A £200 million project to build Scotland’s first new town in half a century, with more than 4,000 new homes along with shops and schools, will provide “countless opportunities” for jobs, Nicola Sturgeon said.
The Deputy First Minister officially launched the Shawfair development, a residential and commercial quarter which will be built on the edge of Edinburgh, complete with rail links to the capital.
Plans for the area include building thousands of homes – around 700 of which will be affordable – two new primary schools, a secondary school and a supermarket.
The primary schools at the development will have places for up to 800 children, with the secondary school able to take 1,200 pupils.
A train station for the town on the south-east outskirts of Edinburgh will be linked to the city centre by the under-construction Borders Rail route.
The development is the first scheme of its size since the creation of Scotland’s new towns in the 1950s and 1960s, which included Cumbernauld, Livingston and Irvine.
There will also be a million sq ft of commercial and retail space, as well as a town centre Ms Sturgeon described as an “impressive development”.
The first residents are expected to move into homes by the middle of 2015, although the town will not be fully completed for another 15 years.
An initial 75 homes will be ready for people to move into in 2015, with about 150 further properties made available annually in the years after that.
The Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC) said the homes would attract “significant interest” from professionals working in sectors such as finance in the Scottish capital.
David Marshall, a business development manager at ESPC, suggested that mid-market three-bedroom homes on a new estate could have a starting price of £250,000.
He said: “A new development with rail links to the centre will be very attractive for people who work in the city and
finance sectors. It’s not likely to lack interest.”
Meanwhile, Ms Sturgeon said the government wanted to encourage more major public works programmes to deliver more housing and create jobs.
Speaking at yesterday’s launch, she said: “The Scottish Government is committed to doing all that we can to support infrastructure investment and I am pleased to be here today to launch the Shawfair development. The venture will boost local employment, create jobs, support skills development and strengthen Scotland’s infrastructure. The fact that it will be accessible as part of the Borders Rail route will make the project even more attractive.
“Shawfair is an impressive development with significant benefits to the local economy and community. Creating nearly 1,000 full-time jobs during the construction phase and over 4,000 upon completion, this project will provide countless opportunities, not only for the young apprentices joining us here today, but for those of the future.”
The development has been on the drawing board since 1997, although a definite timescale for starting and completing the work has now been set.
Building work on the joint venture between Mactaggart & Mickel housebuilders and property developers Buccleuch Property – working together as Shawfair LLP – is due to start later this year. Developers said the project would provide a net economic output of around £32.2m a year during development and £99.9m every year thereafter.
Andrew Mickel of Shawfair LLP said: “The project has long been in development.
“Our vision is to build a new self-sufficient community supported by a vibrant town centre with public amenities such as schools and a healthcare centre, transforming the area.
“We look forward to working closely with local councillors and the community to deliver a modern town suited to the needs of the people of Edinburgh and Midlothian.”
The company said the development is designed to “meet the lifestyle needs of young professionals and families” in the area over the next 20 years.
Low-cost heat and power and environmentally friendly energy for the homes will also be key, the company said.
The development launch was welcomed by Owen Thompson, leader of Midlothian Council, which has worked with the City of Edinburgh council to promote the scheme.
He said: “As a council we have been very supportive of the Shawfair vision and look forward to it becoming a reality. As well as housing, this development will have a considerable number of amenities and facilities which will make it a great place to live.”
The 350-acre Shawfair development was originally a joint venture between both Midlothian and Edinburgh councils and the Miller Group, though the company, as lead developer, exercised a get-out clause and withdrew five years ago.
Edinburgh and Midlothian councils offloaded their stakes in the development in 2011 to a consortium of developers for an up-front payment of £6m and future profit share estimated to be worth up to £20m for each of the councils within a 15-year development cycle.