Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

FM urged to intervene over Edinburgh homes plan

The 'garden district' Image copyright Murray Estates
Image caption The planned "garden district" is to the west of Edinburgh

An Edinburgh MSP has asked the first minister to intervene over plans to build thousands of new homes in the west of the city.

Alex Cole-Hamilton said City of Edinburgh Council had not taken account the impact on local infrastructure.

Nicola Sturgeon told the Edinburgh Western MSP it would be wrong to interfere in local decision making.

There are plans for a 1,350-home development on green belt land on the edge of Edinburgh.

The "garden district" project could eventually see up to 6,000 homes built on the site over the next 20 years.

Speaking at First Minister's Questions, Mr Cole-Hamilton said: "I asked the first minister to intervene because today Edinburgh Council is pushing ahead with this housing project with little regard for the pressure on local infrastructure, from health centres to road congestion.

"Current planning rules mean that the council cannot properly take into account the massive pressure on health services that these development will cause.

"The only people who can take account of both housing and health are the Scottish government. Ministers need to commit to helping the existing communities of western Edinburgh protect their public services."

Image caption Alex Cole-Hamilton raised the issue at First Minister's Questions

Mr Cole-Hamilton added that the development could have a "substantial negative impact" on green belt land, which was "not fair" on existing communities or those who moved to the area.

Ms Sturgeon said the question was a "contradictory attack" on a government often criticised for not building enough homes.

She told the chamber: "From a party that is usually standing up in this chamber accusing the Scottish government of centralising decision making to now stand up and ask us to to pass legislation to restrict the local decision making of a local council seems to me to be entirely on its head.

"So we will continue to make sure that the planning system operates effectively, that concerns of the local community are taken into account and that we can see expansion in house building which is much needed across the country."

Edinburgh councillor Ian Perry, convener of the city council's planning committee, said: "Funding all the necessary infrastructure including roads and schools to support Edinburgh's growth is a major challenge as the costs are considerable.

"We are working closely with the development industry and government bodies to find ways in which we can identify funding.

"We are also developing a detailed action programme to support the local development plan, which will identify how we plan to meet the costs associated with all of the developments across Edinburgh."

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