Homes reports

Council ‘failing on housing’ as city backed by investors

Miller Homes west craigs

Miller Homes is building on a green field site in West Edinburgh (pic: Terry Murden)

Edinburgh has been ranked top UK city for residential investment as a trade body accuses the council of flawed policies that will fail to achieve its targets on providing new homes.

The capital pushed Cambridge into second place in Colliers’ latest Top UK Residential Investment Cities report.

This was because of Edinburgh’s solid house price growth, highly educated residents and expected population growth.

Douglas McPhail, director and head of Scotland at Colliers, said these factors, along with its world heritage status and vibrant cultural activities, helped drive up house prices and rental yields and therefore made it attractive to residential investors.

His comments coincide with trade body Homes for Scotland expressing “serious concerns” that the council’s proposed City Plan will fail to deliver the much-needed homes of all tenures that Edinburgh requires.

In its response to a consultation exercise, HFS says the council has set a housing supply target that “is only likely to deliver about half of the homes the council is suggesting”.

It notes what it calls the “high risk” nature of the council’s brownfield-only approach to allocating new sites for residential development, many of which are in active employment use.

It adds that “restrictive, inconsistent and contradictory policies” make the goal of ensuring enough homes to meet the wide-ranging needs of Edinburgh’s population “impossible to achieve”.

Highlighting the further negative impact that this will have on Edinburgh’s well-documented housing affordability crisis, HFS director of planning Tammy Swift-Adams said: “Edinburgh’s City Plan should be founded on a strong understanding of housing need and demand in the city, with the most sustainable and deliverable sites identified to meet that need and demand.

“Instead, it appears to be based on an ideological desire not to release any further greenfield land for housing, irrespective of the implications that will have.

“This has resulted in significant amounts of brownfield land currently in productive use by Edinburgh businesses being earmarked for housing, with little consideration of the disruption this will cause for those businesses and no guarantees that the land will actually become available for new homes.

“Even if the council was ready and willing to go ahead with an unprecedented and very costly programme of buying up this land and relocating the businesses that are currently using it (something the council has not proven), it would not be possible to build the number of homes on these sites that the council is claiming within the plan period.

“The practical implications of the council’s preferred strategy are just too complex for that.

“It is imperative that councillors fully understand the implications of the policies and sites that are being proposed, including their impact on those in need of a new home in Edinburgh, otherwise housing inequality in the city will continue to grow.”

HFS has urged the council to “fundamentally rethink its strategy before submitting the plan for examination.”

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