Edinburgh’s controversial $1.4bn “Garden District” wins planning approval

The first phase of a plan to build a 6,200-home suburb to the west of Edinburgh, Scotland, has been granted planning permission by the city’s council.

The proposal, which is being put forward by developer Murray Estates, would involve the construction of the first phase, comprising 1,350 homes on a 54ha site next to Royal Bank of Scotland’s headquarters at Gogar Station Road.

Jestyn Davies, managing director of Murray Estates, told media: "We are obviously delighted that the council has given such overwhelming backing for our vision for the Garden District.

"Right from the beginning, our plan was to create a genuinely world-class extension of the nation’s capital, and now we have the support of the city council, we are determined to deliver that vision as soon as we can."

The scheme was designed by EMA Architecture + Design, a local practice specialising in commercial mixed-use masterplans and residential development.

The first phase will be followed by subsequent ones over 20 years, resulting in a £1bn ($1.4bn) "Garden District". As well as the homes, there will be a school, shopping centre, sports facilities and parks.

A quarter of all the homes will be affordable housing, with the remainder split between private homes and apartments.

The plan was passed after a five-and-a-half-hour planning meeting. It was supported by Scottish National Party councillors, and opposed by the Green party, which said the plan would "rip up" the city’s green belt.

The council’s planning department also argued that the green belt would be affected. It issued a report in April on the scheme recommending rejection. The department maintained that the housing wasn’t needed, would lead to traffic congestion and prejudice the council’s Local Development Plan, which is presently being drawn up.

The proposals will now be referred to the Scottish government which will adjudicate on an objection from the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency, which is based close to the site.

Murray Estates is owned by Sir David Murray, an entrepreneur and former owner of Glasgow Rangers Football Club.

A brochure detailing the scheme can be downloaded here.

Image: A rendering of the plan for the first phase of the district (EMA Architecture + Design)

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