D-Day as MSPs decide on David Murray '˜Garden District' plan

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to build more than 1,300 homes on green belt land surrounding the Capital by a former owner of Rangers Football Club are set to go before Scottish ministers for final approval after a government agency dropped their objections to the project.

Housing as well as primary and nursery schools and a park are backed by Sir David Murray.

Redheughs Village, prop­osed by ex-Ibrox chief Sir David Murray, was supported by councillors when plans were initially tabled back in 2015.

However, the development – which would be the first stage of the £1 billion ‘Garden District’ built on land near Royal Bank of Scotland’s Gogarburn headquarters – was held up due to concerns over the potential environmental impact by Science and Advice for Agricultural Services (SASA).

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The agency, which conducts research into crop diseases, argued the green belt provided “a high degree of bio-security necessary for the scientific work being carried out”.

Sir David Murray. Picture: Neil Hanna

But plans may now be given the go-ahead when they are presented to ministers later this month after SASA reached an agreement with Murray Estates in October 2017.

This phase of the project includes at least 300 of the new builds to be reserved for affordable housing as well as new primary and nursery schools and a 40-acre park.

Sir David’s son, also David, managing director of Murray Capital, described the project as “critically important” for the capital.

He added: “The city economy desperately needs a good mixture of quality housing that is well-connected to Edinburgh’s growing transport infrastructure, including the new Edinburgh Gateway Station.

Sir David Murray. Picture: Neil Hanna

“If approved, this development will meet those needs and help unlock growth in a wonderful living environment.”

Mr Murray continued: “We have worked closely with those organisations neighbouring the development, not least SASA and RBS, and are now delighted to have secured their support.”

Malcolm Buchanan, chair of RBS Scotland board, said: “We are very supportive of growing the city’s economy and hope that this new ‘garden district’ will help deliver a significant boost to businesses and communities in the region.”

Murray’s initial bid for the site, which he purchased back in 1989, included plans for a 25,000-seater sporting arena set to be shared between Hearts and Edinburgh Rugby when they were put forward in 2010.

However, years of wrangling with planning officials forced a scaled-down version before councillors greenlit plans in 2016.

And Cllr Louise Young said people were right to question the use of green belt land, adding: “I have major concerns over how a development of this scale would impact on the Gogar roundabout and surrounding roads. These areas are already gridlocked at peak periods.”

“People rightly ask why areas of green belt like this would be turned over to housing when so many brownfield sites are sitting empty and ripe for development.”

She added: “With so many new councillors elected last year, I seriously doubt the dev­elopment would be approved if a vote were held today.”