City of Edinburgh Council unlocking capital investment opportunities

The City of Edinburgh Council is the city’s largest landowner and the proprietor of a number of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings. Its estate includes a large number of aged buildings, with over a quarter of Council properties built prior to 1919. One of the objectives of the Council’s Corporate Asset Strategy is to deliver a smaller and better quality estate. Through the judicious release of surplus land and property, the Council is unlocking new development opportunities in Edinburgh.

Attending MIPIM UK, in London provides a proven platform for Edinburgh to present our investment opportunities to a wide range of investors from across the UK, Europe and beyond. The knowledge exchange is excellent – it is beneficial to see how sites and propositions are developing elsewhere, in particular in terms of sustainable development and alternative funding models. London is a key market for us, and a key source of investment into Edinburgh.


Unlocking development

A number of listed buildings have recently been sold for redevelopment, including the India Buildings (which Jansons plans to convert into a four star hotel), the former Boroughmuir High School (which is being sold to Cala Homes for redevelopment into 100 apartments) and 1 Cockburn Street (which will provide a new home for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo). The Council has also agreed to grant a long lease on the Royal High School (which Duddingston House Properties aims to refurbish as a world-class hotel) and Castle Mill Works (which Edinburgh Printmakers plans to restore as a new arts hub). These transactions will secure the long-term futures of the historic buildings, draw millions of pounds of investment into Edinburgh and create hundreds of new jobs.

Strategic facilitation

The Council has also facilitated some of the most strategically important developments in Edinburgh by combining its assets with those of key landholders – unlocking flagship developments such as New Waverley and Edinburgh St James – and brought to the market gap sites in strategically important locations at King’s Stables Road and Torphichen Street. These deals have already attracted numerous inward investors to the capital and will deliver hundreds of new homes along with new offices, hotels, and retail and leisure units.
At MIPIM UK Elaine Ballantyne, Head of Investor Support at the City of Edinburgh Council will be showcasing Edinburgh‘s offer to investors as part of the conference programme “Investors’ into Cities” Forum which is taking place from 14.00 – 15:00 on Wednesday 21st October in the Club Room at Kensington, Olympia.


Speculate to accumulate

Using its formidable property portfolio to leverage private investment into Edinburgh, the Council is itself increasingly playing a greater role in the development of the capital.
Having taken the bold decision during the recession in 2010 to undertake a major speculative commercial development to cross fund the cost of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) expansion, Atria the Council’s landmark, award-winning office development is now on the market for sale. Atria provides much needed Grade-A office space and gives the city a competitive advantage in attracting new and retaining existing businesses. With a highly impressive tenant list including PwC, Brewin Dolphin, IBM, AON, Alliance Trust and the Lothian Pension Fund, Atria has been a highly successful development for the Council.


Inspiring capital

In addition, building on the success of the 21st Century Homes housebuilding programme, the proposed “Edinburgh Homes” project would see the Council create an arm’s length company charged with delivering 1,500 new rental homes each year. Meanwhile, the newly-created City Strategic Investment Fund is providing capital for projects to help grow the city’s economy, beginning with the £2m East Hermiston Business Park, a speculative development which will deliver 1,600m2 of high-quality industrial units. Finally, the mooted £1bn City Deal would give the city and its regional partners the powers and resources needed to undertake strategic investments in vital enabling infrastructure.
Through initiatives such as these, the Council is helping establish Edinburgh as a global hotspot for property investment. To discover more about some of the key development opportunities in Scotland’s Inspiring Capital visit the Edinburgh team at MIPIM UK on the Scottish Cities Alliance Stand C31-D30 (21-23 October, 2015).

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About Author

Andrew Kerr

Andrew Kerr took up post as Chief Executive of the City of Edinburgh Council on 27 July 2015. He was previously Chief Executive of Cornwall, Wiltshire and North Tyneside councils, and Chief Operating Officer in Cardiff. A former international athlete, Andrew’s professional background is in Leisure and Sport and he was Director of Leisure and Culture at Birmingham Council (2000/2004) and Head of Participation at Sports Council for Wales for six years. Known for his work on Social capital, with an interest in developing communities, a reputation for his approach to change management and large scale joint ventures for economic benefit, he is one of the most experienced local government leaders working today.

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