I was elected four years ago on a pledge to work with the community to protect our greenbelt, parks and greenspaces from developers seeking to make a quick profit, and I am happy to report that so far I have succeeded in my Ward, and I’m proud of how the people I represent have taken a stand. The future is now looks even brighter.
The Council has now published its 1,400 page draft City Plan 2030 document (download link at the bottom of this blog). This document maps out how the city will develop over the next decade or so. A key driver is ensuring enough land is set aside for 36,911 new homes which are estimated to be needed, and that Edinburgh has sufficient schools, GPs, transport infrastructure etc to cope with them.
I can’t pretend to have read all 555,582 words yet, but I think the report does look broadly positive for my Ward:
- After years of campaigning by communities in my Ward, City Plan 2030 offers none of the Greenbelt here for development. The same is the case for all of south Edinburgh.
- The biggest development area in the whole of Southwest Edinburgh is Redford Barracks. I’m pleased to see that community feedback has been taken onboard in shaping the outline proposals for this site (more detail below), and there will be opportunities for local people to have more say.
- It has taken a lot of arguing, but the Council now accepts that it can meet its housing supply targets without allocating any further greenspace for development. HOWEVER, Greenbelt allocated in the previous plan will not be removed – especially in Northwest Edinburgh.
- The strategy of protecting the Greenbelt by using the tram extension to open up brownfield sites in north Edinburgh is now delivering results.
Looking at the wider city, these are the three key points I noted.
- Where sites are developed, the Council will take an “infrastructure first” approach – directing new development to where there is existing infrastructure. Where required to support new development, City Plan 2030 requires new and expanded community infrastructure including schools, healthcare, sustainable transport, energy, and waste to support these new communities.
- For new developments, the 20% “affordable” target has been scrapped – Edinburgh will demand 35%. I’m disappointed that this will not apply to Student Accommodation.
- All new buildings will use low and zero-carbon generating technologies to be net zero and to address climate adaptation, and the aim will be to move towards 20-minute walkable neighbourhoods. The noted intention is to ensure that new housing development is directed to where residents can access a range of key services within walking distance when this is practicable and reasonable. Developers will be expected to demonstrate their proposal’s walkability to key services as part of their submission.
Listed below are some of the key impacts for people in my Ward.
The Council is assuming that the UK Government will proceed with its plans to close Redford Barracks. Its CityPlan2030 document maps out how the city will develop over the next 20 years, and it suggests the Redford Barrack could be redeveloped as a:
“housing-led mixed–use development which draws the surrounding communities together, through the provision of new connections, open spaces and other community infrastructure” and this will draw “the surrounding communities together through the provision of new connections, open spaces and other community infrastructure”.
It is expected that there will be appropriate frontages to Colinton Road, Oxgangs Road North and the rear. The existing parade grounds should be kept free from development, and any new development around them must provide active frontages onto these spaces. The security fence will be removed.
It is estimated that the site could accommodate as many as 800 new homes. The redevelopment will respect the history and layout of the site, and it is hoped the War Memorial can be retained (if not, it will be moved). Indeed, it is noted that the site’s military history must be interpreted within the new development.
The report notes that there is flood risk on the site which needs to be better understood.
All homes on the site will be adequately served with play facilities, and the recreation area to the southeast will be retained and will form a new community park.
I’m glad that the Council agreed that this scale of development will necessitate improvements to the bus provision serving Colinton (the focus is the 400), and that GP services will also require expansion. The potential for active travel routes between the redevelopment site with schools, Water of Leith etc.
The site will also have a “Mobility Hub” this is an accessible place which brings together different transport modes alongside associated facilities, services and information to encourage more sustainable travel. These can include a range of shared mobility services, click and collect, electric vehicle charging, etc.
The developer will also fund investment in Firrhill HS and Colinton PS. It is estimated that Colinton PS will require 6 classrooms and a dining/assembly hall extension. For Firrhill HS, a site of around 2.3ha is required for expansion. It is also recognised that additional pre-school provision will be needed.
The public will also have a say on individual applications over the next decade, and I will ensure the voices of local people are heard.
When I was elected in 2017 I was sure we’d have seen more clarity on the future of the barracks by now, but today I am less than certain that we will see substantial progress before 2030!
There is no mention in the report other than confirming the Swanston and Winton conservation areas. Buckstone Shops are noted as being a “Local Centre”. St Peter’s, Buckstone and Pentland Primary Schools are noted as needing no additional capacity up to 2030.
Oxgangs is noted as benefitting from the potential redevelopment of Redford Barracks. Oxgangs Broadway is designated as a Local Centre. St Mark’s and Oxgangs Primary Schools are noted as needing no additional capacity up to 2030, but Firrhill High School is flagged as needing room for expansion due to the Redford Barracks redevelopment. Braidburn School is not mentioned in the report.
Colinton Village is noted as being a Local Centre and the conservation area designation is noted. The potential to establish South Gyle-Pentlands-Swanston-Portobello cycle route is highlited (this looks like an extension to the planned Portobello-Pentlands active travel route). Colinton Primary School is explained as needing room for expansion due to the Redford Barracks redevelopment, and Bonaly Primary School is noted has having no capacity issues.
Boroughmuir HS, St Thomas of Aquin’s RC HS & St Augustine’s RC HS.
There is already significant pressure on the capacity of Boroughmuir HS, and development withing the catchment will result in an estimated further 46 pupils. An extension to increase the capacity of Boroughmuir High School to 1,560 pupils is currently under construction – the demand by 2030 is estimated as 1,705. Beyond this, the school cannot be extended further on its existing site (they built it in the wrong place!). The report notes – “To accommodate all pupils forecast from population growth and pupil generation from new development it will be necessary to engage with the school community to consider the options available, including catchment change.”. I write about this issue here – the blog is now a little dated, but the issues at play have not changed.
For St Thomas of Aquin’s RC High School, the report suggests suggests that it will have only limited capacity to provide places for RC pupils generated by new housing developments. Accordingly, contributions of £5,313,509 are sought for the 101 pupils estimated to be generated by new developments.
For St Augustine’s RC High School, contributions of £18,465,759 are sought for the 351 pupils estimated to be generated by new developments.