Edinburgh council risk ‘losing control’ of building

EDINBURGH City Council is at risk of “losing control” of house construction as builders seek to address a shortfall in space set aside for residential development.

The Shore, on Edinburgh's waterfront in Leith. Picture: TSPL

In January, the Scottish Government reporter told the planning authority for Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife, known as South East of Scotland (SESplan), there was not enough land for housing in its strategic development plan.

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This, and a 50 per cent cut in planned housing units on Edinburgh Waterfront, means city planners face pressure to agree developments on greenfield sites or risk worsening a shortfall in the medium term. Andrew McNab, senior planner with Colliers International in Scotland, said the planners were increasingly operating on a system of “planning by ­appeal” rather than a plan-led system, adding: “You lose control if you go about it this way.”

Ian Perry, convener of the planning committee, said: “The issue we have with the reporter’s recommendations is not about us losing control it’s more about protecting ­Edinburgh’s green belt. We have identified land for 41,900 new houses. Unfortunately, developers say they are only in a ­position to build 5,292 in the next five years. The problem Edinburgh is facing is that most of the land identified is brownfield which in this ­economic climate is less viable.

“This contrasts sharply with green belt land which is viable. Unless the Scottish Government changes its national planning policy to reflect ­current economic conditions, Edinburgh’s green belt is ­under serious threat.”