Housing is one of the most critical challenges facing Edinburgh. While development is necessary, it is vital that housing be affordable for everyone and not compromise the health and environment of those in Edinburgh Eastern. As such, I will fight to ensure new housing developments are in line with the needs of my constituents and that adequate affordable housing is built throughout Edinburgh Eastern.
BAILEYFIELD DEVELOPMENT – PORTOBELLO
The proposed development at 17 Fishwives Causeway 8-9, 10, 11, 12, 25 Baileyfield Crescent is for mixed development, primarily of several hundred new homes and a commercial building. Per the developer’s planning application, there have been a number of issues with the development as proposed. The biggest issue is the density of housing, which is higher than adjoining sites and would have an adverse effect on traffic, parking, and the environment.
Below is a timeline of the steps I have taken to advocate for changes to this development in line with the views of many constituents that contacted me:
I wrote to the City of Edinburgh Council Planning Department outlining a range of issue with the development and requesting these issues be addressed before the development moves forward. These issues included the density of housing being too high, the height of some buildings being inconsistent with the North West Portobello Design Brief, and a lack of green space and provision for public services. Click here to read my letter in full.
Under pressure from those in Portobello, the property developers reduced the density of housing in a new planning application. However, at a nine per cent reduction, it is not enough and they failed to address a host of other issues with the proposal, primarily traffic, air pollution, and the height of the homes. As such, I wrote to the planning department and several Councillors raising this lack of progress. You can read my full letter here.
On 25 October developers submitted a third planning application. This application reduced the total number of properties by six houses (from 441 to 435) and reduced the height of some properties from six stories to four or five. However, the provision for parking is still only for 68 per cent of the property.
The City of Edinburgh Council’s development management sub-committee approved Barratt Homes’ plans for Baileyfield Crescent. This is obviously not the decision that I hoped for, but it is welcome that we were able to at least achieve a nine per cent reduction in housing density. I will continue to monitor residents’ concerns with housing height, traffic and congestion, and impacts on local services as the development progresses.
THE PITZ (West Bank Street site development)
The Pitz is one of the most valuable open spaces in Portobello, home to five-a-side football pitches and Tumbles, a gymnastics and soft play centre. Beach Wheelchairs Portobello also recently secured a storage unit on the site for their wheelchairs. The space is widely used and beloved by the community.
Regrettably, the City of Edinburgh Council moved forward with selling the site with zero input from the community. While housing is important, local services in Portobello are already greatly affected by the amount of new homes being built. Any decision about the Pitz’s future should be left to the community. I attended and spoke at a public meeting facilitated by the Portobello Community Council. The outcome of the meeting was that the Pitz’s future should be decided by some community-led initiative and that the Council plan should be ditched. Click here to read the Edinburgh Evening News coverage of the meeting.
As such, I wrote to councillors on the finance and resources committee asking them to immediately halt the sale of the Westbank Street site. I believe it would be a waste of time and resources to put any more effort into a plan that has lacked initial community input and lacks community buy-in at present. Click below to read my full commentary from the Edinburgh Evening News:
Residents in Lochend Gardens reached out to me about a significant increase in vehicles attracted to the area when the Hibs FC plays at home. There have been reports that the extra vehicles are parking on pavements and green spaces. This has resulted in mud on the pavement which, in one unfortunate scenario, caused an elderly resident to fall and hurt her hip. Furthermore, the road the extra vehicles restrict the road so much than an emergency vehicle could have trouble getting through.
This inflow of vehicles is causing distress for many residents. As such, I organised a public meeting to allow residents a say in how the issue should be resolved. The meeting was attended by the Council’s Local Transport and Environment Manager and a representative from Police Scotland.
26 April Public Meeting
Those who attended April’s meeting felt implementing double yellow lines on pavement and fencing around grassy areas would be the best methods to prevent increased parking. This consensus was reached after a discussion of a variety of options.
A ballot reflecting the above option was sent in May to all residents of Lochend Gardens in order for everyone to have a say on the action that would be taken forward. Residents voted 64% for and 36% against new implementations.
Taken Forward to City of Edinburgh Council
The changes recommended by Lochend Garden residents have been passed on to the Local Transport and Environment Manager to take forward. Although the process can take up to 12 months to finalise, I will continue to work with the Council to see these plans implemented.
It is not enough to ensure there is good quality housing in Edinburgh. There must be enough affordable housing, and this includes social housing. Over the course of this Parliament, the SNP will build 50,000 affordable homes. It has already delivered 30,000 in addition to 5,000 new council homes between 2011-2015. More than £1.75 billion has been allocated to local councils for affordable housing – £30 million of this will be invested in Edinburgh.
Click below to watch my speech on the importance of affordable and social housing, and how the Conservative party’s policies have impacted housing stock for the worse: