Builders plot new homes as city shows signs of revival

THERE were signs of a revival in Edinburgh's housebuilding industry today as figures showed a big rise in the number of new homes being built.

More applications were submitted to the city council in the last three months of 2009 than anywhere else in Scotland.

According to figures released by the National House Building Council, there were 290 applications from housebuilders in Edinburgh between October and December, compared with just 93 during the same period last year.

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The NHBC said that across Scotland there had been an 87 per cent rise in the number of applications, as housebuilders predicted a brighter year ahead.

Of the applications, the vast majority were homes being built in the private sector.

Malcolm MacLeod, NHBC director for Scotland, said: "While the industry still has some way to go before reaching a period of recovery, it is encouraging to see that the feeling of cautious optimism in the industry is being supported by these figures.

"There is no question that 2009 was a tough year. However, now that registrations are starting to increase, housebuilders need the government's support to ensure that the steady improvement we have seen continues into 2010.

"Once the industry is able to match demand again, we will be able to gain a clearer picture of whether housebuilding targets will be met in the coming years."

However, Steven Currie, director of estate and lettings agent Currie and Murray, said people were being "naive" if they thought the market would return to its pre-recession position.

He said: "This has been a real rude awakening for a lot of people. Those days that we saw in 2007 are not going to come back where people were paying crazy prices.

"Realistically, I don't think people are going to know what their property is really worth for the next five or six years.

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"If they bought for 300,000 in 2007, they are not going to be able to sell it on for 350,000 or 360,000 like they might have at one point."

Work ground to a halt on many new housing developments in the city during 2009, but is once again said to be picking up.

Earlier this month, housing minister Alex Neil opened a development of 150 affordable homes on Edinburgh's waterfront.