Back to drawing board on City Region expansion plans, say Greens

A key document designed to oversee growth of the Edinburgh city region needs to be sent back to the drawing board, Green councillors have argued. 

The Strategic Development Plan Main Issues Report (SESPlan MIR) ends its consultation period today (30 September). It sets out a context for planning and development in the south east of Scotland through to 2037.

However, Green councillors have criticised the approach, saying that it is based on a level of growth in the region far beyond anything in the recent past, with 135,000 new homes proposed; and fails to focus on specific shortfalls in affordable housing and on the business needs of a low carbon economy.

Green planning spokesperson Cllr Nigel Bagshaw said:

“The SESPlan MIR is a developer’s fantasy, built on a never-never land of endless expansion of the city and on economic growth without heed to the consequences.  It is not what the city region needs.

“The scale of housing development projected is far beyond current or past levels of delivery and a distraction from the real priorities: to require developers to release land they are currently hoarding; to focus new supply on brownfield sites; and to significantly increase the supply of homes at below market prices.

“On economic development, there are fine principles, such as boosting existing town centres but that needs to be followed through into individual development proposals. And the SESPlan needs to say a firm “no” to outdated industries which rely on squeezing out yet more fossil fuels, whatever the technique.

“On transport SESPlan needs to be a crossroads at which planners pay more than lip service to sustainable transport. Giving priority to active travel like walking and cycling and to public transport is welcome but not if, at the same time, development plans are giving over acres of land to new car-parking. And uncritical endorsement of airport expansion is just wrong, at a time when so many flights in and out of Edinburgh are for domestic passengers.

“So, what we have simply is not good enough. Back to the drawing board for SESPlan.”