Edinburgh waterfront project promises hundreds more rental homes

One of Scotland’s largest build-to-rent property developments has welcomed its final residents as it eyes further expansion.

Harbour Gateway is the latest phase of the Western Harbour project. Picture: Steve Reid

Harbour Gateway, the latest phase of the Western Harbour managed rent community on Edinburgh’s waterfront, is said to have attracted more than 3,500 applicants.

The final residents have now been secured for what is seen as a ground-breaking project aimed at the booming rental market.

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Just over 230 “mid-market” homes have been delivered by Forth Ports in partnership with Edinburgh-headquartered property agency Rettie & Co.

Forth Ports has put forward plans for close to 1,000 more homes at the Western Harbour site due to pent up demand.

The project is one of the largest of its kind in the country and has been made possible with the help of National Housing Trust funding provided by City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Futures Trust on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Rents for residents will go up by no more than the CPI (consumer prices index) measure of inflation and a deposit-free option is also being trialled, as is a dedicated residents’ portal for communicating on community issues.

In what is claimed to be another first for Scotland, residents can take advantage of a new app being pioneered by Rettie & Co that enables them to get enhanced credit ratings from paying rents. At present, only mortgage payments qualify with credit referencing agencies.

Charles Hammond, group chief executive at Forth Ports, said: “I am pleased that the first phase of Western Harbour has been completed, bringing much needed affordable homes to Leith and the city more broadly. I would like to thank everyone that has supported the project and hope we can add a further 1,000 homes in time.”

Matthew Benson, director, development services at Rettie & Co, said the project had reached a “key milestone” with all eyes now on the next ambitious phase.

He said: “These homes bring the total number of build-to-rent properties with which Rettie & Co has been involved to 785.“The vast oversubscription for homes at Harbour Gateway illustrates the level of demand for this kind of high quality housing in Edinburgh against a backdrop of chronic undersupply.

“Harbour Gateway also sets the standard for the collaborative way in which public and private sector financing deals can be combined to the satisfaction of clients and investors, while delivering high quality homes for residents.”

Harbour Gateway resident Natalie Barrett added: “With the cost of moving already being high, it’s really helpful to be able to rent deposit-free, and we are also looking forward to having the opportunity to buy in five years and feel supported to do so.”