Councillors urged to ‘stop procrastinating’ over Edinburgh’s Local Development Plan
Home builders have urged Edinburgh councillors preparing to meet tomorrow to move ahead with submitting the draft Local Development Plan to the Scottish Government for examination in order to start addressing the city’s housing shortage and avoid further delays.
Trade body Homes for Scotland argued that with statistics for the first quarter of 2015 showing that house prices in Edinburgh rose by over 21 per cent and rents increased by nearly 8 per cent compared to a year ago, the impact on those looking for a home in Scotland’s capital, as well as the city’s ability to attract the skilled workers on whom its future success depends, is all too clear.
The industry call follows ongoing council delays to the plan on how Edinburgh’s housing needs should be met over the next ten years. It also comes as the city awaits decisions by Scottish ministers on proposals for 750 homes – just a small proportion of the 20,000+ homes that need to be built by 2024 according to the strategic plan for South East Scotland.
Homes for Scotland believes the current draft plan falls short by over 6,500 homes but says that the City of Edinburgh Council, whose existing plan is now out of date, must move forward to avoid remaining vulnerable to “planning by appeal” – where decisions are made by government-appointed reporters on the basis of national rather than local policies.
Homes for Scotland director of planning, Nicola Barclay, said the time for procrastination on the draft plan is over.
Emphasising that such an approach is no more popular with the development industry than it is with the general public, due to the need for certainty in business planning and investment, Ms Barclay said: “Edinburgh Council has had two attempts at drawing up its plan and has ignored the industry’s concerns over both the scale of the housing shortage and whether the sites it has identified for new homes can be developed within the timeframes required.
“Whilst Homes for Scotland strongly believes that the huge shortfall in housing numbers is not being addressed by the draft plan, we are extremely concerned that further delay will only exacerbate house price inflation and the shortage of homes of all tenures across the city.
“The most positive thing the council can do at this stage is to send the plan onwards and allow the independent examination process to begin.”
The Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework is clear that authorities in South East Scotland should be making concerted efforts to ensure housing needs are being met and communities minister Alex Neil has himself been vocal on the delays to Edinburgh’s plan.