Edinburgh Airport is to sacrifice its secondary runway to build a massive business and housing complex.
It has unveiled plans for a site that could stretch to more than 100 acres which is claimed would be one of the best-connected developments in Scotland.
Offices, homes and industrial buildings would stretch from south-east of the passenger terminal to nearly as far as the Gogar roundabout.
The airport said it was too early to say how much the development would cost.
It said a planned new terminal access road – which it would fund – would be the catalyst for the plans to take off.
Chief executive Gordon Dewar said an adjacent development area south of the airport which had sought to attract major companies had failed to get off the ground because of the lack of such key infrastructure.
He agreed the airport’s plans would provide “a degree of competition” with the proposed International Business Gateway scheme, where he said “nothing has happened” for years.
Mr Dewar said there had been early discussions with the city council over its own proposals, and hoped construction would start next year, if planning permission was granted.
The site will occupy much of the crosswind runway, which the airport said was rarely used. It runs south-east to north-west and cannot be used at the same time as the adjacent main south-west to north-east runway.
However, the crosswind runway is used during runway maintenance and resurfacing.Mr Dewar admitted: “It will make it harder to avoid disruption, but we believe we have solutions that will address it.”
Land for a planned second runway, which is expected to be needed around 2050, has already been reserved to the north of and parallel with the main runway,
Former airport chief commercial officer John Watson will spearhead the building scheme as chief executive of newly-formed offshoot Crosswind Developments.
Mr Dewar said details of the 86-acre plan, which could be extended to 111 acres, were still being devised. He expected it to include “high-end” offices at the southern end of the site, with light industrial units and warehouses at the north end, such as for use by companies flying goods in and out.
He said a “relatively modest” amount of housing would be included to complement a major residential development just to the east of the site, around Turnhouse Road.
Mr Dewar said the scheme’s green credentials would be “way above” planning standards and that traffic growth generated by the development would be minimised by the use of the nearby Edinburgh Gateway Station, the tram-train interchange which opened in December with direct links to Fife and the north as well as the city centre.
City council leader Adam McVey declined to comment specifically on the Crosswind proposals, but said: “The west of Edinburgh, which includes the International Business Gateway development site adjacent to the airport, is a key priority zone for the council in terms of attracting inward investment and creating jobs.
“Edinburgh Airport is a major stakeholder in this and we are committed to working closely with them.”
Edinburgh Airport Watch, which campaigns against increased aircraft noise, said: “Without seeing the full proposals and what it will mean to the area, we welcome any initiative which creates real and sustainable jobs while avoiding further ground pollution and traffic problems.”