Development in Bonnington

Historically, Bonnington was a milling village that grew around the Water of Leith. The area has since been home to business and light industry, including the John Lewis depot, the former Crawfords Biscuits warehouse and the original Chancelot Mill (before it moved to Leith Western Harbour in the 1970’s).

Bonnington MillIn more recent years, as industry has declined, the area has had great potential to provide new homes for the city.

We created a long-term development brief for the area in 2008 to ensure that:

  • housing development did not prejudice existing businesses;
  • modern, flexible business space was still provided in the area; and
  • better connections were made between Bonnington and wider pedestrian routes, cycle networks and green spaces.

Our development brief covers the area highlighted in purple below. It’s been almost ten years since its publication – so, what has happened in that time?

fig 4b

Well, there’s been a wealth of redevelopment, and the area is almost unrecognisable when compared with the 1929 aerial shot. Development in Bonnington has been residential-led and there’s potentially a lot more to come.

We recently had a walk around Bonnington to visit completed development, sites under construction and sites currently being assessed for planning permission. These included:

  • Flaxmill Place

flaxmill-pl-comercial1.jpgLocated just off Newhaven Road, this development for 130 residential homes was granted planning permission in November 2012. The development was finished in 2016, on the site of the former Johnston Print Works. Although space for light industry has not been formally reinstated, business space has been provided. One unit is currently occupied.


  • Bonnington Village

Works to construct Bonnington Village are underway, just off Bonnington Road Lane. The development was granted planning permission in 2016 and works began in May 2017. The development will provide 214 homes, as well as two commercial units that will lie adjacent to the existing flats at Tinto Place. An improved north to south pedestrian link will also be delivered through the development.

  • West Bowling Green Street

The building works for 98 residential properties on West Bowling Green Street began in July 2017. As you can see in the plans below, both commercial and retail space is to be provided on the ground floor units fronting Anderson Place. The development will also deliver the foot way and cycle way we initially proposed in our development brief. You can see this route in Figure 4b above.


As we move towards our next Local Development Plan, LDP 2, we will be reflecting on how well our policies for housing and employment space have been working. New employment space is being provided in Bonnington, however, it is not as flexible as the older industrial and storage buildings it is replacing. We still think there’s a need to provide industrial space in this part of the city.

The LDP 2 process is likely to include reassessing our approach to such areas, to ensure that a variety of employment sites are available across all parts of the city.

We will be looking for your input soon as we prepare to plan for the future of Bonnington and the wider city. In the meantime, you can view and comment on the range of planning applications we receive for the city on our planning portal.

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Edinburgh – a natural capital

Every three years, all public bodies in Scotland report to the Scottish Government on how they’re meeting the legal requirement to further the conservation of biodiversity.  Our report sets out how we’ve looked after our valuable natural environment and worked with partner organisations to improve our green and blue spaces for nature.

Examples of the type of work include:

  • policy work to incorporate the natural environment in the Edinburgh Adapts climate change programme
  • site management changes across Council-owned parks to increase natural areas and meadows
  • community projects such as food growing projects, which have wider health and social benefits as well as increasing biodiversity
  • education, communication and professional in-house training are other related activities to highlight the importance of protecting and improving biodiversity.

Working with the Edinburgh Biodiversity Partnership, the Council also supports work to look after some of our rarer species and habitats.

The report and the Edinburgh Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-18 are also available on our website.

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Public Life Street Assessments

A series of studies investigating the public life of Edinburgh’s town centres reveal how each currently functions in terms of pedestrian/cyclist movement and as a place.






















Public Life Street Assessments, carried out by design consultants HERE+NOW for the Council, involve a mix of direct observation methodologies, user interviews and more focussed sub studies such as facade, land use and activity studies.  In-depth analysis of this data identifies trends in the way people currently use the street environment. This has informed suggested opportunities for improvement.

The assessments supplement the Council’s existing knowledge about how these town centres function and build on existing thinking and work to date, including the Local Development Plan, Town Centre Toolkit and Edinburgh Street Design Guidance.

The studies provide valuable information for all parties with an interest in maximising public life within Edinburgh’s town centres.  They have already informed the preparation of Supplementary Guidance for each of the town centres, draft Locality Improvement Plans and a design and an improved public space trial project within Stockbridge.

Update – using the studies

One of the studies has already informed input to a Locality Improvement Plan (LIP) – the South West LIP includes reference to the Gorgie/Dalry Town Centre which was informed by the relevant study. More detailed work will be under taken to develop to a delivery plan with associated timescales.

The Supplementary Guidance, which are about to be adopted, will be used to determine relevant planning applications.

The studies will also be used as an input to the LDP Action Programme, due to be updated early 2018.  We’ll share the Action Programme here on the blog and on Twitter when it’s out too.

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The Edinburgh Local Development Plan Turns One!

We officially started using our current Local Development Plan (LDP) on the 24th of November 2016. This means that this time last week, our LDP turned one!

In celebration, we thought we would write a brief blog post to share with you five things we have achieved in the first year of our LDP.its my birthday

  1. The LDP allocated almost 700 hectares of additional land for housing. This land could accommodate up to 10,000 new homes, meaning that we’ve now identified enough land in the city for over 31,000 houses.
  2. Of the newly allocated land, sites that could provide over 3,000 homes are already under construction and an additional 1,000 units have received planning consent.
  3. We adopted five Supplementary Guidance documents covering the City Centre Retail Core and the Tollcross, Corstorphine, Leith and Bruntsfield & Morningside Town Centres.
  4. We updated two planning guidelines – the Edinburgh Design Guidance and Development in the Countryside and Green Belt.
  5. We carried out our first feedback survey that asked you how effectively you’d been involved in the creation of the LDP. We look forward to engaging with you more as we move towards our next LDP, LDP 2.

Sign up to our blog mailing list for more exciting LDP updates!

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Development in the Countryside and Green Belt Non-Statutory Guidance

Living in Edinburgh, we’re surrounded by a band of countryside and green belt. We want to make sure that this natural heritage of ours is protected and enhanced, so, we control what kind of development is allowed in these areas.

development in the CS and GB

The Edinburgh Local Development Plan (LDP) replaced the Edinburgh City Local Plan and the Rural West Edinburgh Local Plan in 2016. From the LDP we now have one single Policy across our boundary, Env 10, that deals with ‘Development in the Countryside and Green Belt’.dev in C and GB cover

We first published supporting guidance for this Policy in 2007. Recently, we’ve updated this to make sure it reflects our current practice.

You can have a read of our refresh here. The revised guidance should help all users of the LDP understand Policy Env 10.

Some key changes following our redraft include:

  • a new layout;
  • clarification as to when new buildings will be allowed in the countryside and green belt;
  • additional criteria to be met when replacing low quality buildings;
  • further information about ancillary uses and energy development; and
  • guidance about materials and high quality design, taken from the updated Edinburgh Design Guidance.
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Great Green Roof! City centre rooftop safari filmed at Council HQ

In common with several city centre buildings, the Council HQ at Waverley Court has rooftop gardens.  Green roofs on buildings have many benefits including improving energy efficiency, reducing the urban heat island effect and reducing water run off in the built environment.  They can also be a really good habitat for wildlife.

In recent years the grass areas on the Waverley Court roof have been changed into wildflower meadows to make them more attractive to people and pollinating insects.  Back on a sunny August day, Anthony McCluskey from Butterfly Conservation Scotland ran a butterfly and bumblebee safari to give staff a lunch break with a difference!  It was a lovely sunny day and you can watch some footage of the meadow and safari below.

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Housing Land Audit and Delivery Programme 2017

The Supply of Land

The Council use something called the Housing Land Audit and Delivery Programme (HLADP) to assess the supply of effective land for housing in Edinburgh.

What is effective land?

Effective land must be free of any constraints that could prevent the building of homes. These constraints can include:

  • who owns the land;
  • contamination;
  • how easily the land can be sold;
  • infrastructure (including roads and schools for example) and;
  • how the land is currently used or has been used in the past.

The Strategic Development Plan for South East Scotland sets out how many new homes the city needs. This figure is currently 20,222 to be built by 2026.

Our latest housing land assessment in October was the 2017 HLADP. We have identified effective land for 23,329 houses on a mix of both brownfield (55%) and greenfield (45%) sites.

Sites included in the 2017 HLADP are in the Local Development Plan or have planning permission.


The Delivery of Homes

The HLADP examines the supply of land and the expected delivery of new homes.

table for blog

The output target is a five-year segment of the housing land supply target. The delivery programme is the number of homes likely to be built over the next five-years. We calculate this figure in agreement with Homes for Scotland.

Accelerating Delivery Rates

Many factors, including the strength of the economy and the demand for housing, can affect the construction of new homes. Even if we have enough land, it won’t always mean that houses will be built.

The credit crunch has affected the construction of housing in recent years. Although the country is still recovering from this, completions have doubled in the last four years. Current build rates in the city are steadily growing.

We are working to find ways to further speed up build rates in the city. The diagram below highlights some of the factors we have identified.

HLADP table

What’s next for the HLADP?

We will be using the HLADP to update our next Local Development Plan Action Programme. We’re also doing work to identify potential interventions to increase the delivery of housing. That will be reported next year.

Look out for our next blog post about a housing site currently under construction in the city.


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