£7.5BN Revamp is still on

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MORE than £7.5 billion of major developments are still being lined up for the Capital, despite the ongoing economic turbulence, city leaders said today.

The 16 biggest developments planned for Edinburgh are said to be broadly on course despite the credit crunch bringing much of the building industry to a halt.

Most of these projects involve long-term commitments which mean the work is still expected to take place, albeit after a slight delay.

The schemes – which include the "vital" development areas of the Waterfront, south-east Edinburgh, the city centre and west Edinburgh – are seen as being the key to the future growth of the city.

An overview of the projects has been compiled by council officials to show the continuing strength of demand for building in the Capital.

City leaders say the projects will create a "modern 21st century capital city in which to live, work, invest and visit".

Together, the projects have the potential to create work for up to 82,500 people, once all the shops and offices involved are filled.

Property firms have warned that many developers will wait until the market improves before pushing forward with schemes, but they say that in the longer term the biggest developments are the most likely to survive the credit crunch.

City leader Jenny Dawe said: "We're obviously working in a more restricted and volatile economic environment than ever before, but all indications are that, while there may be a slowdown, developers are still committed to proposals across the city."

Cameron Stott, director of property firm Jones Lang LaSalle, said there was still reason to be excited about the Capital's prospects.

"Edinburgh has a number of significant development opportunities in the pipeline and their phased delivery over the coming years will bring about a gradual transformation of the city, with a very exciting end result," he said.

Experts warned, though, that many schemes were likely to be delayed and some downsized.

Stewart Taylor, a director of the business space consultancy at property firm CBRE, said: "In terms of whether it is likely they will still happen, the answer is probably yes they will. Because they are longer-term schemes, the landowner can take a different view. They are often phased developments anyway, so it allows them more freedom to amend their plans."

Many of the developments – including Leith Docks, Granton Waterfront and Western Harbour – are predominantly residential, one of the hardest hit sectors.

Blair Melville, head of planning at house builders group Homes for Scotland, warned that many of the schemes would have to be redrawn. He said: "The economic conditions are now having a devastating effect on the city's future building programme.

"Where house builders are already on site, there is likely to be a far slower rate of development. On sites where work has yet to begin, it is very likely that developments will need to be restructured to ensure that they remain viable, with the residential element being substantially reduced in some cases."

He added that many of the residential planning consents agreed in the city are for flats, but that there is now more of a need for affordable and family homes.

"It may be that there is now an opportunity to reconfigure some developments, particularly where there is a long lead time," he said. "In any event, the lack of housing in the city is likely to get much worse before it gets better in the short to medium term."

However, Douglas Gardiner, a director at real estate consultancy Atisreal in Edinburgh, added: "For the bigger stuff, if it takes two or three years, this is the right time to develop.

"There is no doubt funding is more expensive and that can make it hard to stack up. But if you can overcome that and see that it is going to get better, then this can be a good time to develop."