Malbet/Ellen’s Glen Developments

Position on the Possible Development at Liberton Hospital and Blood Labs (closed) Sites

In response to a number of residents in the Malbet Estate and Ellen’s Glen area of Liberton I have posted the following information which formed the basis of my response to one particular resident in the Malbet Estate. This is to the best of my current knowledge what the situation is. However, as with most planning and development matters background information and the actions by Land Owners and Developers can be sketchy and/or withheld from local people for “business reasons”. I will try to update this Website Post as more information comes to the fore or there are actual moves by Developers on the sites.

“The former Blood Transfusion site you refer to is in the current Approved Local Development Plan as “HSG28” is an approved site for housing development. The Liberton Hospital site is recognised as an “other development opportunity”. This means when the expected closure of Liberton Hospital occurs, the planners may combine these two sites and recommend that this site should be made available for housing development. The reasoning is to help to meet the shortage in homes in South East Scotland. This follows the Scottish Government’s stated aims of increasing the housing stock in the next 20 years or so by hugely significant numbers (tens of thousands in City of Edinburgh alone). The Scottish Government’s stated policy is to grow the economy in Scotland and to enable this significant new housing development would be required to enable fulfilment of this objective. Edinburgh is viewed as a “powerhouse” in the invigoration of the Scottish economy. Whether we agree or disagree with these aims and methods for achieving them, we must realise that is the way it is and is the result of a Scottish political decision to address housing shortages and enable a growing economy.

The plan to identify site HSG28 as an area for housing development was incorporated in The City of Edinburgh Development Plan in November 2016. During the formulation of this Plan it was modified on the instruction of the Reporter to the Scottish Government. The Reporters job is to study planning proposals and either recommend acceptance or rejection of a proposal regarding planning and development. In this case the Reporter recommended that the site HSG28 should NOT be developed until the site could be accessed directly from Lasswade Road through the Liberton Hospital site. This is the good bit ~ any future developments on site HSG28 will need to have direct access from Lasswade Road. This should serve the main road access/egress from the site ~ either as site HSG28 or as the combined HSG28 and Liberton Hospital sites. However, the Local Development Plan does show additional road access to the HSG28 site from Malbet Wynd and Ellen’s Glen Road with additional footpath/cyclepath from Malbet Wynd, Ellen’s Glen Road and Lasswade Road. The effect of access from the Malbet Estate may form the basis of comment during the opportunities to comment on any proposed Planning Application.

On the closure of Liberton Hospital, direct access could be made using the existing hospital entrance roads (modified to become a normal road). Until the hospital is closed development cannot proceed. However, on closure of the hospital the situation would be that the site HSG28 would become available for housing development. As the land on both sites is (probably) owned by a Government Agency (NHS Scotland) that Agency would be keen to sell on the land to a Housing Developer as that would ensure the best financial returns for the current land owner. As the land in both sites has already been developed for use and has already been built on, site HSG28 as well as the Liberton Hospital site would be considered as Brown Field Site. A Brown Field Site is defined as an area of land which has previously been developed and built upon.

Sites such as the Liberton Hospital site are often referred to as “Windfall Sites” as they are sites which become available for one reason or another and which are not green space sites; may not be in Approved Local Development Plans; they are additional to the planned housing proposals in the Local Development Plan, and, therefore reduce the need to build on alternative Green Space Sites by the

same number of houses. The current Scottish Government policy is that where possible new building should be on Brown Field Sites. The development of the Liberton Water Treatment Works was in an almost identical situation as will be the case for the Liberton Hospital site. On these sites it would be usual for planning permission to be granted and, more bad news I’m afraid, it is probable that the Liberton Hospital site and site HSG28 will be developed as they will be viewed by Developers as a “good”, high demand area with established services and amenities. You may wish to argue about the level of services and amenities currently available. However, that would be an issue for individuals and groups to comment in the consultation periods during the planning process and when actual plans have been drawn up.

The size of this site is such that any Developer would probably aim to get considerably more than 50 houses on the site. This will require a Developer to lodge with the Local Planning Authority (in this case City of Edinburgh Council) a “Proposal of Application Notice” (usually referred to as a PAN). A PAN requires the Developer to consult with local groups and individuals and usually hold a presentation of their proposed plans. Residents and others will have the opportunity to comment on the suitability of any proposal to develop housing. Developers may or may not change their plans in light of this feedback. Coming from the PAN a Developer will put forward a detailed Planning Application showing what types of houses, numbers of houses, street layouts, etc. Again there will be an opportunity to comment on these plans before the Planning Authority grants or refuses Planning Permission.

The Approved Local Development Plan identifies acceptable housing styles on these sites to be detached, semi-detached, terraces, “colony style” housing and flats. The Plan states that there should be a residential frontage on Ellen’s Glen Road, a pathway/cyclelink near to the Stenhouse Burn (to compensate for narrow pavement in Ellen’s Glen Road), and (as yet not defined) green space. Prior to development there would be a tree survey with the retention of trees along the frontage onto Lasswade Road.

At present there are no firm plans in place for the development of sites HSG28 and Liberton Hospital site. However, Developers will be aware that these sites will become available in the not too distant future and may be manoeuvring with regards to land purchase and outline development plans. It would appear from a recent observation of the site that there seems to be some demolition of the Blood Lab buildings. Also, it would appear that only three wards remain open in Liberton Hospital and I am led to believe that arrangements are in hand to transfer these patients to alternative provisions in the Lothian area. This would suggest that there is fairly imminent movement in pursuing development of this site.

The probability is that this land will become a housing area directly accessed from Lasswade Road and cover the whole HSG28 and Liberton Hospital site. Regarding the Liberton Hospital site there may be a proposal that the Hospital building or buildings are retained and converted into flats or it may simply be demolished to provide flat building land. Again this will depend on the opportunities which Developers may perceive. It will be up to local residents to challenge plans when they are presented by Developers and to try to influence the proposed development.

There is one final twist in the situation. On 6 May 2019 the Scottish Government rejected the next South East Scotland Development Plan (SESPlan2) on the grounds that the Local Authorities in South East Scotland had not carried out the necessary work on a viable transport strategy. This may (or may not) effect any development at HSG28 site or Liberton Hospital site. Local Authorities are at present reflecting on how they address the development of a Transport Strategy across the area; this will probably take some years. However, this does support your observations about difficult transportation links in the Liberton area.

I would suggest that you also lodge your concerns with Liberton & District Community Council as they have a statutory role in Planning Matters ~ you can contact them directly or through the Contact Point on the Planning Pages on the Liberton Association website. Here at the Liberton Association we will following what is happening at this site and aim to keep you informed of developments as they occur. This information will be on the Liberton Association website. If or when the development process begins we will assist you to challenge any or all aspects of the planning proposal. There is information on the Liberton Association Website under Planning > Resources which gives guidance about the Planning Process and ways in which Local Residents can become involved in supporting or challenging planning proposals. Finally, you are close to the site so I would ask you to keep us informed of anything which occurs on or near to the site ~ again you can email us directly or through the Contact Form in the Planning Portal on our Website.”

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