Building New Futures: maybe this time?

Posted on 01/10/2014 by


Regeneration’s back on the agenda as conference hears of ‘growing optimism’

Pic Collage Regen

It was one of Europe’s most ambitious regeneration programmes – an opportunity to clean up a massive brownfield site, create new communities and link Edinburgh’s city centre with the sea. Hotels, new homes, schools and small businesses were to be built on the old industrial waterfront, all served by a modern, efficient tram network. There was even talk of a floating island – but then came the recession … 

That was six years ago, but the economy is recovering at last and there’s growing optimism that Edinburgh’s waterfront can now fulfil it’s undoubted potential.

Forth Neighbourhood Partnership and local community councils organised a community conference at Edinburgh College on Granton’s waterfront last weekend to inform local residents about what’s happening now and what plans are in place to regenerate the waterfront area. Around sixty delegates attended the ‘Buiding New Futures’ event and heard speakers outline plans that could see North Edinburgh transformed over the coming years.

It’s well known that Edinburgh has a severe housing shortage, and with growing pressure on Edinburgh’s cherished green belt the opportunity to build new homes on brownfield sites must be seized. Speakers from National Grid and the city council outlined plans to build thousands of new homes along the waterfront, and highlighted prospects of local employment opportunities as the regeneration gathers momentum.

21 C homes landing pageA major house building initiative is already well underway in the area: as part of the 21st Century Homes programme, the Council is about to let their first new homes in a generation. Work is also underway on the former Craigroyston High School site which will form the first phase of plans to build over 700 new homes for sale and rent over the next eight to ten years in Pennywell and Muirhouse.

People living in these new homes will need services, of course, and health provision in the area is already under strain. NHS Lothian Partnership Development Manager Steven Whitton outlined the latest plans for a major new health facility, the North West Edinburgh Partnership Centre – that’s only a working title, mind, there’s got to be a catchier name than that!

o0521 3113 EDIN PART 2 (2)The £12m Centre in Pennywell (above) will focus on child health and family support services and will house a new GP surgery, community nursing and midwifery services, dentistry, podiatry, physiotherapy and child health services. The centre will also provide facilities for social work and some voluntary sector organisations and is expected to open in September 2016.

Given the sheer scale of the regeneration project – the many different elements of the area’s development and the number of partner organisations involved – it was impossible to cover all aspects in minute detail, but the conference provided a timely update to local residents and Forth Neighbourhood Partnership plans to work with the local community councils to ensure that neighbourhoods are kept informed and involved as work progresses.


Forth Neighbourhood Partnership’s chairperson Councillor Cammy Day (pictured above) said: “I was pleased to see a great turnout at the event, and the diverse groups of people who are keen to take part in shaping their new and existing neighbourhoods.

“The conference provided a fantastic opportunity for the community to get to know more about regeneration taking place and to meet with key landowners and developers.  This is not just about much-needed affordable homes, but the creation of jobs and training opportunities, leisure facilities and attracting investment into this area.

“This event isn’t a one-off either, I will be establishing a local development group where the community, council, developers and landowners in Granton Waterfront can get around the table, discuss plans at an early stage to shape and influence proposals, where possible, to meet our needs. It was a great start to what I hope will be a long-term partnership between the community and all those involved in regenerating this part of North Edinburgh.”

West Pilton & West Granton community councillor Willie Black, who was involved in organising the event, said: “The conference gave the community the opportunity to hear all the major players outline their plans for the regeneration of the waterfront and beyond – and to have their say. Everyone who was there though it was useful, but where now? A new regeneration forum group is to be set up and over the next few weeks community organisations will be invited to join and help build on the conference.”

Granton Improvement Society’s Barbara Robertson said: “Our stall attracted a lot of interest, particularly in the proposed Garden Festival and artisans’ village, and we’re pleased Cammy supports our project and wants to see it included in the area’s regeneration. The success of the conference showed the enthusiasm of the community to be involved in planning the regeneration of their area and paved the way for a new forum for the community to have their say.”

25Some cynics will say ‘we’ve heard it all before’, but what about the next generation? Members of North Edinburgh’s Young People’s Forum attended the event and their feedback was very positive. Among their comments: ‘Feels like most of us if not all of us now know more about what is happening in the area’, ‘it’d be great to have more events like this to feed back on plans and what has been done’ and ‘feel more involved in what is happening and with what is going on in the area’. One suggested: ‘it would be good to say what has been done in relation to what the community has asked for – like a ‘you said – we did’ kind of thing’. Oh, and not so many big words next time please!

Building New Futures? Maybe this time …