Council Leader Adam McVey comments in the Scotsman about the confidence investors continue to have in Edinburgh - and how such development can help the City's economy to recover sustainably.
Edinburgh has always been an attractive and in-demand city to live, work, visit and invest in. We are a central driver of Scotland’s economy and it’s good to see our successful industries getting back into gear with the return of construction and many other parts of our economy across the City.
There is of course a long way to go as we adapt to the circumstances that COVID-19 has brought about. It has been important in the economic recovery that we have stuck to our vision of Edinburgh as a greener, fairer City that prioritises the wellbeing of citizens.
An important element of this has been to ensure that our recovery is as green as possible – making decisions and taking actions that have a positive impact on reducing our carbon emissions and setting us up for a more sustainable, resilient and green future.
We’ve made strong headway with our ambitious plans to build 20,000 new homes in Edinburgh and, with developers across the City, our plans are back on track. We’re progressing the regeneration of the Granton Waterfront and aim to deliver some of the greenest housing possible at Fountainbridge and Meadowbank. This is not only a priority for supporting economic resilience and local jobs in the immediate aftermath of this emergency – it’s vital to provide safe, warm homes for our residents who need them.
We’ve been working flat out with Scottish Government and other partners to provide a safe place to stay for people without a home, and we need to strike a balance going forward so that residential properties being run as short-term lets return to their proper purpose as much-needed homes.
We’re also cementing Edinburgh’s position as a world-leading city of culture and leisure, with a new sports complex at Meadowbank and the development of the IMPACT Centre, giving Edinburgh residents even more places to enjoy all year round within our city.
It’s encouraging to hear that so many developers are still committed to pushing forward with their projects. Our partners are confident that our city will come back better than ever, and clearly this will be a key part of Edinburgh’s recovery, attracting people from near and far back into the city, supporting the economy and creating jobs by doing so.
Soon we’ll be launching a campaign with various partners to welcome people back to the city, reminding them what they enjoy about Edinburgh and encouraging them to embrace, and fall in love with it all over again. With this will come support for local businesses which supports the local economy and helps to provide better job security for fellow residents.
Thanks to the relaxation of planning regulations, we’ll soon see Princes Street evolve into a more diverse and welcoming destination for people to stroll and interact with a range of shops, cafes, restaurants and other venues.
The revamped St James Centre is well on its way, we’ll see the iconic Debenhams building reborn as a well-appointed four-star hotel by Legal & General and Diageo is continuing work on the £150m Jonnie Walker Experience in the old House of Fraser site, a major addition to and diversification of Edinburgh’s tourism offering that will no doubt bring new audiences to our city, and help support existing local businesses in the West End.
Parabola is building 1,700 new zero-carbon homes at Edinburgh Park, and planning permission has recently been granted for the first housing-led development in the Garden District which will contribute greatly to the city’s housing target.
These are just a few examples, with many more developments in planning or delivery, like the BioQuarter. A fantastic asset bringing university innovation, NHS skills and investors and developers onto one campus and research and development park which will build Edinburgh’s future as a world-leader in biomedical science. The Robotarium facility is putting us at the forefront of robotics and Innis & Gunn’s new state of the art brewing operation are two more examples of the size, diversity and strength of the Capital’s economic future and the opportunities across industries emerging for our residents.
Work on the Tram extension to Newhaven, linking North Edinburgh with the city centre, has picked up where it left off. As well as driving much-needed affordable housing, jobs and investment in this part of Edinburgh, the project is crucial to the long-term, sustainable development of the city. By delivering efficient, low-carbon travel as part of a successful public transport network it will help us meet our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
While the pandemic might have slowed things down, we and our development partners are determined and resilient. Ensuring safe working through physical distancing and sanitation measures have presented a challenge, but I have no doubt the pace will ramp back up as we adjust and find new and innovative ways to progress the builds.
We’re committed to helping our current partners to deliver their existing projects for the benefit of the City and soon we’ll start a process to identify future partners who we can work with as we continue to shape Edinburgh into the city we want it to be.