I am immensely proud of how Jansons has been able to deliver a high-quality development that restores and improves the site of the 2002 Cowgate fire.
The fire left lasting damage to an important area of the city’s traditional Old Town, and it has been a long haul to get the site restored in a way that regenerates the city centre and brings new life and visitors to South Bridge and Cowgate.
However, you can’t talk about a development in Edinburgh without first talking about the city itself. That Edinburgh is a beautiful city is well known, but what is perhaps not always appreciated is that the city is a fantastic opportunity for investment as well. Not only is the city an international icon, it also has a highly educated workforce and one of the strongest tourism markets in Europe.
But there’s so much more that the city has to offer as a tourism destination. Thirty thousand jobs in the Edinburgh area depend on tourism, so investment matters very directly for Edinburgh residents and their families in terms of jobs and paychecks. There aren’t any truly successful city economies in the world that don’t have a strong tourism base, and Edinburgh’s is stronger than most.
Being used to working in London – itself a fantastic world capital city, I can say that there are also some advantages Edinburgh has even over London. We have had exemplary support and encouragement from city authorities, and from the private sector – especially the Chamber of Commerce. And although there is always a debate about heritage in Edinburgh, we found the heritage groups to be approachable and willing to listen. Indeed, we ensured that a key feature of the development had options, so that the planning committee had the choice of picking what it felt was the best choice for Edinburgh.
It is often said that visitors to Edinburgh can at times be more ready to love and admire the city. I can say that I have certainly come to love Edinburgh as a visitor, but more than that I think I see Edinburgh as a city with a fantastic future, as well as a great past.
Beautiful streetscapes and smart people make for a powerful combination. Tourism may not be the most glamorous of industries, but it helps build strong and sustainable economies. And with millions of aspiring Chinese and Asian people set to go exploring the world over the next few decades, there is potential for tourism to grow much, much more.
Edinburgh is a fantastic city, and I do feel genuinely proud that we have been able to help regenerate one important part of it.
And the Old Town is an area that has so much more to offer than simply pubs and clubs. Edinburgh is a truly world-class capital.
I believe we have shown that with goodwill, there need not always be a conflict between heritage and economic growth.
• Andy Jansons is managing director of Jansons Property