Edinburgh Park poised for major expansion
September 21 2018
A £500m Edinburgh Park masterplan conceived by Dixon Jones, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Sutherland Hussey Harris with Gross Max landscape architects could get underway within a matter of weeks should Edinburgh City Council lend its approval.
Developer Parabola is seeking to build 1,800 homes and up to 1,000,000sq/ft of office space on 42 acres of land on the city’s western fringes complete with a wealth of on-site amenities including recreation grounds, a civic square, shops and cafes.
Parabola founder Peter Millican remarked: “Our vision for this new quarter of the city is to create vibrancy, a place of wellbeing within a sympathetically crafted landscape that is an exemplar of quality design.”
First phase works would include no less than seven individual office blocks together with two multi-storey car parks with the developer emphasising its cultural and creative credentials by dotting a series of sculptures within extensive parkland grounds.
Looks like another lazy recto-brick ghetto.
The worst thing is, we don't even acknowledged as such. It should be a case study in what happens when we don't plan strategically.
We could have had a small 'town centre' like retail core with mixed use offices and flats around it and integrated public transport in the core.
Instead we've got a dog's breakfast and transport nightmare. Sticking a huge retail park (Hermiston Gait) right next to the east Scotland's key road junction. Mental. A cause of huge tailbacks every single day. A huge shopping mall (Gyle) but cut off from 1000s of office workers by an enormous car park and 4 lane road. The new white elephant 'Gateway' train station. The list goes on.
Now we're giving up some of the Country's most strategically positioned land (bypass; airport; train station on the doorstep) to create some horrendous dislocated residential area. Seems a strange decision.
We need to be more relaxed about vacant land in this country - or change the planning laws to enforce genuine maintenance of vacant land. Until then, we will always rush to develop strategically important land, at a long term opportunity cost to our economy and productivity. The long terms costs of this are massive. Lets start thinking truly long term.
I agree that business parks, retail parks, leisure parks (basically anything with 'park' in the name that isn't an actual park) are a hopelessly outdated and bad idea - car-dependent non-places that clog up transport on the fringes while helping kill off real urban centres. But in this case the business park has already been there for 20+ years and this site has sat as glaringly visible and yawningly empty wasteland for all that time - surely filling it in is the best course of action now? In particular, now that the public transport links have finally arrived, what with the tram passing right through and the rail stations at Edinburgh Park and (yes) Edinburgh Gateway bookending it, it's actually incredibly well connected now and probably one of the most sustainable locations for this sort of development. What's being proposed is a significant improvement in urban terms over the 90s Meier masterplan, which as the aerial view shows consisted of massive amounts of surface car parking behind a single strip of detached office blocks. The new plans significantly ramp up the density and look like they'll create a good degree of definition and enclosure to both the central linear space and side axes - certainly better than the bleak and windswept open spaces of the Meier part. I think the introduction of residential use has to be welcomed too, as a means of injecting life and offering the chance to create an actual place here, rather than the kind of monocultural deserts we still see built throughout the UK.
The greater density will mean more people driving (there are virtually no public transport links to the west of Edinburgh). Currently (every evening) there is a traffic jam going from the edge of the proposed new development to the Gogar roundabout and onwards to the Maybury junction. This backs up the bypass which also merges at this point. There are a significant number of people who work at this site whom the existing transport links are un-viable (either through costs of train fairs or time needed for multiple connections) Yes there is a lot of land that has been lying there for decades, but to increase the density whilst ignoring the existing infrastructure is just compounding the current situation.
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