Capital doesn't measure up for high-flying companies

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MANY companies are put off moving to the Capital because of the lack of tall, iconic buildings, office agents said today.

Property firm CB Richard Ellis said there had been few recent developments that "captured the imagination" in the city – and that was putting off international firms.

The company said that plans for a ten-storey building at The Shore area of Leith will not meet the demands as it is too far away from the city centre.

Stewart Taylor, director of the business space consultancy at CBRE in Edinburgh, said: "While there are not that many occupiers that will specifically say they are looking for a tall iconic building, when they look at the space available in Edinburgh they say that there is nothing that really stands out as iconic.

"Tiger (Developments) is talking about a tall building at Haymarket and there is no doubt that if we get a building that is significantly taller it will stand out and companies will go for it, even if it was that bit more expensive, because that is what many are wanting."

He said that he appreciates the majority of buildings in the city centre have to be in line with the historic nature of the area but adds that those slightly outwith the city centre can be more unusual.

Quartermile is said to be one of the few developments where there are more ambitious designs, with glass-fronted buildings.

Plans were recently unveiled for a 15 million ten-storey "Pier One" landmark development at The Shore in Leith.

And developer Forth Ports has admitted it sees potential for other taller buildings in the area.

But Mr Taylor believes that the building will not be enough to fill the gap the city has for such a building.

He said: "It still has to be accessible, have amenities in the area and be an area that people can still pull up to with clients and feel it is prestigious.

"25 storeys in Leith is pie in the sky. Although it would be attractive because it would be a tall building, Leith does not tick all the clients' boxes.

"You would count out a significant number of clients because it does not have the amenities of the city centre."

He said that a prime site for such a building would be the one remaining "gap site" that could feature a "world class" tall building.

However, not all property experts believe it is needed in Edinburgh. Cameron Stott, a director at Jones Lang LaSalle, said: "Footloose requirements are more driven by expense and availability of labour. In the past, Edinburgh has not got many inward relocaters because it is an expensive provincial city with low labour supply.

"Now, with Birmingham and Manchester overtaking us in rents, Edinburgh is much more financially competitive and that can help us win occupiers."

He added that current planned "iconic" developments include Exchange Place, the extension to the Scottish Widows building,Westport, The Cube and Quartermile.