Edinburgh's biggest single housing development for years would create new 7,000-home, 20-minute neighbourhood near airport
Plans have been unveiled for a 7,000-home development close to Edinburgh Airport that would also feature shops, schools, bars, restaurants, cafes, offices and medical provision, as well as parks and a network of cycle, running and walking tracks.
The West Town project, described as the single biggest homes-led development in Edinburgh in modern times, would be a major extension of the Capital, creating a new community and a 20-minute neighbourhood where people could live, work, shop and go to school without needing a car.
The 205-acre West Town site, located between Ingliston park-and-ride and the Gogar roundabout, would be developed in phases over the next ten years, with work due to start on site later this year and the first homes ready by early 2026.
The development consortium West Town Edinburgh Limited, led by Drum Property Group, which owns the land, said the £2 billion project would help to address the housing emergency declared by the city in November and provide an outstanding quality of life in a brand-new, sustainable, mixed-use community.
The new homes – mainly in apartment blocks, but also some colony-style homes and terraced townhouses – would be a range of sizes and tenure types, but with 35 per cent affordable housing, some of it social housing.
The west of Edinburgh has seen some of the biggest growth of housing in the Capital and every new development brings concern about increased pressure on the road network. But the West Town consortium argues its site, with the tram route running through it and a tram stop in the middle, a railway station close by and regular bus services, is ideally placed to encourage use of public transport.
The developers say they want to keep cars towards the edge of the site in multi-storey car parks and encourage a “walk-around village feel” rather than people having a car parked in front of their house.
The development would have its own primary and secondary schools, medical facilities and civic spaces as well as leisure and community facilities and retail. There would also be new commercial and business space as part of the development, offering employment opportunities on top of those available nearby at the Gyle, Edinburgh Park, RBS and the planned International Business Gateway site.
The planning application was submitted to the city council this week and the developers are hoping that, if approval is granted later this year, preparation work can then start on site. Construction of the homes would begin close to the new tram stop and work outwards from there, with up to 500 homes expected to be completed by mid-2026, another 500 in 2027, 700 in 2028 and 800 in 2029, completing the first phase. Further phases would then proceed at around 800 homes a year until the whole development was completed by 2033.
There are plans for 27 acres of accessible green space, including a large 5.5-acre central park, several “pocket” parks and a wildlife corridor, criss-crossed by a network of cycle, running and walking tracks.
The West Town proposal is in line with the council’s West Edinburgh masterplan, approved in December, which envisages a total of 11,000 homes in the area. And it also fits with the City Plan 2030, which is with the Scottish Government awaiting approval.
The consortium says it has reached agreement with Edinburgh Airport and Crosswind, who want to develop the neighbouring site, about working together so the developments interact with each other. And it has been been working with the city council, under a memorandum of understanding, since May last year on how the West Town development would be delivered.
The submission of the planning application follows a local consultation programme that included two online and one public consultation events,
Graeme Bone, Drum’s group managing director said: “We now have the opportunity to make West Town an exemplar, sustainable 20-minute neighbourhood on a par with the best new developments taking place across the UK and Europe.
“This planning application is a significant milestone in realising the ambition we share with the council both for the local area and for the city, further strengthening the long-term collaborative process that is set to deliver a major transformation of the west of Edinburgh.
“The amount of space on the site combined with its superb location allows for a natural extension for the city providing 7,000 mixed-tenure homes and new jobs in a new 20-minute neighbourhood. West Town has direct access to some of the best public transport in Scotland – the tram line travels through the site and there are integrated rail, cycle and road connections, creating a strategic gateway to Edinburgh.”
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