Edinburgh plans 16,000 affordable homes

Thousands of homes will be built in the Capital over the next ten years. Picture: PA
Thousands of homes will be built in the Capital over the next ten years. Picture: PA
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HOUSEBUILDING in the city could reach a 40-year high under ambitious plans to construct 16,000 affordable homes across the Capital in the next decade.

A masterplan outlining the council’s strategy to ramp up development, encourage investment and create up to 20,000 construction jobs – with 2000 traineeships – is set to be debated on Tuesday at City Chambers.

Ricky Henderson, the city’s housing convener, said the business case could “kick-start the largest programme of housing building seen in the Capital since Wester Hailes was built in the 1970s”.

About £2 billion of investment is required to hit the 16,000-home target which would see 4000 council properties added to the local authority’s housing stock.

The plan includes:

• Making better use of council-owned land for housing;

• Increasing private and public sector investment;

• Employing new investment from pension funds and public sector bodies;

• Using Scottish Government capital subsidy to maximise loan investment.

It is understood suburbs earmarked for potential housebuilding include Craigmillar and north Edinburgh. Funding would be generated from sources including Scottish Government grants – estimated at £250 million – council borrowing and private finance.

Councillor Cammy Day said: “Council money will be used towards the building of the 4000 affordable homes and also to encourage developers to take part in the construction of the rest of the new properties.

“Many developers are unwilling to take risks in the current financial climate, but when they see we are taking the lead they are more likely to be encouraged to come on board.”
The housebuilding industry had slowed since the economic downturn in 2008, said Cllr Henderson, but the business case – which has to go out to consultation – included a strategy to overcome some of the obstacles.

He said: “This isn’t a single project that will stand and fall by a single element. It will be broken up into little chunks and we will approve each one as we go. If any site runs into difficulties that is not going to impede progress with the rest of the schemes.”

Cllr Day said the development would be the equivalent of building all the way from Granton to Muirhouse, effectively creating a new council ward.

“We as a council need to prioritise areas of in need of regeneration, like Craigmillar and the north of Edinburgh. I would like to see a substantial number of these homes built in those areas.”

Gordon MacRae, head of communications and policy at Shelter Scotland, said the council’s ten-year blueprint was “welcome recognition” that the city was in the “midst of a housing crisis”.

He added: “With 25,548 families and individuals on the waiting list for a home in the city, the business plans outlined are a step in the right direction.

“However, building a business case is not the same as building homes. The real test will be the number of completions achieved and the number of families and individuals given the keys to a safe and secure home.”