Edinburgh is a hugely successful city which is expected to grow by about ten per cent in the next decade.
The Capital also continues to be the most prosperous UK city outside London and the percentage of our workforce with a degree level qualification or equivalent is higher than any other major UK city.
While it is important that Edinburgh and its economy continue to grow, we need to plan carefully and strategically for this change to ensure that we retain and enhance Edinburgh’s built and natural assets for future generations.
We adopted a new city plan for this growth last month, the Edinburgh Local Development Plan, and I would like to thank the thousands of you who helped to shape it. We also have an online survey to gather your views on what you thought of the process so we can prepare for the next Plan.
How the Local Development Plan is now delivered is of central importance to us and we will use it to provide a clear and fair basis for planning decisions. I believe that this, in turn, will give confidence to communities, businesses and investors.
Our priority has to be for houses to be built in the right places connected in the right way and I hope that local residents and community groups also use the Local Development Plan to better understand and get involved in the planning issues affecting their areas.
We have identified land for at least 33,000 homes, prioritising brownfield and regeneration sites where we can. But although we have earmarked enough land for this growth, housing is not being built quickly enough to meet the demand. We are working closely with landowners and developers to identify ways in which building programmes can be accelerated to address this short-term issue.
The type and quality of housing delivered is equally important to allow us to create mixed, integrated communities, where people have a good quality of life.
We are willing to take an interventionist approach where we think housing is not being delivered quickly enough. We would look at where the barriers are and unlock land by resolving local issues.
To deliver this level of growth successfully we have also agreed an Action Programme, which identifies all of the necessary infrastructure required to allow people to get around easily using sustainable transport and have their needs for primary healthcare and education met.
A financial plan for this infrastructure will be discussed by councillors in the New Year. As well as collecting developer contributions we are also working closely with NHS Lothian, Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government to identify innovative funding streams such at the Edinburgh and South East of Scotland City Region Deal and the Scottish Government Housing Infrastructure Fund.
The Local Development Plan has been adopted now and we must focus our efforts on helping to deliver the housing sites to support Edinburgh’s growth and build sustainable communities as well as protecting the city’s unique heritage and environment.