Three decades and a £10m legacy to the city as EDI ends

Three decades and a �10m legacy to the city as EDI ends.
Three decades and a �10m legacy to the city as EDI ends.
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They count the regeneration of Craigmillar and investment in communities across South Gyle and Leith as success stories in a £10 million legacy starting 30 years ago.

As Edinburgh Council’s arms-length development company the EDI Group comes closer to winding down for good, the Evening News takes a look back at three decades of changes made to the city.

Set up in 1988 to build Edinburgh Park, the EDI Group celebrated its 30th anniversary in May. Outgoing financial director Eric Adair said it would be a bittersweet moment when the firm’s final project was unveiled.

“It will be bittersweet when the scaffolding comes down on the new hotel on Market Street, probably just days after we have all departed the company,” he said. “One of the city’s notorious gap sites will at last have gone and been replaced by a striking building that adds to the architectural quality of the Old Town.”

Mr Adair said the group was especially proud of maintaining an ethos of putting people at the heart of their projects, particularly in Craigmillar.

“I think everyone involved in EDI, past and present, will have strong emotions as we close the door this week,” he said.

“There are so many successes to reflect on, but lots of sadness over the projects we still wanted to see through. EDI was set up to take forward the vision for a business park in Edinburgh and that still remains a key part of business life of the city. But even then the vision was much more than building just offices. It was about creating a natural environment that would make it a pleasurable place to work. Typical of EDI’s approach, trees were planted before the first building was constructed.

“It’s fashionable for businesses to claim they’re passionate about what they do, but it is true of EDI. I joined the company when the then CEO, Ian Wall, explained to me that good property development isn’t primarily about stylish buildings or profit, but more about people benefiting from the buildings created.

“That’s why I’m very proud of what we have achieved in Craigmillar – two new primary schools, 1,300 homes occupied or underway, new offices with over 350 jobs and new shops.

“We are all a bit frustrated that we haven’t got the green space and parks that the area needs completed, but I am looking forward to seeing the new high school and town square as these will bring a sense of completion. There are so many places across the city where our influence and ethos can be seen – Ratho, South Gyle, a range of buildings around the Tron and Parliament Square and in Craigmillar.”

A proposal for 1330 new homes, including more than 300 of them affordable, at New Brunstane was approved last year. The development will provide a family-focused neighbourhood complete with a local centre and new primary school. More recently, EDI has provided land on a fixed-term basis for the Social Bite village in Granton.

Mr Adair said: “I’m glad we can do more than look back and I’m confident that Brunstane will in the next ten years become one of the most desirable places to live in Edinburgh.

“EDI’s vision has been to create inspirational spaces for workers, residents and visitors. I believe we have achieved that and the success will be enjoyed for decades to come.”

EDI says the council can expect a repayment of its share capital of £8.5m on top of a £10m dividend over the next five years, despite EDI making a loss before tax of £4.2m last year compared to a profit of £600,000 in 2016.

Board chair Lezley Marion Cameron said: “There can be no doubt that the establishment, existence and excellence of EDI has contributed to making Edinburgh a finer and fairer place to live and work and has fulfilled the vision of our founders.”