Western Harbour regeneration development “going green” to support net zero ambitions

Wednesday 14th July 2021

Western Harbour regeneration development “going green” to support net zero ambitions

The Western Harbour housing development at the Port of Leith in Edinburgh is “going green” with a new proposal to significantly reduce the consented number of car parking spaces on-site alongside other incentives to reduce carbon emissions and plans to create an environmental education centre.

As part of its wider net zero agenda for the Port of Leith, Forth Ports has submitted an amended outline planning application to City of Edinburgh Council to actively drive the adoption of green energy and reduce CO2 emissions at the £250m development of the first 938 homes at Western Harbour. Planning permission for the latest phase in this development of one, two and three bedroom homes was granted in June 2020 but Forth Ports no longer believes that these proposals are sufficient to achieve its, and the city’s, carbon reduction aspirations.

The principal features of the amended plans are:

  • Reducing on-site parking to 326 spaces from 570 – down 43%
  • Parking levels 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

The centre will aim to integrate information on domestic and transport energy use to give residents an overview of energy usage trends and costs, encouraging them to use the alternatives on offer.

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 Officer 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. And in another first for a housing development of its type, the education centre will be made available to Edinburgh schoolchildren and teachers as a resource to promote education on sustainability issues.

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 of Edinburgh.

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

In the currently consented plans for Western Harbour, car parking was to have been accommodated within carbon intensive parking decks constructed as part of the homes on the development. Most of the parking decks will now be omitted and replaced with 10,950 sq.m. of landscaped areas, directly accessible from the homes on-site and saving an estimated 4,555 tonnes of CO2e.

As petrol and diesel car use reduces over time, as forecast, the infrastructure will already be in place to convert further parking spaces to E-car spaces or, should overall car ownership decline, be repurposed.

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.”

Western Harbour will be one of the most sustainably connected developments in Scotland, with direct links to the extended Edinburgh tram system and the Lothian Buses network, while offering easy access to E-car clubs, E-bikes and the city’s bike path network.

12th July 2021                                              – ends –