THE Capital’s growing population means a constant need for more homes – and that puts the twin issues of housing and planning right at the top of many people’s concerns.
Labour goes into the election with a manifesto pledge to deliver a minimum of 16,000 low-cost homes for rent or sale over the next ten years and seek more power from the Scottish Government to decide the extent of the city’s greenbelt.
The SNP promises 20,000 new social and affordable homes over the next ten years and says it would prioritise bringing empty homes back into use and seek to strengthen the council’s ability to direct
development on brownfield sites. Labour also says it would campaign for communities to have a right of appeal on planning decisions and the SNP too say they would work with the Scottish Government to explore changes to the appeal process.
The Conservatives say they would prioritise different sizes and types of property and ownership and trial self-build serviced housing plots.
The Greens, meanwhile, would argue for an end to development in the greenbelt and ensure developers delivered a new target of 30 per cent
They also propose dedicated staff to bring empty homes back into use, say they would work with tenants to keep council rents affordable and want to declare the whole of Edinburgh a Rent Pressure Zone so private rents can be regulated.
The Lib Dems say where possible they would ensure brownfield sites were developed first and that in major planning decisions, provision of amenities like GP surgeries and schools were included from the outset.
They also want to “reinvigorate” the city’s homelessness strategy.
Steve Burgess - Green
Edinburgh needs more homes. But almost two-thirds of that new housing need is from people who cannot afford the bloated market prices in the city. That means a radical shift in housing priorities to put affordability right at its heart.
So that means challenging developers to make more homes within new schemes for below-market-price housing; forcing landowners to release hoarded land within the city, and channelling new development towards the brownfield sites which are able to deliver the kind of compact, mixed neighbourhoods where public transport and community services can work well.
It also means upping the role of council housing and housing association building, building at least 16,000 new homes but with several thousands more through a new “Edinburgh Homes” model, offering a cheaper, better quality alternative to private landlords.
With the largest private renting share in Scotland, Greens believe that Edinburgh needs to be first in the queue for the whole city to be declared a “Rent Pressure Zone” early in 2018, ensuring that there is some control over the relentless rise in rents.
More too can be done to bring thousands of empty properties back into use as homes. Green councillors have consistently pushed for a dedicated service to work with owners to get past the barriers which result in empty properties.
Finally, in a wealthy city like Edinburgh, homelessness is shameful. We would bring an end to rip-off bed and breakfast homeless hostels and give homeless people the proper housing and support they need.
Kevin Lang - Lib Dem
Edinburgh faces a shortage of affordable rented homes. Lib Dems leading the council from 2007 to 2012 were proud to build the first new council houses in a generation and will work in partnership with other social landlords to provide more good quality affordable homes in the city.
The city’s homelessness problem has become more visible. We will review and renew the city’s homelessness strategy together with all relevant agencies to ensure homelessness is both prevented and tackled effectively.
The city has a thriving private rented sector, but there has been an increase in short-term or “party” lets in some areas, which can be a problem. Lib Dems will work with the Scottish Government for a better means to regulate this sector.
In planning, wherever possible, Lib Dems will seek to ensure brownfield sites are developed first, with as much protection as possible for our greenbelt and green spaces.
In any new developments we will focus on ensuring that essential services such as GP surgeries, schools and road infrastructure are included from the start, and that any new housing developments complement existing communities and preserve their character as far as possible.
Lib Dems are committed to ensuring that we retain our
World Heritage status but that the city is also able to develop its dynamic and diverse economy. We will aim
to strike a better balance between conservation and development.
Joan Griffiths - Labour
For the last five years, Labour has taken the lead in housing at a time when demand for affordable housing is at an all-time high. Nearly one-third of Edinburgh households now lives in expensive and insecure tenancies in the private rented sector.
Labour has helped more than 5000 households into new homes, all built on brownfield sites, and will deliver a minimum of 16,000 affordable homes for rent and sale over the next ten years.
More than 6500 council tenants have had new kitchens and bathrooms. New windows, heating and insulation have been installed in half of council homes. Labour will continue this programme of modernising kitchens and bathroom and invest in measures to improve energy efficiency in council homes.
We have tackled noisy behaviour from short-term party lets and will continue to work to manage the rapid spread of holiday lets, affecting supply and rent levels in the private rented sector.
Labour recognises there are still individuals and families who do not have a permanent place to call home. We have protected homelessness funding and will continue to help the most vulnerable in our communities.
We are committed to helping disabled and elderly tenants and owners to adapt their existing homes, and to move to more suitable housing should they wish to do so.
Edinburgh is continuing to expand, with housing need far outstripping supply in our fast-growing city. Yet we have made a great deal of progress in the last five years and if the voters put their trust in us, we can build on our achievements for the next five years.
Kate Campbell - SNP
Having a home that is affordable, warm and secure is one of the fundamental building blocks of a happy life. Too often housing costs eat up too much of our income. Too often people are pushed out of insecure tenancies every six months so the landlord can put up the rent, or find themselves in arrears and facing homelessness.
This is not fair and it’s not sustainable. Temporary accommodation costs our council way more than housing benefit for long-term tenancies, while people without permanent homes are often housed in unsuitable conditions which can cause stress, anxiety and depression.
The SNP is standing on a commitment to build 20,000 affordable homes during the next council administration. This is badly needed in Edinburgh, where the private rents are rising quickly. We will also take steps to make sure that families with children are never being housed in unsuitable B&Bs.
We‘re committed to protecting Edinburgh’s World Heritage Status and making sure that the balance of development isn’t weighted towards any one individual use to keep the city centre a diverse place.
We need to find a way of making sure that urban brownfield sites are developed ahead of our greenbelt. An SNP-led council will work with the Scottish Government to find ways of prioritising development in the city to protect the greenbelt as best we can. We’re also committed to enhancing the voice of communities in the planning process itself.
Joanna Mowat - Conservative
In a city that has World Heritage Site status for the quality of its urban planning it is ironic that the most recent Local Development Plan produced was so poor.
The Conservatives voted to reject it because we are concerned that what has been agreed will damage what makes Edinburgh a special place to live. In order to protect what we value we need to think differently about what type of housing is appropriate in a growing city. We only need to look to our forebears to find examples of how to plan great places and deliver different types and sizes of housing rather than variations of a couple of standard houses.
The housing market is suffering from lack of competition and restricted providers – there are lots of reasons for this. To challenge this and meet the housing targets demanded by the Scottish Government (not important) but required by people needing somewhere to live (very important), we need to introduce new suppliers to the market.
Additional capacity could come from serviced sites for self-builders or small builders and we would look to simplify the planning process for these sites to encourage new communities to build themselves.
Housing is losing out to other more profitable uses in areas such as the city centre. One reason for this is that some other uses do not have to pay certain development contributions. We would designate certain high-pressure areas where contributions for housing would not be taken in order to level the playing field. We also believe it is vital to maintain a residential population in the city centre.