Comment: 2014 will be a year of change for the city

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A New Year and there is much to look forward to in 2014 for Edinburgh and the Lothians.

The independence referendum, the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup will understandably grab national headlines, but the effects of all three will be felt in Scotland’s Capital.

But for the city itself, 2014 will be a year of change as the economy begins to pick up and confidence returns.

The trams will finally be operational in the spring and alongside it a major PR campaign to convince the people of Edinburgh that all the expense and pain has been worthwhile. The latter part of the year will see attention turn to a public inquiry into the fiasco.

Amid all this, there are likely to be fresh calls from some to extend the line to Leith.

Princes Street will also see change with the long-awaited opening of the city’s first Apple store, while a decision on the future of the St James Centre is expected. George Street will see a trial on partial pedestrianisation begin.

The Old Town has the SoCo redevelopment to shout about, more than ten years after fire devastated the Cowgate. New bars and restaurants will be open for business in the first half of the year.

And close by, we should hear further concrete plans for the stalled £150 million Caltongate development which will include offices, retail, homes and two Premier Inn hotels.

All of this comes at a time when the Capital’s population is growing.

While this is welcome, it will place additional strain on schools, hospitals and other public services at a time when our councils are cash-strapped. Rents and property prices are also likely to be on an upward spiral.

This year will be a major challenge, but one which should see much positive change and opportunity for the region. Happy New Year.