Edinburgh urged to adopt European style housing

Edinburgh could become more European in style. Picture: TSPL

Edinburgh could become more European in style. Picture: TSPL

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DEVELOPERS in the Scottish capital will be urged to adopt higher-density housing favoured in Europe to make better use of available land.

City leaders will present firms with new guidelines setting out the model for compact living they want to see.

A new planning guideline document highlights modern mews and colony styles found along the canals of Amsterdam and in regenerated areas of London, such as Tower Hamlets.

Edinburgh City Council said it was clear mistakes had been made in the past. Low-density modern developments in Fairmilehead and The Gyle were cited by some critics.

The city needs to construct 16,000 new homes over the next decade but has struggled to deliver more than 1,000 annually in recent years. Planning chiefs are concerned about the lack of space available in the capital and are reluctant to release green-belt land.

The Edinburgh Design Guidance document was released yesterday and is intended to be studied by housing firms before they bring their applications to Scotland’s second-largest local authority.

“In recent years, we have seen examples of low-density housing, and it’s important we make the most of the land we have and stop encroachment on to the green belt”, Ian Perry, the city’s planning leader, told The Scotsman. “We want to see developers coming to us with high-density, low-rise models and that’s why we have included examples found in Amsterdam, which has built narrow streets and placed garages underneath properties to make the most of the space they have.”

Despite a shift towards more tightly packed compact living, however, council chiefs have insisted that the size of properties must not decrease, to ensure “satisfactory amenity”. This means officials expect a one-bedroom apartment to be at least 52 sq metres, a two-bed 66 sq m and a three-bed at least 81 sq m.

Instead, housing firms have been told to narrow streets, placing emphasis on pedestrian and cycle access, and make better use of shared space.

The guidelines have been welcomed by the Cockburn Association civic trust, which said it was against “urban sprawl” and the use of green-belt land.

However, private firms have protested against the guidelines.

Housing builders Barratt and Stewart Milne both said they wanted the flexibility to build smaller properties with lower ceilings and use less expensive materials if they wished.

But Richard Murphy, owner of Richard Murphy Architects, said private firms had to be given ambitious targets.

“We are still seeing too many Victorian and Georgian pastiches as well, some of which are deeply tasteless”, he said.

“There is also an issue with the density of properties, but Edinburgh is making some progress.”

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