£2bn of development on track for delivery

There is no better time to invest in Edinburgh, says Economy Convener Cllr Frank Ross in the Scotsman.

Scotsman article

After two years as Economy Convener at the City of Edinburgh Council, Cllr Frank Ross checks out the progress of over £2 billion of key developments springing up all over the city.

The Edinburgh 12, the name given to 12 of the biggest and most significant development sites in the city have the potential to support up to 20,000 jobs once complete and a further 28,000 during construction. These will also go some way to address the city’s demand for Grade A office space and much needed additional hotel accommodation. Many of these sites are highly complex and can take a long time to deliver and so it is really encouraging that as I walk around the city now there is physical evidence of work being carried out on the ground.

Edinburgh truly is attractive to the international investment market with funds for these sites coming from many parts of the world. 

The Council is also playing a significant role in this success and the Economic Development service has established, The Edinburgh Premium, a suite of services offered by a team of experts who provide support to developers to ensure a smooth path to site delivery. As developments are completed and no longer require our support, others will move in to take their place.

One site we have been heavily involved with is the £1 billion Edinburgh St James, which will massively boost the city’s retail offering and transform the east end. The Council has played a crucial role in securing this major international investment for Edinburgh.

This included early discussions at annual real estate exhibitions such as MIPIM, and recent work with developer TIAA Henderson Real Estate (TH Real Estate) and the Scottish Government to develop an innovative funding model worth £61m to improve public space and infrastructure in the area.

Edinburgh St James has outline planning permission for high quality retail space, grade A office accommodation, hotels, a digital theatre, restaurant, housing and a new employment training centre.

Demolition work is expected to start in early 2015.

At The Haymarket, initial £9.6m SPRUCE loan funding via the European Union’s financial instruments has been secured for preparatory work at the gap site located opposite the newly refurbished Haymarket Station. This includes vital strengthening of the two main railway tunnels between Waverley and Haymarket and archaeological excavations. When work is complete, this site will be transformed into a £200m mixed-use development delivering a mix of offices, hotel and retail space with the potential to create 3,500 jobs.

The Haymarket is one of the biggest commercial property projects to take place in Edinburgh and as well as regenerating this part of the city, it will transform derelict brownfield land.

Another major development project currently underway is New Waverley. This is a mixed development, which will revive the well known industrial gap site in the Old Town. In days gone by it used to be occupied by a bus garage and gas works.

International consortium, Artisan Real Estate Investors, plans to breathe new life into the area, which has been left neglected for many years, with a £150m mix of hotels, shops, cafes, restaurants as well as grade A office space. 

Two years on from the launch of our Strategy for Jobs we are ahead of our target for job creation and there is huge amount of work going on to ensure that developers work with us to employ young apprentices and those furthest from the employment market

I am confident that this success will continue as Edinburgh is the most prosperous city outside London and has been ranked top of its category for foreign direct investment in fDi's European Cities and Regions of the Future awards for the last three years. Just last month we also ranked 12th in a global survey by property consultancy JLL that looked at direct investment over a three-year period relative to the economic size of a city. 

A number of the other sites also have work underway on delivery including:

Shrubhill – two development sites to transform Leith Walk with differing ownership and consents for student housing and residential and commercial. Demolition work is already taking place on the Council’s former social work building. 

King’s Stables Road is currently on the market and is attracting significant levels of interest. The site offers a prime development site situated close to Edinburgh Castle and the vibrant Grassmarket. The site has potential for a range of uses including residential, hotel, retail business / workshop, new visitor attractions.

Fountainbridge – a major regeneration area which includes three sites in separate ownership on the former Scottish and Newcastle brewery site. . The EDI Group are taking the site development forward, with a planning application having been submitted. Boroughmuir High School will be located on the site, while there has been temporary uses of the land include a community garden and pop up hotel in advance of development.

Quartermile – This award winning development on the former Royal Edinburgh Infirmary has been transformed. It will comprise of over 323,000 sq ft of Grade A office accommodation, 900 apartments, 108,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space and seven acres of open landscaping. The site already boasts the high profile occupiers such as IBM, Investec, flight search business Skyscanner, and retailers such  Peter’s Yard, Sainsbury’s Local, Starbucks. 

3-8 St Andrew Square – Work is progressing on this site for a mixed-use development with offices which will complement the public realm investment in St Andrew Square and the proposed development of the Registrar’s Lane area. 

We are making significant headway with the current Edinburgh 12 and we are working closely with developers and potential investors to identify deliverable opportunities.. As we continue to engage with developers and investors and the profile of the Edinburgh 12 project increases we fully expect further sites to come forward for inclusion. At present 34 development sites are currently being considered, taking into account economic factors such as potential for job creation, GVA impact, location and deliverability.  

Due to the high level of development sites now underway, we are now also engaging with potential occupiers who will fill the new office, retail and hotel space that is set to come on stream. There is significant interest in locating in Edinburgh and with the economy continuing to perform strongly; there is no better time to invest in Scotlands capital.

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