Comment: The biggest problem is the spiralling cost

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The idea of more homes for rent being built in the Capital has to be welcomed no matter where the initiative comes from, the public sector, private developers, or a partnership of both.

The social problems caused by the desperate shortage of decent homes for rent in Edinburgh – from families being forced to move further and further from the city to find somewhere they can afford to our hospitals struggling to recruit staff partly because the cost of living in the city is so high – have been catalogued many times in the pages of this newspaper.

The biggest problem for most is the spiralling cost and the recent dramatic rent rises in the private sector are driven by a problem of supply and demand.

So the council’s plans to attract private investors to pay for the building of more homes which the local authority will then manage will help to address one of the roots of that problem.

The 1000 homes a year proposed is a small step compared to what is needed but it is still a substantial contribution.

There are concerns that if the council do not handle this project carefully it could have the negative effect of driving away private landlords who are willing to invest their money in providing more homes for rent. These will have to be addressed, but are not insurmountable.

Yet it is hard to escape the feeling that it is odd for the council to be stepping in to the housing market in this way when there are private housebuilders queuing up to build in the Capital.

All that is holding many of them back is the lack of a credible local development plan telling them what land they can and cannot build on in and around the city.

The council as social landlord might be a fair idea, but what is far better – and likely to produce far bigger results - is the council getting its own house in order and producing a proper development plan.