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Edinburgh Local Development Plan Postponed

Posted on 19 Feb 2015 by Marion

Holding back approval of the new Local Development Plan till after the General Election is a matter for concern. Uncertainty could lead to a rash of proposals by developers going to the DPEA (Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals)/ Scottish Government seeking ‘Approval by Appeal’. The DPEA will make their decision using the 2006 RWELP and the 2007 City Plan, but will doubtless have regard to the City’s unapproved Second Local Development Plan that identifies greenfield areas for housing in and around our villages. The DPEA reporters will determine appeals using SESplan’s currently published figures.

But look deeper. While politicians are under pressure to resist greenfield development, there is a suggestion that SESplan may be reviewing housing requirements, downwards. As SESplan use population figures provided by the Office of National Statistics, which are also under review, it is just possible that in postponing a decision on the present LDP, that revised figures might reduce the need for the large land grabs proposed and lead to a more even spread of new housing, across Scotland.

City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) say there is no legislative provision that allows a planning authority to refuse planning permission on a greenfield site identified in the LDP on the basis that there is a preferable brownfield site. I understand the Scottish Government can direct that brownfield should take precedence over greenfield. If the Scottish Government made a direction to that effect, then Edinburgh might be able to retain its current Green Belt.

With an altered demographic, fewer large family houses and more smaller dwellings are needed. The shortage of ‘affordable’ accommodation is such that CEC is considering raising the affordable percentage in new developments from 25% to 50%. Add in the number of student residences being built but which are not regarded as houses (though 17% of Edinburgh’s population are students) and one could see that with smaller houses built to higher densities, less land would be needed. If we are to cater for the next generation, new housing designs are needed, prioritising the requirements of first steppers instead of building mansions for those already well up the housing ladder.

Archie Clark

But look deeper. While politicians are under pressure to resist greenfield development, there is a suggestion that SESplan may be reviewing housing requirements, downwards. As SESplan use population figures provided by the Office of National Statistics, which are also under review, it is just possible that in postponing a decision on the present LDP, that revised figures might reduce the need for the large land grabs proposed and lead to a more even spread of new housing, across Scotland.

City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) say there is no legislative provision that allows a planning authority to refuse planning permission on a greenfield site identified in the LDP on the basis that there is a preferable brownfield site. I understand the Scottish Government can direct that brownfield should take precedence over greenfield. If the Scottish Government made a direction to that effect, then Edinburgh might be able to retain its current Green Belt.

With an altered demographic, fewer large family houses and more smaller dwellings are needed. The shortage of ‘affordable’ accommodation is such that CEC is considering raising the affordable percentage in new developments from 25% to 50%. Add in the number of student residences being built but which are not regarded as houses (though 17% of Edinburgh’s population are students) and one could see that with smaller houses built to higher densities, less land would be needed. If we are to cater for the next generation, new housing designs are needed, prioritising the requirements of first steppers instead of building mansions for those already well up the housing ladder.

Archie Clark