From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes

UNIFYING THE TOWN CENTRE

The following document has been produced by local resident Eoghan Howard on behalf of Wester Hailes Community Council. It outlines how the construction of the new Healthy Living Centre and the anticipated housing development adjacent to it on the vacant Harvester Way site could become the springboard for a longer term process to redevelop and expand the town centre area of Wester Hailes.

A TOWN CENTRE UNIFICATION PLAN FOR WESTER HAILES?

Background:  The first serious plan for a fully integrated Town Centre for Wester Hailes linking up both sides of the railway line emerged in the early 1990’s. This was made possible through the demolition of the 8 Park & Drive high-rise blocks on the “south” side and various proposals for new housing and commercial leisure developments on the land that was made available. The repeated failure of several such commercial leisure proposals has meant that only part of the land on the eastern side of the site has since been developed  – i.e. The  Greenway Centre (now Harvesters Business Centre) in 1997 and Places for People Harvesters Way housing in 2008/9.

Proposal:  That, with the imminent opening of the currently under construction Wester Hailes Healthy Living Centre in Autumn 2013, and adjacent Places for People housing proposal anticipated to be completed soon afterwards,  the long-term plan for a fully unified Town Centre is collectively pursued and finally  implemented.

Context & Benefits:  Of particular importance here has been the successful partnership between the Wester Hailes Community Council, local City Councillors, and the area’s constituency MSP (with further support from the Westminster MP), which resulted in the original plan for the re-opening of the underpass beneath the railway line – that had been partially blocked up by the Council in 1996 – being vastly improved.  Once opened, this new safe, accessible, and attractive pedestrian route between the shopping centre and the Healthy Living Centre, new housing, and other locations will provide a major opportunity to further integrate all WH Town Centre facilities. This would be expected to create additional social, leisure & shopping benefits for those who live or work on either side of the railway line and associated commercial benefits for the shopping centre and local traders.

The diagram below is intended to assist with the development of a  Wester Hailes Town Centre action plan – perhaps as a continuation of the successful underpass resident/ representative partnership and ideally with the inclusion of the Shopping Centre owners, Places for People,  and other interested parties. This has been influenced by the 2010 “Gehl Report” on the results of a major Placemaking exercise involving Edinburgh Council, Lothian Health Board, and various local agencies. 

NB: To see the diagram below in greater detail, just click on the image to see a larger version.

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