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£1.3 billion boost for south-east Scotland in Edinburgh City Region Deal

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A concert hall and thousands of new homes could be created after Westminster and Holyrood agreed a funding package to boost economic growth in the Edinburgh City Region

Prime minister Theresa May and Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon signed off the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region deal on Tuesday.

Working with councils representing the Scottish capital plus East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, the Scottish Borders and Fife, the national governments will invest towards the £1.3 billion package.

The Scottish Government said its investment would contribute towards 41,000 new homes and create a new housing company.  

Other plans likely to benefit are David Chipperfield’s competition-winning proposal for a new home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (pictured).

Edinburgh Festivals will receive £5 million over the next five years to fund the Platforms for Creative Excellence programme, which supports innovative programming and skills development opportunities across 11 major festivals between 2018 and 2023.

Sturgeon said: ‘Edinburgh and the South East of Scotland is an area of huge importance to the Scottish economy.  The region contains over a quarter of Scotland’s population and contributes £33 billion to the Scottish and UK economies.

’Our investments will ensure businesses and communities from across the region benefit from the opportunities created by this city region deal.’

May said: ‘These city deals build on existing strengths to open up new possibilities for the future in Scotland and the whole of the UK as part of our modern industrial strategy.

‘As we leave the EU, the UK government is working in partnership with business, academia and the devolved administrations to create more good jobs and spread economic prosperity across the country.’

Comment

Malcolm Fraser, director at Edinburgh-based Halliday Fraser Munro

The £1.3 billion deal spreads support across several key sectors with a realistic vision at its heart: of Edinburgh as a vibrant tech hub, which ties in well with its university, research and cultural strengths. But there’s also recognition that there are huge problems with housing and the city’s deprived northern foreshore: hence the housing initiatives, with pump-priming for public leadership and new investment models, which will need to be matched with partnership working with key public agencies such as the NHS and MoD, and new financial leverage to be provided by national initiatives in land reform.

There’s recognition of the huge problems with housing and the city’s deprived northern foreshore

Missing is a wider vision of what the city wants to be – an ongoing 2050 City Vision initiative has gone quiet, though transport and placemaking initiatives continue. The wider question of transport infrastructure is missing from the City Deal – roundabout improvements hardly inspire and the necessary completion and extension of the tram should have anchored the deal but has presumably been sidelined by one of the governments.

And culture may well have been sidelined too – the comparative crumb for Chipperfield’s concert venue is not much against the existential Brexit threat warned of by Fringe director Fergus Linehan.

The city needs, and is pushing for, a tourist tax to be ring-fenced for investment in its cultural venues. 

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