Edinburgh Council's house-building blueprint could drive jobs out the city. Time for a rethink – John McLellan
An analysis of the development plan by respected independent economic consultant Richard Marsh shows building houses on 400 sites currently occupied by businesses could cost the city some £2.6 billion over ten years, not just from the activity these businesses support but from a loss of business rates which Council Tax won’t cover.
Try as officers might, the study is difficult to ignore because it’s based on work from property consultants Ryden that the council itself commissioned and was included in the background papers to support the plan.
It is true that most businesses will relocate to new sites further afield, but that just adds to service traffic coming into the city and runs counter to the 20-minute neighbourhood principle where everything is on hand by public transport within a 20-minute radius.
Many of these businesses are local services like plumbers, electricians and car engineers and, as not everyone wants to work in financial services or software development, their removal would reduce the diversity of employment opportunities in the inner city.
The irony is that housing developments often come with promises of providing business space without any idea of what will fill them, apart from not being for Swarfega-scrubbed blue collar occupations.
The new report is another good reason for a re-think.