Global interest in taking a stake of £2bn work

Edinburgh City Councillor Frank Ross. Picture: Jane Barlow
Edinburgh City Councillor Frank Ross. Picture: Jane Barlow
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CITY developments on target to deliver jobs, investment and will revitalise some neglected areas, says Frank Ross.

After two years as economy convener at Edinburgh City Council, Councillor Frank Ross checks out the progress of over £2 billion of key developments springing up across the city:

The Edinburgh 12, the name given to 12 of the biggest and most significant developments in the city has the potential to support up to 20,000 jobs once complete and 28,000 during construction.

These developments will go some way to address the city’s demand for Grade A office space and much-needed 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 there is physical evidence of work being carried out.

Edinburgh 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 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 £1bn Edinburgh St James, which will boost the city’s retail offering and transform the east end. The council has played a crucial role in securing this major international investment.

This included early discussions at annual property 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 £61 million to improve public space and infrastructure in the area.

Edinburgh St James has outline planning permission for high quality retail space, office accommodation, hotels, a digital theatre, restaurant, housing and an 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 opposite Haymarket Station. This includes vital strengthening of rail tunnels and archaeological excavations. When work is complete, this site will be transformed into a £200m mixed-use development delivering offices, hotel and retail space with the potential to create 3,500 jobs.

Another major development project under way is New Waverley, a mixed development which will revive the industrial gap site in the Old Town.

International consortium Artisan Real Estate Investors plans a £150m mix of hotels, shops, cafes, restaurants and 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. Last month we 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 under way on delivery including:

Shrubhill – two development sites to transform Leith Walk with differing ownership and consents for student housing and residential and commercial.

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

Fountainbridge – a major regeneration area which includes three sites in separate ownership on the former brewery site. The EDI Group are taking the site development forward, a planning application having been submitted. Boroughmuir High School will be located on the site.

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

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.

We are making significant headway with Edinburgh 12 and are working closely with developers and potential investors to identify deliverable opportunities. As we continue to engage with developers and investors we expect further sites to come forward for inclusion. At present 34 development sites are 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 under way, we are engaging with potential occupiers who will fill the new office, retail and hotel space. With the economy continuing to perform strongly; there is no better time to invest in Scotland’s capital.

• Councillor Frank Ross is the economy convener of the City of Edinburgh Council

www.edinburgh.gov.uk

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