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Edinburgh region city deal signed off

Words: Roger Milne
Edinburgh / iStock_000013471580

Edinburgh and south-east Scotland’s long-awaited £1 billion city deal has finally been signed off after a last-minute round of meetings averted fears that the agreement might fall through.

The UK and Scottish Governments are each contributing £300 million. Around £200 million is coming from the region’s universities and includes funding from the six local authorities involved (City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian).

The deal features five innovation hubs, including research into space, health sciences, agri-tech, and food and drink, linked to Heriot-Watt, Queen Margaret and Edinburgh universities, the Roslin Institute, and the UK’s National Supercomputer Centre at Easter Bush.

Also involved is a £50 million development fund to accelerate private housebuilding in areas such as Granton waterfront and £15 million to set up a homes company for the capital, which should leverage up to £250 million borrowing to expand housebuilding.

The deal includes funding for a 1,000-seater concert hall and around £20 million for roads in West Edinburgh to help deal with congestion around large new housing developments.

City of Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey said: "I am delighted that this ambitious deal for the region has now been agreed, creating up to 21,000 new jobs.

"This will allow us to transform the area delivering high-quality jobs, housing, critical infrastructure, a new skills programme, and a world-class concert hall.”

Scotland’s economy secretary Keith Brown said: “Taken together, these projects will help the region continue to thrive and grow, fulfilling our ambitions for it to be one of the fairest and most inclusive areas in the country.”

RTPI Scotland director Craig McLaren said that successful city deals were more likely to happen where a spatial strategy was in place to direct resources where they are most needed. “City Region Deals have the potential to transform our cities and towns and so the investment to be provided through them is to be welcomed," he said. "However, if they are to achieve transformational change the projects they promote need to complement one another and be taken forward in the context of a clear strategy setting out short, medium and long term ambitions.

McLaren continued: "Given this, it is vital that spatial planning informs and is informed by wider investment plans for infrastructure, development and skills. The current review of the planning system – and in particular proposals to review approaches to strategic planning - provides an opportunity to ensure this happens.”

Edinburgh’s is the fourth city deal to be agreed in Scotland after Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness.

Image credit | iStock