A development of 2,230 homes on Forth Ports Edinburgh land holdings led by Rettie.

The first phase of 234 BTR homes, Harbour Point and Harbour Gateway, was delivered with a demand of 36:1. The next phases comprise 1,600 BTR homes and 400+ homes for sale and consent for 938 of these is being granted.

Our Areas of Expertise


Forth Ports tasked Rettie with delivering a full 2,230 home masterplan to create a viable, long term, asset backed income stream despite onerous and costly infrastructure requirements.


The infrastructure requirements of the project are expensive and include a 4.4ha park, 670m of quay wall, and widespread surcharging. Full delivery of the site required innovative solutions.

Long Term Viable Vehicle

Rettie have delivered 230 homes in phase zero. Wrapping phase one and phase two as a 1,600 home, 25 year + rental portfolio, improves viability and leaves 400+ homes for future use.

Political Support

Rettie established support from The City of Edinburgh Council for this strategically important site and have since jointly promoted the project to the Scottish Government.

Design & Planning

Rettie created and managed a technical team for Forth Ports, which delivered a new RDF for 2,000+ homes, a planning AMC for 938 homes, park, and placemaking within 12 months.


Rettie developed financial models for the construction and 25 year operational hold.

aerial photograph of western harbour

Western Harbour Today

Rettie delivered 234 managed rent homes for Forth Ports, over 288,350 sq ft and three buildings.

Rettie's team created and managed a design framework of 2,000+ more homes.

AMC for phase one comprising 938 homes, 14 non-residential units, 4.4ha park, and placemaking was submitted by the project team in February 2019 and approved at committee in September 2019.

western harbour historical photo of the land

Western Harbour History

The location for Western Harbour was formed from an expansion to the Port of Leith between 1936 and 1942, as the extension of a breakwater from the historic fishing village of Newhaven. From this breakwater, Forth Ports have driven the creation of Western Harbour which now consists of 1,100+ homes, a supermarket, and well regarded restaurants, a gym and leisure businesses.

The 2002 Planning Permission in Principle relevant to the 19ha of development land remaining was extended to 2009 but comprised of considerable amounts of commercial space.

In 2016, the Local Development Plan altered to substitute residential for commercial space and in 2018 Rettie advised Forth Ports to review and modernise the existing masterplan to encompass more housing.

phased masterplan of western harbour

Phased Masterplan

Phase Zero: 234 managed rent homes. In this first step in creating the Western Harbour community, Rettie sourced funding under the National Housing Trust and delivered for Forth Ports.

Phase One: 938 managed rent homes. Rettie developed the financial delivery mechanism and headed a new development team to deliver new RDF and produce AMC within 12 months, making a 2019 start possible.

Phases Two and Three: 1,060 homes +. This stage features developing the design for a further 662 managed rent homes and 400+ homes, with a tenure to be confirmed.

Park: The creation of a new 4.4ha park, one of the city's largest in 100 years.

western harbour phase zero

Phase Zero: Delivered

Phase zero saw 234 homes delivered by Rettie for Forth Ports.

Harbour Point, consisting of 96 homes, and the two sibling sites that form Harbour Gateway, with 138 homes, were delivered under the National Housing Trust initiative and currently operated by Rettie's BTR team.

Rettie acted for Forth Ports, modelling the viability, putting together the development package, and overseeing the development process.

The demand to live in the Western Harbour community is exceptional, with over 36 applications for every space.

demand planning graphs

Phase Zero Demand

The waiting list for homes in phase zero reached 3,600+ for the 96 homes at Harbour Point.

Harbour Gateway is 65% developed and let with a waiting list greater than Harbour Point. This list continues to grow by approximately 12 applications per day.

The demand data has allowed Rettie to advise the architects and hone the building typology to meet requirements for the subsequent phases. For investors, the knowledge of employment and income from prospective applicants provides comfort.

Active engagement with the waiting list and gathering feedback from current residents allows us to gear placemaking towards their aspirations and needs.

phase one plans for western harbour

Phase One

In February 2019, Rettie, 7N, and Holder Planning delivered a revised design framework and planning submission within 12 months for Phase One.

The 938 homes and public realm are now in further design, with warrant preparation and works potentially commencing on site by the end of 2019.

The phase is fully costed by Gardiner & Theobald QS and aided by the team's engineering and geotechnical partners – Arup, Atelier 10, and Woolgar Hunter.

The ambition is for the delivery of these 938 homes as managed rent, subsequently held for 25 years plus following delivery. This long term view offers stability to residents, investors, and other stakeholders.

phase two western harbour cgi

Phase Two

Phase Two comprises a further 662 homes plus retail and commercial space, public realm, a quay wall, and boulevard.

The infrastructure and pro-rata residential cost for this phase have been planned and costed by the project QS and engineering teams with specialist quay wall fabricators.

The project is set to enter into detailed design for a new planning application, following the support from the City Council, who wrote the business case for this development.

It is expected that Phase Two will be held as managed rent for the long term, mirroring Phase One.

western harbour phase 3 cgi

Phase Three

The future for the 400 plus homes comprising Western Harbour's Phase Three is yet to be decided.

These homes will be delivered to support the demand of housing and ambitions of The City of Edinburgh Council.

This phase and masterplan can accommodate between 400 and 600 homes and includes a public square. Positioned to the northern tip of Western Harbour the homes, businesses, and public realm will command great views over the park up to the capital and to the East and West across the Forth.

The homes may be for sale, managed rent, or private rent. Interested partners or purchasers should contact the development team at Rettie.

western harbour park

Western Harbour Park

Once completed, Western Harbour Park will turn 4.4 hectares of reclaimed land into one of the largest areas of new parkland delivered in Edinburgh for 100 years.

The landscape architect, Rankin Fraser, have integrated the Edinburgh Coastal Mix with a wetland area, woodland edges, play parks, and sports areas to provide a variety of habitats and have incorporated elevated areas for visual connections to the Firth of Forth.

Rettie tasked Rankin Fraser with designing two delivery stages for the park. Stage one will come in line with phase one of the built environment and will include sports area, high quality play parks, and space close to the school for outdoor learning.

western harbour community space

Community Building

Western Harbour will have up to twenty premises available for planning classes 1-4, which will offer retail, food and beverage, office, and other functions. Thirteen of these will be in phase pone. These opportunities for small businesses to meet the needs of the Western Harbour community will work in conjunction with existing provision, including the large 24-hour supermarkets.

In addition, there will be space for an NHS doctors surgery and a three tier primary school for the City of Edinburgh Council.

Leith has numerous large employers, but for those working further afield, the site will connect into the existing transport infrastructure. If you would like to discuss how your business could join the community building, please contact the Rettie Development Team.

western harbour placemaking


The approach taken by architects 7N focuses on designing a place that encourages people to inhabit and activate their environment by provide amenities to the community that enhance the diversity of the place.

Landscape architects Rankin Fraser have designed private residential gardens and a series of pocket parks offering areas for play, sculpture, and growing space.

New pedestrian boulevards will connect round the site, linking Western and Newhaven Harbours with the existing restaurant and leisure offerings. The ambition is to bring all of Edinburgh into the space, further assisted by the expected arrival of the extended tram line.

Meet the Team

  • Matthew Benson
    Director - Development Services
  • Dr John Boyle MRICS
    Director of Research & Strategy
  • Sandy Gilmour
    Associate Director
  • Callum Beattie
    Development Services Senior Associate

Contact our Development Services Team

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