Approval for 1,350-home Edinburgh ‘Garden District’

Garden DistrictPlans for a 1,350-home development on green belt land on the edge of Edinburgh have been given the green light by councillors.

Developer Murray Estates’ proposal is for the first phase of a 675-acre ‘Garden District’ on a 54-hectare site next to Royal Bank of Scotland’s Edinburgh headquarters at Gogar Station Road.

The overall £1 billion development will eventually deliver up to 6,000 new homes over a 20-year cycle in a new urban district proposal which would include a school, shopping centre, sports facilities and green space.

A quarter of all the homes, including 375 properties in the first phase, will be affordable housing, with the remainder split between private homes and apartments.

Yesterday’s approval, which followed a five-and-a-half-hour planning meeting, came despite the project being recommended for refusal in a City of Edinburgh Council report after planners concluded that the proposals would be “significantly contrary” to the Local Development Plan (LDP) and would prejudice work on a replacement plan which is currently under examination.

Conditions attached to the decision to drive through the plans included more detailed analysis on flood prevention, traffic and public transport.

Phase one will go before the full council next month to be ratified, and then will be ­referred to the Scottish Government for final approval.

Councillors on the city’s planning committee stressed the masterplan was at an early stage and could be altered to improve remaining transport issues at a later date.

The LDP – the council’s city-wide housing blueprint – was signed off by councillors last year but is still being scrutinised by the Scottish Government’s planning reporter. It is expected to be rubber-stamped in the coming weeks.

Phase one of the Garden District was not included in the document, but a council motion made a recommendation in favour of it. City leaders now hope that by pushing the plans forward, they can reduce the pressure to build homes in more contentious areas.

Councillor Sandy Howat said it was time for the planning committee to take control of the city’s future, adding: “We need to build in the right places.”

He added: “To make the reporter see sense, to make the government ministers see sense, we need to give a very strong message.”

Councillor Joanna Mowat insisted the Garden District plans were “one of the most considered” applications ever to go before the committee, adding: “I have no hesitation in supporting this today.”

In the end, councillors gave their backing by ten votes to one with only Green councillor Steve Burgess voting against.

The plans were due to be considered by the council’s development management sub-committee last month, but were withdrawn from the agenda after Murray Estates made a complaint about the contents of the report.

The developer had submitted a complaint to the council’s monitoring officer claiming that there were “factual errors and inaccuracies” in the report and some parts of it “read like a work of fiction”.

Speaking after the meeting, Jestyn Davies, managing ­director of Murray Estates, said: “Obviously, we are ­delighted to have secured overwhelming support from the committee today.

“We believe that this will be a world class extension to the nation’s capital, and this will become one of the city’s most successful housing developments.

“We look forward to making the case for the proposals to all members of the council in due course.”

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