South Gilmerton

Mactaggart & Mickel reward Scottish landowner’s leap of faith by driving forward Edinburgh residential development

We take immense pride that Mactaggart & Mickel is a name that landowners know they can trust because of our track record for doing things the right way.

That trust in Mactaggart & Mickel came to the fore as we drove forward arguably one of the most important developments that the Scottish housing market has seen in decades.

In fact, there was a leap of faith from a landowner in the Edinburgh area which paved the way for the release of 90 acres of Green Belt land south of the capital city.

It would ultimately prove to be the biggest release of Green Belt for residential purposes in the Edinburgh area in almost 40 years, with capacity for up to 1,000 homes.

It all hinged on the fact that the landowner believed in Mactaggart & Mickel’s ability to honour our commitments and deliver – in the face of a global financial crisis.

It started when we were invited to tender at an auction for land at South Gilmerton Farm in 2007.

We put commercial terms to the agent and were selected to enter into an option agreement to purchase and promote the site through the planning system.

It was a case of ‘so far, so good’ but then the residential market collapsed in 2008 and suddenly everything was up in the air, including our deal with the landowner.

We effectively told the landowner that we could not stand by the terms we had agreed due to the impact of the financial crash – and thankfully they were understanding.

There would be another way around the crisis, we thought, and the landowner agreed and went ahead with the option agreement without receiving any money upfront and that allowed us to stick to our original strategy.

From a Mactaggart & Mickel perspective that was a remarkable leap of faith from the landowners because we knew that other companies were interested in the site.

The landowner could have easily gone back to the marketplace, but they were convinced of our ability to obtain planning permission to the extent that they moved forward with us which was a real seal of approval.

It was the result of a long history of doing things the right way since Mactaggart & Mickel first started building homes in 1925.

The option agreement for the 90-acre site was signed in 2009 and a planning application submitted to the local authority in 2014.

Mactaggart & Mickel spearheaded the planning process and we were said by the agents to have “achieved a deliverable planning consent within a much shorter timeframe than originally anticipated”.

However, due to the time taken to determine the application which was not supported by the Planning Authority, we ultimately decided to appeal to the Scottish Government who granted permission in 2016 subject to conditions and our unilateral commitment to provide land and financial support for a new primary school.

Aside from important elements like new schools, there are many factors involved in the planning process and as well as legal and technical expertise, there was a big emphasis on public consultation.

That meant we engaged with the local MP, MSP and community councils as well as staging exhibitions to enable local people to find out more about our proposals for the site.

Once planning consent was granted, Miller Homes moved to buy the phase 1 development of 200 houses and the site was sold off-market in 2018.

Then, in the spirit of our initial agreement, Mactaggart & Mickel decided not to exercise our option rights, thereby openly marketing the site in 2016, resulting in the successful sale of two further portions of land in April 2019.

Now we are in process of selling the last phase to Taylor Wimpey which will pave the way for a further 100 residential units.

Overall, the development of much-needed homes in South Gilmerton is something we are proud of.

We repaid the landowners’ faith in Mactaggart & Mickel to help them unlock the full potential of their property.

Our initial concept plan submitted to the City of Edinburgh Council led the way for just short of 1,000 homes as well as a new primary school which has to be great for the area as a whole.

Project Highlights

  • 90 Acre Site
  • 950 new homes
  • 25% Affordable
  • On site provision of a new Primary School

Meet the Team

  • Ken Hopkins Head of Strategic Land
  • Bruce Hampton Senior Land Manager Scotland
  • Conor Roberts South East Senior Strategic Land Manager
  • Ken Hopkins

    Head of Strategic Land

    Ken joined Mactaggart & Mickel in 2008 after leaving the Board of Hallam Land Management

    He currently heads up the Strategic Land Business Unit within the Mactaggart & Mickel Group of Companies.

    Graduating with an honours degree in economics, Ken has some 40 years’ experience in the housebuilding industry in land and planning.

    Reporting directly to Group Chief Executive, Ken has established Mactaggart & Mickel as a significant name in the land promotion sector both north and south of the border.

    And another thing…in his spare time, Ken occasionally ruins a perfectly good walk with a game of golf.

  • Bruce Hampton

    Senior Land Manager Scotland

    Having obtained an Honours Degree in Environmental Planning at the University Strathclyde in 2000, Bruce is a qualified town planner.  

    He has over 20 years’ experience working within the development industry in both planning consultancy and working directly for homebuilders.

    Bruce is passionate about good place making and delivering high quality development that responds to local needs and circumstances.

    When not at work Bruce enjoys spending time with his young family, live rock music and travelling to interesting places.

  • Conor Roberts

    South East Senior Strategic Land Manager

    London-based Conor boasts 15 years' property industry experience.

    Expertise ranges from Sales to purchasing sites for individual niche developments, parcelling together large-scale developments and progressing Local Plan allocations.

    Relentless drive to getting a result no matter what hurdles are thrown in front of him.

    Adaptive/flexible with a personal, common-sense approach, helping break down a complex planning system, simplifying the process to cut through the red tape whilst being friendly and extremely commercially minded.

    And another thing…Conor won the ‘best boxer of the tournament award’ at University in Liverpool against the Irish Universities Select Team.  Now in training for a 2021 Ironman event.