Edinburgh housing plans ‘halved’ by developers

Granton Harbour, around which the development is planned. Picture: TSPL
Granton Harbour, around which the development is planned. Picture: TSPL
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DEVELOPERS behind a major scheme to regenerate north Edinburgh are planning to halve the number of homes originally proposed to make way for larger properties and a retail district.

Up to 3,400 apartments and houses were to be constructed in the Granton Harbour area of the Scottish capital.

Granton Central Developments Ltd - which has since taken over the project - has now asked to amend permission for the project to around 1,700.

Edinburgh City Council has said it is concerned by reduction in housing and will meet with backers later this week.

As The Scotsman reported last week, the local authority has launched new guidelines urging housing firms to make better use of land, to avoid having to release green belt land.

However, GDC has said plans by previous developers for one and two bed apartments were no longer viable, and that it intends to meet demand for larger homes with three and four bedrooms, while delivering the amenities needed to attract families.

The regeneration of Granton has been planned for more than a decade but has repeatedly fallen though, leaving much of the land disused.

Kevin Fawcett, who owns GCD, told The Scotsman that the five-year construction programme would finally begin in 2014 if he secures planning permission.

New retail units include a huge indoor produce market, a designer clothes outlet and a refurbished marina on the Granton coast. Two local yacht clubs are already interested in moving to the According to the 400-berth site, and the developer said it would bring 15,000 jobs over the course of the project.

Edinburgh City Council will examine the proposals over the coming weeks.

Cammy Day, the city’s housing leader and a councillor for the area, said he wanted to see the best use of available land to avoid having to release more green belt.

“We are intending to meet the developers behind the scheme later this week, but I am concerned at the reduction in the number of properties at a time when we’re encouraging firms to deliver as many homes on the land available”, he said.

“We see hundreds of bids for every home and every week I and my colleagues have constituents coming to us who can’t find accommodation.

“This new masterplan also includes a substantial amount of retail development in the Granton Harbour area and we will have to satisfy ourselves that this will not harm Ocean Terminal - which has spent the past 10 years getting to where it is.

“We are very clear that we need to build 16,000 new homes in the next ten years though and I am supportive of development in this area.”

Mr Fawcett, who is also behind a planned £44million hotel, shopping and leisure complex in east Glasgow, however, said that the previous failed plans were “flawed” and that a shift to larger family homes was key to its success.

“A combination of flaws in the previous masterplan and the harsh economic conditions have meant this scheme has struggled to get off the ground”, he said.

“We have rejigged the previous plan to move retail to a more beneficial part of the site. We have also ensured it does not detract from elsewhere in Edinburgh, such as Ocean Terminal.

“We intend to create a destination to bring people into Granton which has for too long has been out in the wilderness due to poor transport connections.

“We have done away with the high density flatted developments because too many of these have been built in recent years and we would argue that there is huge demand for good quality family accommodation.”

The re-development of Granton Harbour was originally proposed in 1999 but only around 340 of the 3,400 properties planned for the area have been built to date.

Granton Central Developments, which is currently in negotiations with land owners Forth Ports, said it intends to see between 600 and 700 family size homes built on the site.

It also intends to secure consent for a further 700, which a number of housing firms and housing associations are said to be interested in.

GCD said properties will be a mixture of terraced homes, modern townhouses and semi-detached homes, along with some apartments.

Along with amenities including the indoor market, which will cater for fresh produce and arts and crafts, a leisure complex is also planned.

Mr Fawcett added: “This project is a fabulous opportunity to transform this area and, with consent from Edinburgh City Council, we’re keen to get started in 2014.”