The process of planning for major new housing in the Edinburgh region is not working for local communities. That is evident from the fiasco that was Edinburgh City Council’s recent decision on where development should go in the city.
It is also evident from local reaction in Musselburgh to the prospect of thousands of new homes that will destroy the character of the town.
I fear the current approach is to go through the motions of public consultation but let the developers build wherever they want, regardless of the impact, because of the urgent need for housing.
This is not good planning; it’s more like a developers’ charter and we will all pay the price if housing goes to the wrong locations.
Looking specifically at East Lothian we must question why 10,000 new dwellings are being proposed in this environmentally sensitive area.
Most people will have to commute out for work and the transport and other infrastructure will not cope, with little chance of it being improved.
It is on the west side of Edinburgh that jobs are being located. It has direct motorway links, the airport, trams and several commuter railway lines that do not have the capacity constraints of the East Coast main line.
This is where new housing should be concentrated.
If we have to have 10,000 new homes in East Lothian there is the difficult decision about where they should go. If the so-called compact growth strategy is adopted, increasing the town’s population by 50 per cent, then the consequences for the Musselburgh area are dire.
The town will be overwhelmed and will lose its attractiveness and any economic advantage stemming from its location.
In my professional view, as a retired town planner, there are better ways in which the new housing can be distributed across East Lothian.
It may well prove necessary after next year’s Holyrood elections to take a fresh look at the strategic development plan and even consider again the idea of jobs and housing together in new settlements located further afield on railway lines with spare capacity – a sort of mini New Town approach.