The tug of war over Edinburgh’s redevelopment

The former Boroughmuir High School will be exclusively sold to a group of Hong Kong investors before Edinburgh locals have the chance to snap up the very limited amount of flats.

Edinburgh residents looking to buy have been told they must wait until January to have a chance of purchasing one of the homes, however potential Hong Kong buyers have already been given a “very limited selection” according to the developer CALA Homes. The prospective South East Asian customers are said to include several investors who have already begun to purchase properties.

Hopeful buyers have called the sale, “immoral” and “upsetting”. This feeling that has been echoed throughout the city, and, as a result, multiple campaign groups have formed to stand against private companies changing Edinburgh’s landscape. They also want to put pressure on the council to limit the amount of alterations to the capital’s historic image.

Despite investors seemingly having a good deal of control over the redevelopment of certain areas, many Edinburgh locals are having their say about how their city will look heading into the next decade to ensure that the Scottish capital is not negatively affected by outsider business and redevelopment.

Save Iona Street, a campaign group who oppose the demolition of Thornhill Woodmill in Leith, have said that replacing the old mill with student accommodation would cause problems for current and future residents as well as the existing buildings.

“We want a development that welcomes everyone, including students, and believe this is best achieved by mixed-use housing only – not dedicated student accommodation, but primarily affordable and social housing,” they said.

“Only 25% of residential housing in the current proposal is set aside for affordable housing.

“Numbers 21-71 on the north side of Iona Street are part of the Leith Conservation area. The proposed development will dramatically reduce the light levels available to these properties, as well as fundamentally changing the look and feel of this section of Iona Street, which is within a conservation area.”

This year, foreign investment in Scotland reached an all-time high, with £575 million been invested in the first six months alone.

The issue of Edinburgh becoming a more modern city is a polarising debate, and as long as the council continue to continue to allow more overseas funding to head projects, it will continue to be a constant thorn in their side.

Although pressure groups are managing to mobilise large groups of people, in their tens of thousands in the case of Save Leith Walk, the vast global influence of the investors has been too lucrative for the Council and the Scottish Government to turn down.

Buildings like Thornhill Woodmill and the old Boroughmuir High School have dominated the city’s skyline for the last hundred years but with the change to it already well underway, more is likely inevitable.


  1. Oldtowngirl says:

    You might want to also look at the Kings StablesRoad development by Peveril Securities – two blocks granted as residential, one student, one aparthotel. But one of the two residential blocks never on sale to public as far as I can see, and every single flat in it apparently sold as a block to the aparthotel operators presumably to be used as hotel rooms. Dont know if its legal planning wise? but must surely have been planned? Makes the development much less mixed and balanced than was promised.

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