Capital offers prime site for three global headquarters

EDINBURGH is bidding to lure three more companies to create their global headquarters next to Royal Bank of Scotland's base near Edinburgh Airport.

The city council hopes to attract three firms to land sited on the other side of the A8, which it has earmarked for major development opportunities.

It is also advocating the creation of a "home of Scotland" complex near the airport, which would be built at the entrance to the proposed new Royal Highland Showground.

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The plans have been unveiled as top priorities for Edinburgh by Dave Anderson, the council's new director of city development, who has responsibility for transport, planning, economic regeneration, festivals and events, and tourism.

However, the former director of Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian is also warning that attempts to harness the joint economic potential of Edinburgh and Glasgow risk being held back for years without a high-speed rail link between the two cities.

Mr Anderson also declared that a "culture change" is needed within the council to make the city more developer-friendly and has insisted that new tall buildings should be created in the city centre – as long as they do not impact on key views.

The council is expected to be given the go-ahead to release land for development next to the A8 within the next few weeks, when the Scottish Government finalises a planning blueprint for west Edinburgh.

Mr Anderson told The Scotsman: "The west Edinburgh area is absolutely key to the growth of the city's economy.

"The expansion of Edinburgh Airport should see 14 million passengers using it every year by 2014 – up from nine million – and we will hopefully have the new national showground at Norton Park by then.

"However, we also have the potential to have another three major headquarter buildings, similar to RBS's, on the other side of the A8 and linked to the new tram network. That's exactly the kind of development we hope to attract to the area, and we are very keen to attract major European companies, as well as those from Japan and America, to the west Edinburgh area."

Mr Anderson said the advent of the new showground would not only help create the Scottish equivalent of the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, but also offered the opportunity for a new attraction effectively welcoming visitors to Scotland.

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"The new site of the national showground is right on the main road leading into Edinburgh from the airport and is the gateway to the entire country.

"There is the opportunity to have a high-quality showcase for Scotland right in a prime location," said Mr Anderson.

He also raised the prospect of a high-speed rail link between Edinburgh and Glasgow: "If we are talking about Edinburgh and Glasgow hosting joint events or conferences, I think we have to cut the journey time by train between the cities to half an hour.

"I do think we should be looking at getting a high-speed rail link between the two cities off the ground within the next ten years. It should be a realistic timescale.

"If we can combine the city regions of Edinburgh and Glasgow into a single economic entity we will be able to compete with the best in Europe.

"There has been some success with linking up the two cities, but we need much more progress on transport links and tourism initiatives, which have not developed as much as they should have done."

Another priority for the new director is the creation of new events and festivals to help fill hotels in the "fallow periods".

Mr Anderson has replaced Andrew Holmes, who retired last month.