dangerous lack of vision and “planning by appeal”.
Reverend Cammy Mackenzie, vice chair of Gilmerton Inch community council and a member of the SOSEW campaign group, said the flurry of applications would leave local schools, facilities and roads in the south-east unable to cope with the strain.
He said: “There’s a verse in the Bible that says when there’s no vision the people perish – and there does not seem to be a vision.
It seems like the developers are leading the charge of the Light Brigade. The south-east of Edinburgh is being buried.Cammy Mackenzie
“They are firing [applications] in left, right and centre, it seems to us. Very few people have any idea what the place is going to look like when they get done.
“For us, it just seems like there’s nobody in charge of this. And it seems like the developers are leading the charge of the Light Brigade. The south-east of Edinburgh is being buried.”
Earlier this month, 61 houses on land south-east of Gilmerton Dykes Road were given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government following an appeal by the developer.
And last week, a major development of 633 homes at Broomhills was pushed through despite objections from local groups.
SOSEW say there are now 13 separate schemes being quietly taken forward by builders in the area – with seven already given the go-ahead.
Ian Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, said the council was delaying decisions on applications until after the LDP is approved, leaving developers open to appeal to the Scottish Government to get their plans pushed through.
He said: “Most of the sites in the area have either got planning permission or were granted on appeal.
“The council is in a catch-22 situation – they have a housing allocation and need to agree a plan to meet these numbers, but if they don’t have a plan it becomes a free-for-all.”
He said local people felt they had no say in what was happening, adding: “Everyone accepts Edinburgh needs more homes, but they don’t want to be locked out of a process which has such a major effect on where they live.”
And he insisted roads in the area were already congested, schools bursting and medical practices unable to recruit GPs.
He said: “P1 places in South Edinburgh are at a premium, all the primary schools are pretty much bursting at the seams and the high schools are getting close to capacity. Gracemount medical centre has had two GP vacancies for the past nine months which they cannot fill and local GP surgeries are closing their lists all the time.”
He argued Edinburgh’s LDP was drawn up in isolation, without considering what might be happening on neighbouring land in other council areas. “Midlothian could build thousands of homes on the edge of the boundary and Edinburgh doesn’t take into account the impact that will have on transport.”
The Scottish Government has said 32,000 new homes must be built in the city by 2024.
Councillor Ian Perry, convener of the city’s planning committee, said: “The council wants to finalise the LDP as soon as possible to give greater certainty to residents and developers across Edinburgh.
“In the meantime, we will continue to process applications in accordance with statutory requirements. Developers can submit planning applications at any time and the council cannot refuse to determine them because the LDP examination has not concluded.”