West Edinburgh Placemaking Framework – Cockburn comments

Posted on: October 18, 2023

West Edinburgh Placemaking Framework support and comments

The WEPF covers new development proposals in and around Edinburgh Airport and land at West Craigs/Maybury.  It also includes the consented scheme known variously has the “Garden District” or East of Milburn Tower with PPP for 1,350 units.

Overall, the Cockburn welcomes this framework and strategic masterplan which will replace the West Edinburgh Strategic Design Framework and the west Edinburgh Landscape framework, both of which were over a decade ago (2010 & 2011 respectively).

The Association believes that a “total development” approach is required here, including the fundamental infrastructure of water and waste in addition to net zero and energy generation/conservation. Indeed the interrelationship of energy, water and waste management are key issues in driving overarching principles of ecology and good environmental standards.

Cockburn Response

Planning background & City Plan 2030

The WEPF specially addresses the City Plan 2030’s Place Policy 16 (PP16)– West Edinburgh.  In our comments on CP2030, we said, “PLACE 16 – West Edinburgh We are concerned with the growth strategies for West Edinburgh and therefore require clarification of the mitigation measures which will address the negative environmental impacts identified in the Strategic Environmental Assessment Environmental Report related to this development expansion.”

NPF4 is currently the primary development plan for Edinburgh until such time as City Plan 2030 is adopted.  The primary objectives of climate change mitigation and biodiversity enhancement in NPF4 need to be fully worked into the proposals.  Our initial reading of the framework suggests some areas of concern resulting from the developments themselves.  This will be addressed below.


The WEPF covers new development proposals in and around Edinburgh Airport and land at West Craigs/Maybury.  It also includes the consented scheme known variously has the “Garden District” or East of Milburn Tower with PPP for 1,350 units.

However, it does not look beyond this or south of the A8.  This framework should be better connected to the wider strategy.  The vision of WEPF should be expanded to include the Gyle and the wider Edinburgh Park Area.  We are aware of proposals to restructure the Gyle Centre akin to proposals at Ocean Terminal.  Also, other western areas of the city are undergoing change on a piecemeal, ad hoc basis.   The WEPF should provide positive connections with these areas, and this will be crucial for its success.

Some approvals and projects in pipeline

Schemes adjacent to WEPF area

Cammo Meadows – 665 homes (approved)

West Craigs – 1,650 homes approved; further extension of NW section (Rosebery estates)for further housing but no application yet.

Edinburgh Garden District/East of Milburn Tower – major Green Belt release with up to 9,000 houses (1,350 consented) with major commercial and office space & up to 1,150 hotel rooms.

SAICA site (aka Maybury Quarter) – Early discussions with presentation to EUDP; no firm scheme but city plan suggests 1,000 houses with new Primary School.

Edinburgh Park (south end) – c.1,750 new homes with commercial and 170bed hotel.

TOTAL – Potential 14,000 new homes


WEFP Area (land south and east or Airport bounded by A8 and railway; includes Gogar Designed landscape)

International Business gateway (IBG) phase one – PPP call in with 10000m2 office & 400 homes.

IBG phase 2 or WEST TOWN – shift from mixed-se to  largely residential with no specific housing numbers but can assume c.5000 or so.

Crosswind (Turnhouse runway) – 2500 homes and 43,000m2 commercial with 170-bed hotel.

TOTAL – potentially 7,900 new homes.


IBG – Phase one has essentially been granted and includes 400 new homes.  However, the developers have now argued that the wider commercial aspirations of the IBG are no longer viable, so propose a major shift to housing across the later phases.


Cockburn Comments


The Association believes that a “total development” approach is required, including the fundamental infrastructure of water and waste in addition to net zero and energy generation/conservation. Indeed the interrelationship of energy, water and waste management are key issues in driving overarching principles of ecology and good environmental standards. These should feature very clearly in this framework document and should have ambitious environmental targets that go beyond current regulatory requirements.

Similarly, it would be good to see ambitious environmental targets being sought through both the creation and ongoing management of this new area of the city. The framework should also have clear statements on delivering very high levels of accessibility including public and active travel routes both to the city and countryside.  Detailed design codes for sub-neighbourhoods are required, which would then form the basis of contracts with developers.

One good example of a large-scale masterplan incorporating guiding principles of ecology and sustainability can be seen at Hammerby Sjostad in Stockholm.  Here, a large c10,000 homes extension to the city was designed and built as a self-contained ecosystem. CaBE wrote it up as a case study in 2006 and this should be available for reference.

A Strategic Approach

The framework and masterplan should be considered as an extension of Edinburgh but as a new settlement/town.  This is due, in urban design terms, by the fact that the area of land is bound by very hard boundaries, not well or easily connected to other areas and very isolated.  Therefore, its planning will have to include all the amenities and uses associated with a new settlement/new town and not designed as an extension of Edinburgh which it clearly is not.

The TCPA new settlement network and “Healthy new towns network” may be useful reference points for addition to the WEPF.

Environmental Constraints

There are several significant environmental constraints associated with the framework area key of which are the environmental issues of placing a residential led development adjacent to an international airport.   This is not the context of a normal green field site, as aviation pollution and noise can be a health risk and the airport safeguarding requirements can influence the urban design both built form and green spaces.


There are major challenges in forming strategic connections and facilitating public access and linkages to and from the wider context given the framework area is isolated and  bound by hard physical edges including the airport.    The difficulties of integrating the tram route with future development particularly is important as the tram is currently running at capacity.  The developers’ assumptions that “there is a tram so everything’s OK” must be fundamentally challenged.

Also, critical access travel routes to the Gyle will be essential.  The A8/Gogar roundabout poses major barriers in both physical access terms but also in wider integration of facilities.  The Gyle remains a key comparison shopping centre for the area.

Heritage and Landscape

There are several historic assets both on and near to the site.  The use of the historic assets/environment as a key principle/design tool in the framework is essential.  These assets include Castle Gogar (A-listed with its designed landscape), Castle Mains (a scheduled ancient monument) and Milburn Tower (designed landscape).

The design of a strategic blue green network including the possible realignment of the Gogar Burn will be crucial to the success of any major development.  The contribution that these make towards positive place-making objectives and climate adaptation is direct.  Also, a strategic level approach to other environmental/community facilities is needed including burial grounds, sport and leisure facilities, community growing, play space etc.

Climate Emergency

In general, there is insufficient emphasis and weight has been placed in the framework requiring development coming forward to address the climate emergency.  The requirements of NPF4’s emphasis on biodiversity and climate mitigation are not strongly enough articulated in the WEPF.

The concept of embodied/embedded carbon must form a key focus on sustainable construction. The normal palette of concrete and brick materials should be challenged, as these are hugely carbon and energy intensive in production.  Nett zero should embrace a total development concept, not just operational.

District heating and local energy production should be built into the WEPF aimed at reduction of energy importation into the area.  This goes well-beyond passivehaus design standards with an expectation that all buildings should aim to be contributors to local grid, not just neutral.  For example, all roofs should be solar collectors, extensive use of micro-wind built into the local landscape and linkage with blue networks with ground/water source heat pump distribution technologies.


In general, we welcome the importance of establishing clear placemaking guidance.  Greater clarity of the proposed heights and densities is needed as it is unclear in the framework.  More detailed and localised studies and view analyses will be required.  Fundamental to this is the need to ensure a “total development” vision rather than leaving to individual developers and their design teams to determine what is, or is not, acceptable.

We support the general thrust of the place-making principles, and in particular welcome the ambition to create “a collaborative, multi-disciplinary, master plan led approach to creating a high density, mixed use, urban extension to the city, compact in form with a sense of place and community attractive to residents, workers and visitors.”


There is much to commend in the West Edinburgh Place-making Framework.

The approach to development here should be the creation of a new settlement rather than extension to the existing western fringes of Edinburgh.

A “total development” approach to net zero carbon and energy is required, which includes the embodied energy/carbon of materials rather than just operational targets.  The framework area should aim to be self-sufficient in energy production and generation.  A new baseline for sustainable development needs to be set.

The exploitation of existing heritage and landscape assets to inform development is key, which must also integrate and compliment new blue-green networks.  Increasing biodiversity whilst offering localised climate impact mitigation strategies should also be a strategic objective of development.