As an Edinburgh resident for 23 years, it was unfortunately no surprise to see Aberdeen and Inverurie overtake the Scottish capital in last week’s Hot Housing Index as the most desirable locations to invest in residential property across the UK, based on value for money (06.09.19).
Edinburgh’s fall to third place is not unexpected – the city’s property prices have historically remained strong due to the presence of the financial industry, and more recently the digital and data sector, large student population, excellent private and public schools and huge demand for short-term Airbnb-type lets.
Building new housing can be challenging given the city’s heritage, conservation areas and limitations created by the struggling road network that supports the compact city. This has contributed to Edinburgh’s status as the least affordable private market in Scotland, with average prices over six times average earnings and rents increasing 42% since 2011.
With significant population growth forecast in Edinburgh – 28% versus a Scottish average of 9% – housebuilding across a mix of tenures is essential. Quality affordable and mid-market rent properties need to be built alongside new low-cost and high-end homes for sale.
However, the City of Edinburgh Council is a progressive authority. It is continually reviewing its infrastructure – investing in new public transport such as the new tram – while also being one of the few councils seeking to minimise car usage with maximum parking standards (like London) alongside a pipeline of more ambitious pedestrian-focused projects for the city centre.
In addition, the council has balanced significant housing targets, including delivering 20,000 new affordable homes over 10 years, with the cost of quality builds to ensure new development is sustainable, healthy and environmentally friendly and creates desirable places to live.
Targeted regeneration in nearby areas previously associated with social and economic challenges, like Leith, Craigmillar and Pennywell, have seen major improvements in quality housing delivery across tenures to help satisfy the demand at all income levels and will help support the city’s continued reputation as a world-class place to live.
Stuart Bishop, architectural director, Barton Willmore