A revised masterplan proposal for the Granton Harbour area has been submitted to the council on behalf of Granton Central Developments Ltd.
As we’re seeing in many of the undeveloped brown field sites around North Edinburgh, such as Shrub Place, developers are seeking to lower the density of housing on these sites – and in the case of this proposal the reduction is significant. The number of proposed homes is reduced from 3396 consented in the original outline approval, down to 1703 residential units.
According to the developers, the new plans will see more focus on family homes, with most residential buildings reduced to three or four storeys high.
The new plan also incorporates a greater diversity of uses, with the incorporation or retention of some of the existing commercial uses on the site, and plans for a new 120 bedroom hotel. In general, these proposals are likely to be uncontentious, and indeed the reduction in massing and building heights, and the focus on family homes could help to produce a development that is of a more “human scale.”
However, where the development does leave a lot to be desired in our view, is in the active travel facilities.
This development is located in a key point on the North Edinburgh path network. A number of traffic free paths finish on, or adjacent to the development, and yet the new proposals seem to do nothing to extend and link existing facilities.
As a consequence, we have submitted a comment calling on planners to approve the proposals above, but with conditions that ensure the following are built as part of the development:
1. A segregated two-way cycle lane running along the north side of West Harbour Road, in order to allow cyclists to travel safely East-West along the coast, without being forced to detour all the way around the coastal perimeter of the new development. This should be regarded as a key link in the city active travel network.
2. The excellent segregated cycle facilities on Waterfront avenue should be extended to the junction with West Harbour Road with appropriate signalised crossings allowing safe entry and exit to the development.
3. An additional signalised crossing, with dropped kerbs and facilities for cyclists, should be provided at the Western boundary of the development at Western Harbour Road, where the coastal path meets a dedicated traffic free path that connects southwards with Waterfront Avenue.
We believe that ensuring that the development is effectively linked into the surrounding active travel network is important – particularly if there is to be a greater focus on family accommodation, and more commercial activity in the area.
In our comment, we also call on planners to make sure that the developers do more to include better quality active travel facilities within the development too. As a minimum, we believe that the waterfront promenade should be properly specified to make sure it is built to a width that can accommodate cyclists and pedestrians – and that stepped access points to the promenade are “designed out of the plan.”
The promenade path built along the edge of the Western Harbour development exemplifies what can happen if these things are not specified properly. It has been criticised for being too narrow so that cyclists and pedestrians are forced into confict. It also can feel unsafe as it has few “escape routes” – and lastly it is difficult to access for people using wheelchairs, buggies or bikes at some points. These design flaws should all be avoided at Granton.
We have also called for the planners to insist on segregated cycle facilites on the main routes in the development too. Again, as a minimum, we believe that the excellent quality segregated facilities on Waterfront Avenue should be extended along the proposed “Hesperus Broadway,” which forms the main access route through the centre of the development.
And lastly, we call on the council to ensure that developers build public green-space into the development as it is constructed – even if some of it is ultimately temporary. Public open space should not be the last things which developers build.
We have noted that the public sector has been required to invest thousands of pounds in the creation of better quality temporary public green space at Western Harbour – even though the masterplan for that area includes a large permanent public park – and believe that this situation can be avoided in Granton with the addition of planning conditions that specify how much public green-space should be built as part of each of the development phases.
You can read our full comment here, and you can find all the planning documents associated with this proposal on the council planning portal here.
Cycle campaign group SPOKES have also submitted comments on this application, whilst we understand at least one of the local residents groups have too. If you would like to comment as an individual, you have until the 3rd of May.