As urban populations have grown dramatically and towns and cities have expanded into new areas, Governments – national and local – have sought to direct and control what gets built.
Because of this, a different type of map has been produced with increasing frequency. New buildings, new roads, whole new neighbourhoods conceived and planned in advance of a single brick being laid.
Such plans are maps of the future. What should be, what might be, as opposed to what is. And they are records of a process – from theory and concept, through outline to detailed proposals and on to the final version which the builder actually builds.
The basic shape of Wester Hailes envisaged by its initial plan was like a giant letter “C” – from Hailes Quarry in the north, heading down along the west edge of Kingsknowe golf course, south across the railway line and then bending back east below the golf course.
Through the middle of this, running like a spine from top to bottom under the railway and over and under roads, was to be an unbroken pedestrian walkway. This, as the first planning study described it, would be “the central stem curving through the site from which all the rest of the plan would grow and develop”.
Which, in reality, was very much what got built. The “C” did indeed describe the main area of the estate and the Greenway pedestrianised route is still a main feature of Wester Hailes today, running from Dumbryden to Clovenstone exactly as intended in that first plan.
The greatest deviation between original drawings and the “as built” reality was the location and type of some of the housing. Twenty one huge multi-storey blocks were constructed which greatly increased the density of development. These were either not directly linked to the pedestrian route or angled off and away from it, defeating one of the main purposes of the original concept.
The separate contracts are shown below.