THOUSANDS of homes are set to be built on greenbelt land as a direct result of the Edinburgh trams system.
Around 5,000 new homes will be built on currently open land by developers keen to take advantage of the new transport link into the heart of the capital.
The enormous scale of the development is revealed by the fact that only 1,100 new homes on greenbelt were approved in the past five years.
The latest development plan for the city was released this week and shows that 3,200 new homes are planned for the west of the city, up to 2,500 of which are on greenbelt.
An additional 1,200 to 1,700 homes are planned for greenbelt land in the eastern half of the capital.
The pressure for new homes is likely to be particularly intense in the west of the city because the trams – which are due to start running in the summer of 2014 – will pass through the western suburbs on their way from the airport to the centre.
Planning leader Ian Perry said: “If we don’t allow these developments, house prices will rise and you will need a very high income to live in Edinburgh.
“Families could also be forced out of the city, as it would be too expensive to live here.”
Alison Kirkwood, the council’s principal planner, confirmed the arrival of the trams made the area more popular.
She said: “This is one of the best parts of Edinburgh to direct growth and transport accessibility is very important.”
David Marshall, a business analyst at Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre, said new homes are needed in order to combat a future “shortage”.
He said: “We would expect there to be considerable demand in that area after the tram project is completed.”
He added: “New-build availability has died down a lot and that, coupled with the fact that we have a great number of people coming to live here in Edinburgh, leads to a shortage.
“In the long term, if demand is not matched it will push house prices and even rents up, which is not good news for most of us.”