We're building smart new homes to face city challenge - Jane Meagher

After a slowdown during the pandemic, it’s great to see so much work underway to build the new affordable and sustainable homes our growing city needs.

Jane Meagher, Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener, at a new development in Granton
Jane Meagher, Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener, at a new development in Granton

Last week I had the pleasure of marking the site start for our newest housing development – Western Villages at the new Granton Waterfront. Spanning a site the same size as the New Town, this regeneration of the waterfront really is going to create a brand new coastal community.

This is growth which will benefit those who already live in the area and the city as a whole and I have to say, it’s incredible to watch the start of construction. There is a team of people working extremely hard so that, over the next decade, we’ll see drastic change and thousands of people move into beautiful new homes. They will join a 20-minute neighbourhood where they can shop, socialise, and access support. With our partners we’re investing millions in the area, including the fantastic gas works holder, which will become an amazing spectacle; a home for events and a glowing beacon for North Edinburgh below everyone who flies into the city.

I am strongly committed to doing what I can to secure more affordable homes for Edinburgh. Over 150 households bid for every Council and housing association home that becomes available so that’s why we’re driving forward with building new affordable homes on sites across the city. Close to Granton, in nearby Pennywell and Muirhouse, new homes and a new civic centre are taking shape. We’re also investing in improving existing homes with major works underway in both multi storey blocks and low-rise housing.

As the city grows, the demand we are seeing for affordable and social homes is only going to increase. That is a reality we must face, not least with the country in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis and fears of recession on the horizon. It’s why it’s critical the Council and its partners press ahead with a truly ambitious and forward-thinking housebuilding strategy and it’s why we must continue to make the case for increased investment in this programme to the Scottish Government. Our capital city, after all, is per head the lowest funded local authority in Scotland.

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The way we’re building homes is also changing, with innovative measures being used to reduce energy. Western Villages is a great example of that, as Scotland’s largest net zero development. We want the whole city to become net zero carbon by 2030 so we are committing to ‘build smarter’ and create new homes which are greener and use eco-friendly technology. This construction work is also helping to boost and create new jobs and apprenticeships which will further help us to support people into employment and keep our economy resilient, which is particularly significant after the impacts of Covid.

The future is challenging, but together with developers and others we are doing everything within our powers to make it fairer on residents and on our environment. We’ll keep working to tackle our housing pressures and deliver these affordable and sustainable new homes.

Jane Meagher is Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener