In recent years, Edinburgh has experienced faster rates of economic growth when compared to most other UK regions. However, it still lags behind a number of its Northern European competitors, which enjoy larger pools of labour and better transport links.
To rectify this problem, the Scottish Government has sought to develop West Edinburgh as a major economic growth zone for Scotland; attracting high value economic investment from other areas of the UK, Europe and beyond.
West Edinburgh's attractiveness is built upon it strategic location, with around 1.5 million of Scotland's working population living within 1 hour of the area. The area also benefits from a high level of transport connectivity, with the future development of the airport seeking to make West Edinburgh the international gateway into Scotland.
The new business environment being planned for West Edinburgh will benefit from high quality urban design, architecture and landscaping. This represents a major opportunity for the development green infrastructure for the provision of naturalised water management, useable open space, active travel routes and wildlife habitats.
The City of Edinburgh Council recognised the need to include the consideration of green infrastructure from the outset of the planning process. With this in mind, the Council commissioned 7N Architects and Horner MacLennan Landscape Architects to develop the Landscape Framework for the International Business Gateway Development in West Edinburgh.
Desk top surveys were undertaken along with a number of site visits to the study area. Key stakeholders were also identified and discussions were held to outline the project proposals and to enquire about the aspirations for the future uses of the land.
The resulting West Edinburgh Landscape Framework and Landscape and Habitat Management Plan recognise the value of green infrastructure for the provision of naturalised water management, useable open space, active travel routes and wildlife habitats. The Framework and Plan will ensure that green infrastructure is fully considered from the outset of the planning process and seek to enhance the wider landscape quality of West Edinburgh, making it a more attractive location for business investment.
Support from the CSGN Development Fund has provided an opportunity for the detailed development work to take place and has paved the way for practical implementation on the ground.
If implemented, the recommendations made in the West Edinburgh Landscape Framework and Landscape and Habitat Management Plan will help to link the working population of Central Scotland to the business developments in West Edinburgh through networks of high quality routes for cycling and walking.
The creation of new parks and woodlands will provide habitats for wildlife and will increase the biodiversity of the area. This will have the added benefit of improving the air quality in West Edinburgh and will contribute to the mitigation of climate change.
This project aims to provide a high quality environment for business investment. Research has shown that high quality environments are more attractive to investors and that businesses are willing to pay more such sites. Attractive business locations are also beneficial to employees, who are happier and more productive in their working environment, and less likely to take their skills to a competitor.
The West Edinburgh Landscape Framework is now an integral part of the International Business Gateway Development and is being used to prioritise works and guide investment in in this area.
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