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Motorists lose out

Green plan sees car parking cut for Harbour homes

Green space: the Western Harbour development

A proposal to build nearly a thousand apartments as part of the regeneration of Edinburgh’s ports area will see car parking spaces slashed by almost half as part of a “go green” agenda.

Forth Ports secured permission for one, two and three bedroom homes at Western Harbour in June last year but now says it “no longer believes that these proposals are sufficient to achieve its, and the city’s, carbon reduction aspirations.”

In the currently consented plans, car parking was to have been accommodated within parking decks constructed as part of the homes on the development, which is four miles from the city centre.

Most of the parking decks will now be omitted and replaced with 10,950 sqm of landscaped areas, directly accessible from the homes on-site and saving an estimated 4,555 tonnes of CO2e.

Revised plans for the £250m development at the Port of Leith will see the number of on-site car parking spaces cut by 43% from 570 to 326.

The company shares the council’s aim of encouraging more residents to use public transport, including the tram. The line is being extended to Newhaven which is a 14-minute walk from Western Harbour.

It says the decision not to allocate so much car parking space is in line with city dwelling trends and believes the development will appeal to those who choose not to own a car.

The principal features of the amended plans are:

  • Reducing on-site parking to 326 spaces from 570 – down 43%
  • Parking levels (proportion of parking to homes) will be significantly reduced from 61% as consented to 35%
  • Replacing carbon intensive structures with centralised, electric vehicle enabled spaces
  • Significantly increasing car club provision
  • A unique “Go Green” Hub, including an Education Centre that will:
  • Encourage residents to join the green revolution
  • Persuade car users to adopt other, greener forms of transport
  • Facilitate E-cycle hire
  • Support E-car sharing
  • Publicise bus and tram options

Forth Ports is in dialogue with E-car sharing companies to design a package specifically for residents of Western Harbour, to tie into the “Go Green” Hub.

Charles Hammond, chief executive of Forth Ports Group, said: “It’s becoming clearer by the day that not only do we have a responsibility to reduce carbon emissions but that there is a real appetite for this change too.

“At Forth Ports, we are committed to supporting this, not only through our major industrial projects such as the creation of a £40m renewable energy hub within the Port of Leith, but also through housing development projects such as Western Harbour.


“We want to continue the regeneration of Leith, but we believe that it needs to be done in a way that supports the move to net zero carbon. This is truly a transition, and we are confident that the steps we are proposing for Western Harbour will support the kind of behavioural change needed for Scotland to achieve its net zero aspirations.  

“Forth Ports is proud of our role in helping create a much more vibrant and successful community and we are determined to do that in a way that is sustainable. These new homes for families will create a fantastic place to live in Leith beside one of the finest, and biggest, new parks in Scotland and, of course, our fantastic waterfront.”

The “Go Green” Hub’s Education Centre will be the first of its kind in Scotland and an important new attraction in Leith. It will also feature a CO2 emissions clock – a constant reminder to residents of how much they are cutting carbon emissions by adopting this approach.


Charles Hammond: ‘proud of our role’

The development will deliver a total of 2,000 homes to be completed over the next five years. These homes will sit alongside the recently completely Harbour Gateway, already created by Forth Ports and Rettie & Co.

The development also includes one of the largest parks to be created in Edinburgh in 150 years – at 4.4 hectares, bigger than West Princes Street Gardens. The combination of this new park, the development’s carbon and energy efficient heating system and its “Go Green” Hub and Education Centre will make Western Harbour one of the most environmentally friendly housing developments in the city.

The new homes will create a new community alongside a new 540 pupil primary school and nursery which is nearing completion and is planned for opening in late 2021.

Matthew Benson, director, development services at Rettie & Co, said:“It makes no sense to ‘bake in’ acres of underground concrete car parking spaces that are likely to be largely redundant by 2030 and which cannot be easily re-purposed. 

“We are all becoming more aware of our carbon footprint and in particular the impact that our travel choices have on that.

“In such a well-connected city like Edinburgh, the opportunity is growing for making different choices, but this change takes time. Our proposals recognise the need to help people embrace this transition over the coming years.

“By amending these plans now, we can create a cleaner, more environmentally friendly place to live, providing residents at Western Harbour with homes whose green credentials will stand the test of time.” 

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