living in Edinburgh is becoming a pretty expensive business, especially for those who want to own their own home. The average house price continues to stick subbornly above £200,000, leaving many families with no option but to move out to Fife and the Lothians.
If we do not address our chronic housing shortage, then the problem is only going to get worse, as the city’s population is expected to grow in the coming years.
It is estimated that as many as 71,000 new homes will be needed in and around the Capital in the next two decades in order to meet demand. That is an absolutely enormous figure.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that one of the most obvious answers – building homes on the Waterfront – is not working.
Much of the land is now tied up by banks who hold bad debt and are proving reluctant to release it or being earmarked to house new ventures supporting Scotland’s emerging green energy industries.
If we are to get even close to meeting the growing demand for housing, then we need to start thinking big. Dozens of relatively small housing developments, in Gilmerton, Cammo, and so on, will come nowhere near doing it on their own.
So where should all these new homes go? Do we build the lion’s share in and around “commuter” towns like Dalkeith, Dunfermline, Livingston and Haddington? Or create whole new towns in the countryside?
Do we put some of them close to where people work and existing transport networks on current green belt land in west Edinburgh, as Sir David Murray proposes?
What the city needs is a clear vision of how we can meet these demands in a sustainable way, creating real communities which complement existing ones and where residents can, whenever possible, use public transport rather than clogging up our roads even more.