Comment: The decision should be made by the council

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The farce surrounding Edinburgh’s Local Development Plan is in danger of turning into a tragedy.

Today there is broad agreement within the city that building hundreds of new homes at Brunstane, Newmills and Cammo is not a good idea. There are widespread concerns about the impact this scale of development will have on already congested local roads and other services.

Instead the consensus – within the council and local communities – is that the city should build a significant number of new homes near Gogar on the west of the city. As this Garden District site is greenbelt land, it is far from a perfect solution. However, there is much to commend the idea, including the “green” argument that homes built there would be close to existing public transport links such as trains and the tram.

Most importantly for many residents it could ease the pressure to build on such a vast scale in their own neighbourhoods.

There is general agreement, yet the council is planning to effectively wash its hands of the decision and pass it to the Scottish Government, which has made clear it will tend to err in favour of development. The result is that these contentious plans will 
almost certainly go ahead.

Of course, Edinburgh desperately needs more homes, but they must be built in the right, sustainable places. There are strong arguments both for and against various parts of the local plan, but the decisions about which sites are best for the city should be made by the city.

We are told that – after years of wrangling and inaction – there is not enough time to put new plans including housing at the Garden District out to public consultation. That is deplorable.

The developments planned at Brunstane and Cammo in particular are too significant to be passed by default. The council must take action to stop them, or explain to the communities affected exactly why they failed to do so.