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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Location: West Edinburgh - 650 acre site between Hermiston to the east, Gogar to the north and Juniper Green to the south

Value: £917m

Developer: Murray Estates

Architects: DPZ (lead masterplanners), Michael Laird Architects, Barton Willmore, Gillespies (masterplanners for the Calyx), Merrill, Pastor & Colgan Architects

Official Site: Edinburgh's Garden District

Current Status: Proposed

Edinburgh’s Garden District is a visionary sustainable development for the expansion of the City. The plans for Scotland’s International Garden Showcase, the Calyx, are at the heart of the Garden District and set the context for the wider proposals. This, along with the proposed combination of recreational facilities, employment, family homes and transport infrastructure, will create a genuinely sustainable community.

The Masterplan for the 650 acre site to the West of Edinburgh has been shaped by the feedback received during the charrette process. It comprises the following principal elements:

The Calyx, also known as Scotland's National Garden, which will be a national/international visitor attraction and educational resource.

Three new villages based around business, the university and the Calyx.

3,500 mainly family homes, 25% of which will be defined as "affordable" by the Council.

A possible new regional stadium and a sports hub to encourage active participation in a range of sports.

Proximity to jobs and the City.

The retention and creation of green networks and woodlands.

The building of new schools and community facilities.

Enhanced usage of the Union Canal.

Design based upon the best Scottish traditions.

Homes within walking distance of facilities and public transport (5-10 minutes).

Provision for enhanced transport links e.g. the Orbital bus, walking and cycling routes.

Promotional Film


Current site

THE CALYX - a National Garden for Scotland

Masterplan (looking a lot more modest than some of the previous visuals where it seemed to feature vast Eden Project-style glasshouses - see top)

The Calyx is a project which the people of Edinburgh, and indeed Scotland, will be proud of.

The brainchild of Beechgrove Gardens' Jim McColl, the Calyx will be a facility of international profile - a visitor attraction, a community facility, a showcase of horticultural expertise, an environmentally friendly centre and so much more...

With international themed gardens, education facilities and experimental horticulture, it will be a must-see experience in its own right - a living landmark in the Capital.

In its role as Scotland's International Garden Showcase, the Calyx will be a facility without equal. The garden will delight visitors with its dramatic themed landscapes, boasting show gardens, water gardens, wildlife gardens and sensory gardens.

Focussed around Britain's most popular hobby gardening, the Calyx will promote a healthy lifestyle and learning and education will be at its heart. Scotland's International Garden Showcase will allow visitors young and old to experience gardening first-hand.

With facilities ranging from community allotments to top end research gardens, the Calyx will be at once a catalyst for higher levels of investment and employment and a community resource for the whole country.

In keeping with the rest of Edinburgh's Garden District, the Calyx will be an environmentally friendly attraction. A themed transport system using electric or gas powered vehicles will link the site to the public transport hub at Hermiston. This will provide a sustainable means of access for some of the half million visitors a year anticipated to come to this unique attraction each year.
The Calyx was originally a £30m project for Perth but the scheme collapsed in 2008. Gillespies won the RIAS-organised competition for the scheme in 2004, beating Snøhetta, Benson & Forsyth, and Ushida Findlay. Nicoll Russell Studio would have designed the visitor centre.

In its resurrected Edinburgh form, Gillespies are still attached as landscape designers but the visitor centre seems to be being developed by US practice, Merrill, Pastor & Colgan.

Images from their website.

Calyx Visitor Centre

Calyx farmer's market and restaurant

Calyx Visitor Centre, Market, Hotel and Conference Centre


Looking north across the Calyx and the Union Canal to the Calyx Village

Approximately 600 homes

Allotment gardens for local communities, existing and new

Edinburgh's Garden District has been conceived with sustainability at its core.

A green development that aims to have a zero carbon impact, Edinburgh's Garden District will boast eco homes and utilise the latest sustainable technologies.

Green technologies that will be ideally used are...

Biomass Heating
Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
Photovoltaic Panels
Solar Water Heating
Wind Turbines
Rainwater harvesting
Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS)
Anaerobic digestion

Edinburgh's Garden District masterplan boasts a large amount of woodland and green space. These areas will create an attractive, healthy and functioning environment for those who use them. Critically, no existing trees will be removed and have been accommodated in the post charrette Edinburgh Garden District masterplan. The plan exhibits best practice in environmental planning:

New and existing woodlands will provide visual and recreational opportunities and shelter to improve the local microclimate and reduce thermal loss from buildings

A range of native landscape types (woodlands, meadows, hedgerows) will encourage ecological diversity

Green networks linking woodlands and open spaces will promote wildlife corridors
Linked networks of footpaths, cycleways and equestrian routes will promote healthier living

Biomass woodlands could supply local and district heating systems

SUDS ponds/swales/natural drainage systems will promote biodiversity and prevent flooding

Recycling centres will promote a more sustainable approach to waste materials


Potential to accommodate more intensive use as a boatway/cycleway/walkway

Can be integrated with new development and the Calyx to create a very attractive environment focused on sustainable modes of travel


Looking east across the Business Village to the City Bypass and Edinburgh Park

Approximately 1,500 homes

Easy pedestrian and cycle access to Edinburgh Park, International Business Gateway, Royal Bank of Scotland and the Gyle via A720 Underpass

Protects setting of the Designed Landscape to the west


Stadium Concept by Michael Laird Architects

Stadium and Sports Village concept by DTZ, looking east across City Bypass to Sighthill

A relocation opportunity for Edinburgh’s major sports teams

The stadium would be developed as an integral part of nearby residential and mixed-use developments

If the stadium is not required, then the area could be developed for alternative uses

Indoor sports facilities for events and clubs
This 25,000-seat stadium proposal has had a lot of press over recent years, mooted as a possible home for Edinburgh Rugby, Hearts FC or a shared facility for both.


Approximately 1,400 homes

Close to Heriot-Watt University allowing students and staff to live close by

Heriot-Watt short-listed to host National Centre - National Performance Centre for Sport


Edinburgh's Garden District is one of the most accessible parts of the City and seeks to integrate land use and transportation. The site has clear attributes in terms of transportation linkages including proximity to the airport, railways, bus routes, park and ride, strategic roads, the Edinburgh Tram and Union Canal. The post charrette masterplan has made the most of these features.

The planned orbital bus route and developing tram network will help provide a sustainable extension to the City and beyond, and link with existing transport infrastructure.

Pedestrians and cyclists will have priority over the car on residential streets. The green network of paths and cycleways will provide safe and inviting routes between communities and facilities.

The concept of a north/south public transport link running through the district will mean that new residents and visitors will have the opportunity to travel easily within and beyond the locality. It is the intention to provide for public transport access within around a 5 to 10 minute walk of all who live in and visit the district, ensuring the Edinburgh Garden District is truly sustainable.

The public transport spine will also link the transport hubs at Hermiston and Gogar and will support a highly permeable network of streets and pedestrian/cycle routes.

Cars will be directed to existing major transport routes and will access the northern and southern halves independently, ensuring that pressure on roads is kept to a minimum.

The Edinburgh Garden District masterplan embraces the principles of a policy document called 'Designing Streets' and the pedestrian and cyclist will have priority over the car.

The Garden District plan has had a lot of critics since it was unveiled in 2010, mainly concerned about the development of greenbelt land, and the City Council seem distinctly cool about the proposal but it refuses to go away. It remains to be seen what the selection of Riccarton as the site of the National Performance Centre for Sport will have on the proposal and the council's position but I would imagine it will only strengthen Murray's resolve.

One of the more recent press items:

‘Garden district’ plan on Edinburgh greenbelt

The Scotsman - 21st June, 2013

A masterplan has been launched to show how greenbelt land owned by Sir David Murray would be transformed into a £1 billion “garden district”.

Expert planners have spent three years drawing up the designs – which include 3500 family homes, university and business villages and a Scottish national garden, which would be built beyond the bypass in west Edinburgh.

The new commuter hub would be the jewel in the crown of the former Rangers owner.

Murray Estates, which controls more than 675 acres of land to the west of the city, wants to develop the urban district to incorporate a new high school, three primary schools and other local amenities.

The 60-acre garden complex, dubbed the Calyx, would boast themed green areas, water features and research facilities as part of a £25 million concept.

A sports hub could become a new home for Edinburgh Rugby under the plans.

The business village would see 1500 homes built in walking distance of Edinburgh Park and the International Business Gateway in the hope of attracting staff and their families to live there, lifting pressure on the city’s transport network.

Similarly, the university village with 1400 properties is so-called because of its close proximity to Heriot Watt.

Developers say the proposals, close to the RBS headquarters at Gogarburn and the Gyle shopping centre, would create 900 jobs.

Jestyn Davies, managing director of Murray Estates, said the latest designs had been the direct result of extensive public consultation.

“We asked the public what they wanted and this is what they came back with,” he said. “The proposals are the culmination of many years’ careful planning, ensuring they blend perfectly as a natural extension to the west of Edinburgh, providing quality family housing, sporting and leisure facilities and through the Calyx, a new world-class tourist attraction and National Garden for Scotland.”

The property giants believe the new homes – a quarter of which would be affordable housing – would help to alleviate the shortage in the city. Scottish Government directives mean the council must build 71,000 new homes by 2033.

Mr Davies argued the development of an urban centre was a more efficient way of creating the homes than adding “100 here and 100 there” and development of greenbelt land was now a necessity, as demonstrated on the council’s most recent Local Development Plan.

He said: “I do not envy the dilemma faced by councillors, however everybody now accepts that the debate is about which parts of greenbelt should accommodate new housing, not whether greenbelt should be designated for housing.”

Brochures detailing the proposals have been sent to every councillor in the south east of Scotland. If planning permission is granted, the project is expected to take between 15 and 20 years to complete.

3,654 Posts
New Hampden to go with the National Team's training base? :troll:

3,190 Posts
Such a move would be pretty controversial. Makes sense, but most people consider Glasgow the home of Scottish football.

I think we're beginning to see Edinburgh expand out eastwards. I can definitely see it as one of the few cities to experience rapid growth in the near future, especially in the event of independence. I really look forward to see whats in store for Edinburgh over the next few decades.

2,306 Posts
That is an extremely large area of green belt to develop on ?. Not so keen on the fact how close the housing complex gets too RBS HQ. Doubt the current proposal will get passed planning permission the first time, it will have to be down scaled !. I do like the stadium, does Edinburgh need another business park, right next door to one already built ?.

11,805 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
That is an extremely large area of green belt to develop on ?. Not so keen on the fact how close the housing complex gets too RBS HQ. Doubt the current proposal will get passed planning permission the first time, it will have to be down scaled !. I do like the stadium, does Edinburgh need another business park, right next door to one already built ?.
It is a lot of greenbelt - 650 acres of it in fact! That, plus the proposal not matching the current council aspirations, mean it's unlikely to be realised, at least in its current form. However, the National Performance Centre for Sport announcement might be an impetus for the University Village and sport-related elements and Edinburgh Rugby does need a new home, if not here then somewhere in the city. Anyway, it'll be interesting to see if the council's position changes.

I don't think any of the plan is intended as a business park. Looking at the recent masterplan, aside from the Calyx and leisure elements, two schools and some local retail, the majority of the development is entirely residential.

11,805 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
David Murray firm: City must build on greenbelt

Edinburgh Evening News - 19th September, 2013

Property giants Murray Estates today insisted that Edinburgh simply cannot build the new homes that it needs unless it agrees to major development on the greenbelt.

The company, owned by Sir David Murray, wants to create a £1 billion Garden District development on land to the west of the city.

Three thousand five hundred homes, a new high school, three primaries and a national garden attraction would be developed under the company’s plans for land beyond the bypass.

Jestyn Davies, managing director of *Murray Estates, said he was convinced the project was essential to any hopes Edinburgh has of delivering its share of the 107,500 new homes which the Scottish Government believes are needed in South-East Scotland.

“This is a formidable task, and it is my belief that without the inclusion of the proposals for Edinburgh’s Garden District, Edinburgh will fail to meet its share, especially when sites for 9000 homes that were planned for north Edinburgh are no longer available,” he said.

The alternative is no easing in the housing crisis, he added, which has seen the price of the average home in the Capital remain at £212,000.

The warning comes ahead of a crunch meeting between Edinburgh and neighbouring local authorities which will decide how the allocation of land needed for building new home will be shared out across the region.Environmental campaingers are fighting to protect the greenbelt from what they say in total will amount to an “astonishing” level of development.

In recent years, much of the new land for development has been provided in the Lothians and Fife, but there is expected to be greater resistance to any such moves now as a result of the amount of building that has already taken place in communities surrounding Edinburgh.

Murray Estates controls 675 acres of land to the west of the Capital and has created a development blueprint following three years of discussions with local communities and other interested parties. It includesa 60-acre garden complex, named the Calyx, which would boast themed green areas, water features and research facilities as part of a £25 million concept.

The proposed development also includes a business village which would see 1500 homes built in walking distance of Edinburgh Park and the International Business Gateway in the hope of attracting staff and their families to live there.

Another major development would create 1400 properties close to Heriot Watt.

Mr Davies added: “Allocating new sites for *development is always tough, but simple arithmetic shows that Edinburgh simply cannot find the sites for all of these extra homes without our proposals for the Garden District.

“And even if the city does try to, it will be taking decisions that could seriously impact upon Edinburgh’s traditional suburban ‘village’ communities.”

“I challenge anyone to set out how else Edinburgh’s housing needs can be met without sacrificing the special qualities of our existing urban village communities,” he added.

The plans have attracted widespread objections from residents concerned at the impact on the area.

Meeting to decide greenbelt future

The fate of the city’s green belt is to be sealed at a crunch summit to map the shape of house-building in the *region for years to come, the Evening News can reveal.

A total of 107,500 new homes need to be built across south-east Scotland by 2024 to meet growing demand, according to the Scottish Government, a target which will fuel an enormous surge in new home building.

Delegations from six local authorities – including Edinburgh – will meet at the end of the month to thrash out a regional plan for where new homes should be built.

And, amid a chronic housing shortage which has seen thousands of families priced out of the Capital, Edinburgh is expected to shoulder a significant proportion of the new properties, especially given that neighbouring areas have largely borne the brunt of housebuilding in recent years. With development space at a premium in thecity, following the collapse of so many projects on the Waterfront, developers are increasingly turning their attention to green space on the fringes of the Capital.

Among them is Murray Estates, the property firm of former Rangers owner Sir David Murray, which wants to build a £1 billion Garden District development on green belt land beyond the City Bypass in west Edinburgh. TThe Scottish Building Federation says construction has slumped in Edinburgh from more than 1900 properties in 2007 to 1097 last year and warned 6000 more homes must be built each year to meet demand.

That means the council delegations involved in the Strategic Planning Authority for Edinburgh and South East Scotland (SESplan) summit to be held in Livingston on September 30 clearly have some difficult choices.

For Edinburgh, the biggest decision is whether to give the go-ahead for large scale building on the greenbelt or to opt instead for more piecemeal development across the city which is likely to prove unpopular with the local communities affected.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, branded the scale of the “astonishing SESplan proposal “a charter for unparalleled growth that puts quantity ahead of quality”. She said: “Left unchallenged, tens of thousands of these new homes will be in Edinburgh, threatening green field sites within the city, over-running the green belt and swamping some of the settlements which lie within travelling distance of the Capital.

“The city region does need more homes but targeted at lower price ranges, using brownfield and derelict sites and bringing back into use our many empty homes.

“New building needs to be compact to make services like shops, health centres and public transport accessible and we need to start planning homes around communities, not car parking.”

Green belt campaigners believe planners have failed to strike the right balance between preserving green spaces for leisure, enjoyment and recreation with the demands of development and growth. A spokesman for the Edinburgh and Lothian Greenbelt Network pressure group said what’s lost will not come back.

He said: “Priority is given to development and the local authority has to abide by this. The directive comes from Scottish Government who sees growth as one way out of austerity. But the consequence is the continued loss of Edinburgh’s green belt and the amenities for communities.

“I don’t know quite how you resist this other than continually saying communities are concerned about the loss of this important amenity.

“The dilemma is that the edge of the city, where it adjoins the green belt, is the most accessible for the citizens to go and walk, enjoy healthy air and exercise, but at the same time this green field area is the easiest and cheapest to develop.”

Vaughan Hart, managing director of Scottish Building Federation, urged council planning departments to accelerate housebuilding.

Economists agree with him and it is clear – as the green shoots of recovery continue to grow – increasing numbers of developers will take the plunge and start work on new estates. Already a large number of medium sized developments are under way in Edinburgh.

Just last week, Barratt East Scotland announced plans to build 442 new homes throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians. The builder has started work on 180 new homes at Inchross Grange in Bathgate, 122 homes at The Kilns, Burdiehouse, and in Esbank 140 new homes will be built.

Other plans could be expected to actually *impinge on green belt land include a controversial plan at Maybury, which would see 1400 homes erected.

Mr Hart said: “It’s clear from the latest official statistics that we’re still not building enough homes to meet demand. The performance of local authorities in approving major planning applications also leaves much to be desired. Edinburgh council performs better than many.

“However, the figures still show it takes an average of more than six weeks beyond the recommended four-month period to determine major planning applications.”

He added: “In short, we need to see improved efficiency and greater flexibility in planning policy if we are going to address the major housing crisis we are confronted with.” 
The Scottish Government spokesman said once a deal is thrashed out, local authorities will reveal the details to the public in local development plans.

The spokesman said: “Following the minister’s approval of SESplan in June 2013, the authorities are working together to prepare supplementary planning guidance to determine the distribution of the required housing land across the six planning authorities within the SESplan area.

“A meeting of the SESplan Joint Committee is to be held on September 30 to discuss the draft guidance.

“Once the distribution is agreed, the precise location of the land to be released will subsequently be determined by the individual authorities through their local development plans.

Bill Lindsay, enterprise, planning and *protection service *manager for SESplan, said: “The joint committee will be asked to approve supplementary guidance on housing land but it won’t specify where that will be.

“That’s a matter for each of the individual local planning authorities. Supplementary guidance then has to be ratified by each of the SESplan constituency councils before going out to consultation.”

2,749 Posts
David Murray saying we should build on something green, what a surprise. not content on destroying scottish football but the countryside too.

how do they even have the money for something like this?

is it just a lot of hot air from him as usual?

11,805 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
David Murray saying we should build on something green, what a surprise. not content on destroying scottish football but the countryside too.

how do they even have the money for something like this?

is it just a lot of hot air from him as usual?
He owns most (all?) of the land in question. Can't speak to any financial backing but it seems to be a pretty serious proposal that's been in development for a couple of years.

11,805 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
I don't think it's a great idea, telling Edinburgh planning department what to do, a bit of an insult ?.
CEC have been cold on Murray's plans from the outset so I don't think there's much love lost there.

The big question is just where will the city's targeted number of new homes be built. The 9000 home shortfall referred to in the above article concerns Forth Ports' plans for Leith, where land previously intended for 15,000 new homes is now largely reserved for renewable energy industry manufacturing and maintenance. As far as I'm aware, the council has yet to suggest an alternative site or sites.

11,805 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Pressure on green belt as 10,000 homes to be built

Edinburgh Evening News - 25th September, 2013

The bulk of extra housing needed for Scotland’s south-east is set to be built within the Edinburgh district boundary under a deal struck with neighbouring authorities, putting the Capital’s green belt under greater pressure.

It is understood the Capital will have to find space for as many as 5000 of more than 10,000 extra homes needed to meet the Scottish Government’s building targets set for 2024.

The number is needed to meet the gap between original estimates and the new target of 107,500 new homes for the region which the Government now says will be needed to meet growing demand.

The remainder of the extra homes needed in the next decade are expected to be met by Midlothian and Fife councils.

The proposed deal is to be put to Monday’s meeting of the Strategic Planning Authority for Edinburgh and South East Scotland (SESplan) at which the allocation of house building targets for each local authority will be finalised.

The announcement is a serious warning for those opposed to the development of swathes of countryside surrounding the Capital.

Edinburgh City Council revealed a blueprint earlier this year showing up to 2000 homes would be built in the next ten years by reclassifying green belt land at Maybury and Cammo in the city’s

Property firm Murray Estates has said the Government’s new homes goal cannot be achieved without an agreement for major development on the green belt.

Company owner Sir David Murray has aspirations of creating a garden district development worth up to £1 billion on land west of the city.

Jestyn Davies, managing director of Murray Estates, said last week of the Government’s ambitious targets: “This is a formidable task, and it is my belief that without the inclusion of the proposals for
 Edinburgh’s Garden District, Edinburgh will fail to meet its share.”

Edinburgh Western MSP Colin Keir is strongly opposed to potential housing developments at Maybury and Cammo – just east of Edinburgh Airport.

He intends to write to Edinburgh council urging it to investigate building on brownfield sites at all costs and to review transport connections into the city.

Mr Keir claimed congested roads in the western suburbs could not cope with any more traffic, citing the Maybury and Barnton intersections as two junctions that were already at breaking point.

“There are already huge pressures on the western side of the city,” he said. “You’ve got an airport, you’ve got an expanding housing market in the likes of West Lothian, you have proposals there to put thousands of houses on the western periphery, but how do people get in and out?”

Mr Keir said he wanted extra homes to instead be built near Edinburgh Park, which he described as one of Scotland’s most under-used stations.

Murray Estates is proposing to build a business village that would include 1500 homes located within walking distance of Edinburgh Park.

11,805 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Green belt development ‘just like New Town’

Edinburgh Evening News - 29th November, 2013

A vision of a £1 billion “garden district” on green belt land has been compared with Edinburgh’s historic New Town as city planners were urged to have the same “courage” to approve the bold move.

Plans to create about 3500 homes in west Edinburgh around Hermiston village moved a step closer yesterday with the first paperwork submitted to the city council by developer Murray Estates.

It features a 50-acre garden complex known as the Calyx which would be part of the housing district and boast themed green areas, water features and research facilities.

A new business village would include 1500 homes and be built within walking distance of Edinburgh Park.

New schools, a conference centre, hotel and a sports hub are also part of the company’s masterplan.

Jestyn Davies, managing director of Murray Estates, said city planners needed to adopt the same bravery that paved the way for the New Town.

Overcrowding inside the Old Town city walls led to the decision to create the New Town, which was built in stages between 1765 and around 1850 and is now a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Mr Davies said: “The time has come for planners in Edinburgh to have the same courage and vision that was shown when Lord Provost George Drummond succeeded in extending the city to take in the land upon which Edinburgh’s first New Town was built. Just like then, Edinburgh is struggling to meet the needs of its people, and ordinary working families increasingly look beyond the city boundaries for homes they can afford.

“To simply cram all of Edinburgh’s housing needs into land beside existing communities like Currie, Balerno, Ratho and Kirkliston would be sheer folly. These communities can’t be expected to take it all.”

However, Cockburn Association director Marion Williams labelled comparisons between the proposed garden district and the New Town as “absurd”.

She said: “The time has come for Mr Murray and his friends to cash in given the politics of building your way out of a recession. We will be fighting for the green belt with our lives. It has been eroded and it’s now under more threat than its ever been.”

Some campaigners view the garden district as the “better” of two evils when it comes to housing development, with the council needing to find space for an extra 8000 homes by 2024.

But Pentland Hills ward councillor Bill Henderson said the local road network would not be able to cope with thousands of new homes.

Public exhibitions on the district plans will be held at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Park, South Gyle and Wester Hailes in January.

11,805 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
13/04911/PAN | Residential development, horticultural visitor and education centre (the Calyx), new schools, community facilities, local retail facilities, local Class 2 and Class 3, Class 4, Class 10, Class 11, conference centre, hotel, a sports stadium/arena, sporting facilities, construction training centre, sustainable energy centre, green network, transport links, canal related uses and infrastructure. | Land 1000 Metres NW SW And West Of Hermiston Junction M8t, Edinburgh

Only a proposal of application notice so not much to see apart from a location plan and details of the public consultation.

Public Exhibitions

Heriot Watt University
Tuesday 14th January (2pm – 8pm)

Novotel, Edinburgh Park
Wednesday 15th January (2pm – 8pm)

The Gyle Shopping Centre
Wednesday 29th January (2pm – 8pm)

Wester Hailes Education Centre
Thursday 30th January (2pm – 8pm)

11,805 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Malcolm Fraser: Assault on green belt must be resisted

The Scotsman - 6th December, 2013

There is no excuse for devouring fields when brownfield sites provide space for family homes in the city, writes Malcolm Fraser

Prepare yourselves planners, councillors and the people of Edinburgh in general, for the (David) Murray Estates “Garden District” public relations onslaught is about to turn the volume up to 11.

The first stages of an eventual planning application for a massive total of 3,500 homes, and businesses and parks – with community and sustainability heavily featured in the nice pictures you will soon see regularly in these pages, have been submitted to the council.

The nice pictures are full of allotment sheds, wind turbines and happy children and even, sometimes, houses. Whether the nice pictures or the greater vision is deliverable, is another matter. Visions of butterflies and windmills tend to get sunk by dreary economics and turn out to be Trojan horses for the usual car-dependent suburbs with business and retail parks scattered about.

If Murray Estates delivers what it advertises, it will be the first. But the optimist in me does admit that the happy family environment of the vision is grand. I’d love it to be for one of Edinburgh’s large brownfield sites, already cleared, with local schools, shops and parks desperate for the new life it would bring. It might be Craigmillar, or one of the many areas of dereliction strung from east to west across Edinburgh’s waterfront.

But, of course, it isn’t. For this is a green belt buster – and the onslaught we are about to experience is intended to make us so enamoured of the vision that we don’t notice that it is simply in the wrong place.

Developers find building in our Craigmillars or Waterfronts a bit of a challenge. The costs are greater and the surrounding communities not the sort of address it is easiest to market. Their costs are lower on farmland – but the long-term costs to the public purse much greater, with our taxes carrying the greater infrastructure costs of car growth, bus and bin lorry routes and schools needed, while also carrying the price of social decline in our city sites, closing down schools and financing regeneration initiatives.

In support of its application, Murray Estates points out that the south-east of Scotland “requires” 107,500 new homes in the next 25 years, so we’d be as well to give-up the green belt now.

Its masterplanner, celebrity American “urbanist” Andrés Duany, tells us that we must build on the green belt because “you can’t build family homes in the city”.

The first argument is desperately-flawed, the figure plucked out the air and needing an enormous new property bubble to fund it. There may be a theoretical “need” for 107,500 new homes but I will be very surprised if there is the ready finance of the Gordon Brown Boom, to sustain their mortgages. Without such finance we are going to have to find new ways of living together, with generations sharing, and more intensive use of our town and city centres. And if I’m wrong: well the answer is still to build on our brownfield sites first, and get to the green belt if and when it’s needed in, say, 2025.

The second argument – that family homes cannot be built in the city – is deeply disturbing and divisive, representing an American attitude that sees the city cleansed of the lifeblood of families, fit only for Sex and the City sophisticates, or a poor or immigrant urban underclass. But we are Scottish and, I believe, most of us still share a view of our towns and cities as places for the whole community, where all ages mix.

Sadly, that’s a vision that our house-building industry doesn’t deliver. It has succumbed to the same contemporary American city-suburb division, building towering dockside flats with stuck-on balconies for beautiful young bankers to sook G&Ts on, or suburban boxes with teeny wee gardens for when they get kids.

They haven’t noticed that families, too, like to live in the city – walk to work or school, play in its parks and visit the wealth of the town. They haven’t imagined that there may be models that deliver both the density the town requires and the amenity – the gardens and sunny community spaces – that a modern family might seek.

To its great credit, the city council is leading the way here, its 21st Century Homes initiative asking for answers to those questions. My practice is building, at Leith Fort, for the council and the Port of Leith Housing Association, a contemporary version of the classic Victorian colonies – a ground floor flat with a maisonette above, each with its own garden and with a wee village green at its heart. The colonies were originally constructed by workers’ Co-ops and remain a great model for family living – as dense as tenements but with a garden for everybody, an exemplar of what family homes in the city could be.

We need our house-building industry to follow such leads. And we need our entrepreneurs to not commit their great resources into persuading our local authorities to rip up the policies that protect our dense, walkable, liveable places. Would that David Murray turn his money, initiatives and the undoubted talents of his huge team to our languishing but full-of-potential brownfield sites. Until then, the city should hold its nerve, apply the polices it has so painstakingly drawn up to protect the city, and send the “garden district” packing.

• Malcolm Fraser is head of Malcolm Fraser Architects

728 Posts
The whole thing comes over as a grubby attempt by David Murray to drive a coach and horses through what is left of the green belt to prop up his ailing company.

His mismanagement of Rangers, by itself, should ensure his is kept as far away as possible from any developments in Edinburgh.

11,805 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
£1bn Garden District plans for West Edinburgh

Edinburgh Evening News - 14th January, 2014

Plans for a £1 billion “Garden District” have gone on show for the first time as a major public consultation gets under way.

About 3500 homes would be built on green-belt land beyond the City Bypass to the west of the Capital in the blueprint drawn up by Sir David Murray’s development firm.

It features a 60-acre National Garden – known as the Calyx – which will include water features and research facilities near 600 new homes.

Another 1500 homes would be built within walking distance of Edinburgh Park and 1400 as part of a University Village near Heriot-Watt.

An exhibition showing off the district opens today at Heriot-Watt University before moving on to Edinburgh Park, Ratho, the Gyle shopping centre and Wester Hailes.

Representatives from Murray Estates have attended community council meetings to chat to residents about the proposals, which include new schools, a conference centre, hotel and a sports hub – if a separate company is prepared to build a sports *stadium.

Managing director Jestyn Davies said the development would go some way towards alleviating the housing shortage in the Capital, with an estimated 48,000 houses needing to be built in the next decade.

He said: “The start of this public consultation period is an important stage in bringing forward the proposals for the Garden District.

“The time has come for a serious debate on the future of Edinburgh’s growth, with the Garden District providing a unique way to create new and sustainable communities, whilst taking significant pressure off existing communities as Edinburgh seeks to meet its significant housing shortage.

“These consultation dates give members of the public and interested parties the perfect opportunity to learn more about what is proposed.”

But Pentland Hills ward councillor Bill Henderson, pictured, believes the developers will face significant opposition from residents.

He said the road network would not be able to cope with increased traffic from thousands of new homes as well as tourists to the planned Scotland’s National Garden.

He added: “I think there will be a lot of opposition to it, as there is for any green-belt development, but this planned development is massive.

“The City Bypass acts as a boundary for the green belt and once you step over it, the boundary is breached.

“It is going to have a adverse effect on traffic. We have massive house-building in West Lothian coming in towards Edinburgh. Even if people use public transport, there will still be an increase in traffic, even if it’s extra buses.

“On top of that, they are talking about having Scotland’s National Garden there, which would bring thousands of tourists. I’m not saying it’s all bad but the proposals do raise a lot of questions.”

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My inner cynic suspects that if this ever sees the light of day, it'll end up being a series of generic Barratt style suburban housing estates, with a few token community facilities, an office park and bugger all public transport.
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