Work starts on new multi-million-pound Edinburgh PBSA development following contractor appointment

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Property development company, S Harrison, has appointed longstanding Scottish construction company, Thomas Johnstone Ltd, to build a new purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) scheme just off Newington Road in Edinburgh, with work starting this month.

The development, on East Newington Place, has seen an old, disused commercial unit demolished and construction will start in late June on a modern, energy-efficient four storey building with 65 studio rooms. There will also be a multimedia room, gym, break out space, cycle storage and open courtyard.

The scheme has been designed with superb sustainability credentials and it will be heated using air source heat pumps rather than gas, which will give it an EPC rating of A.

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East Newington Place is located within easy walking distance of the main city centre campus of the University of Edinburgh as well as benefitting from all the local area’s amenities. Work on the development will complete in autumn 2025.

A CGI showing how the new development will lookA CGI showing how the new development will look
A CGI showing how the new development will look

David Clancy, from S Harrison, said: “We’re very pleased to appoint a reputable and longstanding local contractor on this project, which will give a brownfield site in a popular Conservation Area a new lease of life.

“We’re now looking forward to work starting in June and we’ll continue to work closely with the local community throughout the project to maintain and build on the strong relationships that we worked hard to forge throughout the planning process.”

Thomas Johnstone Ltd, established in 1868, will run the project from its Edinburgh office. Gordon Cameron, regional construction director from Thomas Johnstone said: “With several high quality PBSA schemes in our portfolio, a wealth of experience throughout our 156 years of delivering excellence, and an established supply chain in the local area, this contract plays to our strengths and we’re excited to get started.”

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Earlier this year S Harrison agreed a forward funding deal with Singapore headquartered Q Investment Partners (QIP) to deliver the East Newington Place scheme, along with a second 76-bedroom PBSA development in the historic surroundings of Canongate, just behind the Royal Mile, which will complete in time for the start of the 2026 academic year.

James Coppack of QIP Development Group, said: “We are pleased to be adding another asset to our UKPBSA portfolio in collaboration with our capital partner ARES Management. QIP DG have been working closely with S Harrison across multiple schemes over the last 12 months to further enhance our product offering in UKPBSA, and this project represents our fourth asset within the Edinburgh submarket.”

The QIP Development Group forms part of QIP’s vertically integrated real estate platform and their UK team continues to expand its domestic footprint through forward fund and joint venture development projects.

QIP is a global leader in purpose-built residential real estate. As a fully integrated platform, QIP creates best-in-class living assets including PBSA and multi-family housing. The company invests in developed markets across the globe such as the UK, US and Japan, and currently manages approximately 2,200 beds across tier-1 student cities.

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S Harrison has successfully delivered numerous PBSA schemes in Edinburgh, York and Leeds totalling thousands of bedrooms. The company has made a substantial investment in Edinburgh in recent years and this summer will also start work transforming a 1970s office building in the Haymarket area into a stunning new hotel for international hotel operator MEININGER. S Harrison will hold the completed investment, further strengthening the company’s property portfolio.

In addition, the planning committee recently confirmed they are minded to grant planning consent for a major new £80 million mixed-use development in a prime waterfront location in Leith. The development, known as Ocean Point 2, will comprise of residential and PBSA, along with commercial, co-working and amenity space.

The redevelopment of the brownfield site will be spread across two buildings and will include 112 build-to-rent homes (BTR), ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments specifically for families, alongside 404-student bedrooms. In addition, the commercial space, co-working areas and amenity space will offer an attractive frontage onto Ocean Drive, as well as greatly enhancing the public realm.

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