Land beside Edinburgh Airport planned for 7,000 homes by Sir Bill Gammell

Oil and property magnate Sir Bill Gammell today announced plans for one of Europe’s biggest urban expansion projects on land beside Edinburgh Airport.

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The development known as West Town includes space for 7,000 homes as part of a complete new neighbourhood featuring offices, a school, GP surgery, park land and a vibrant town centre. A third of the homes would be earmarked for affordable housing suitable for key workers.

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The £2billion project led by Sir Bill and Drum Property Group involves building on 205-acres of brownfield land which sits beside the tram line to Edinburgh Airport.

Graeme Bone (L) and Sir Bill Gammell (R) with artistic impression of tram line (picture - Jamie Johnston)
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West Town will be modelled as a ’20 minute neighbourhood’ which means that everything residents would need for their day to day lives would be available within a short walk or bike ride of their homes. The concept has been embraced by the city council and has grown in popularity around the world since the Covid-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the importance of liveable communities.

The developers aim to create complete, compact and connected neighbourhoods that allow people to work, live and socialise locally.

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Sir Bill said: “We see a wonderful opportunity and important responsibility working alongside all stakeholders to create a pioneering, innovative and sustainable legacy for the future West Town community of Edinburgh.”

The site is well placed to allow residents to make use of excellent train, tram and bus links into the city centre – including a tram stop within the site which was created ready for development to take place in the area – as well as being close to the airport. The homes will also sit close to two of the city’s major employment centres, the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Gogarburn headquarters and Edinburgh Park, encouraging the idea that more people may in future live within a shorter distance of their workplace.

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Graeme Bone (L) and Sir Bill Gammell (R) unveil new project (picture - Jamie Johnston)

One of the most strategically important developments in Scotland

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Spanning 205-acres of land between Ingliston Park and Ride and the Gogar Roundabout the site has been described as one of the most strategically important development areas in Scotland.

Formerly marketed as ‘Edinburgh 205’ and part of the planned International Buisness Gateway the area is considered a key location to open up the west of the city.

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West Edinburgh was highlighted as a key component of future growth in the proposed Edinburgh City Plan 2030, published by Edinburgh City Council in November.

An aerial view of the West Town site
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The West Town site was marked in the city plan as an essential part of the vision for west Edinburgh to become a “vibrant, high density, mixed use extension to the city with a focus on place making, sustainability, connectivity and biodiversity”.

The development is expected to take place in phases over the next ten years with flexibility within the plans to create significant office space should demand arise following the pandemic.

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Drum expect to bring forward initial plans to the city council next year after striking a co-operation deal with the developers behind the Crosswinds proposals for neighbouring land next to the airport.

The group says the 20-minute neighbourhood philosophy will encourage a village mentality in West Town which is likely to feature a series apartment blocks of three to five storeys subject to detailed planning permission.

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Artistic impression of West Town

Managing director of Drum, Graeme Bone said: “Our ambition for the area matches that of the proposed Edinburgh City Plan 2030.

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“The amount of space on the site combined with its superb location allows for a natural extension for the west of Edinburgh, providing a new ‘20-minute neighbourhood’.

“As well as the close proximity to the airport, the site has direct access to some of the best public transport in Scotland.

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“The tram line travels directly through the site and there are integrated rail, cycle and road connections creating a strategic gateway to the city.”

Edinburgh City Council will have a key role in West Town

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Mr Bone added that the launch of West Town is the start of a long-term collaborative process working closely with the council and other key agencies.

He said: “We have established productive working relationships with local and national stakeholders in the private and public sectors, and now look forward to building momentum and advancing our vision for what will become one of the most exciting places to live, in one of the best cities in the world.”

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The city plan recommends a collaborative masterplan to be coordinated by the council and key stakeholders to drive forward a “mixed use development for some 7000 homes, along with the commercial and community facilities required for a 20-minute neighbourhood”, supported by “additional active travel and public transport infrastructure and services.”

Drum Property Group say they are experienced creating large-scale communities

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Drum is currently working on a number of large-scale communities across Scotland including construction of a campus headquarters for Barclays, 324 apartments for L&G and a 75,000 square foot office for the Student Loans Company.

Developers have also announced that they will start construction of the country’s largest ever hotel with The Student Hotel at Candleriggs Square in Glasgow. Student housing is not expected to be a feature of the West Town plans.

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Mr Bone said the developer’s experience creating large-scale communities across Scotland will help bring West Town to life.

He said “Drum has a proven track record of delivering high quality large-scale communities across Scotland. This is a once-in-a generation opportunity to deliver the transformation of the west of Edinburgh whilst playing a critical role in Scotland’s economic recovery and ongoing development for decades to come.”

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