Edinburgh and South East City Region Deal agreement signals green light for £1.3bn investment
Prime Minister Theresa May and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will formally sign off a deal that will bring £1.3 billion worth of investment into the South East of Scotland.
The Scottish Government and the UK government will each invest £300 million over the next 15 years into the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal which aims to deliver inclusive economic growth across the region through housing, innovation, transport, skills and culture. When taken together with contributions from partners, the deal will result in an investment of more than £1.3bn in the economy of the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland region.
The funds will go to scientific research on space, health sciences, agri-tech and food and drink at Heriot-Watt, Queen Margaret and Edinburgh universities.
The deal will also see the creation of five new innovation hubs, including in robotics and space technologies, and a new 1000-seat Edinburgh concert hall.
The Scottish Government’s investment will contribute towards 41,000 new homes, 21,000 jobs and improve the skills of an estimated 14,700 people.
The Scottish Government’s investment in the City Region includes:
- £60m towards a Data Driven Innovation programme of investment, including the creation of economic infrastructure across the region to ensure that businesses and communities across the region are fully able to engage in the resulting opportunities
- £65m towards a regional housing programme, including the creation of a new housing company and housing infrastructure funding to enable the delivery of 41,000 new homes
- £120m for transport improvements to Sheriffhall Roundabout
- £20m for public transport improvements in West Edinburgh
- £25m for an Integrated Regional Employability & Skills Programme to reduce skills shortages and gaps and deliver opportunities for people across Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders
- £10m towards a new concert venue for the city, providing a home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and reinforcing Edinburgh’s reputation as a leading centre for music and the performing arts.
First Minister Nicola 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 £33bn to the Scottish and UK economies.
“The Scottish Government’s £300m investment in the City Region Deal will contribute towards 41,000 new homes, 21,000 jobs and improve the skills of an estimated 14,700 people across the region. Our investments will ensure businesses and communities from across the region benefit from the opportunities created by this the city region deal.
“Taken together these projects will help the region continue to thrive and grow, fulfilling our ambitions for the region to be one of the fairest and most inclusive areas in the country.”
The Prime Minister will also announce £13m in funding for six science hubs across the country, including Dundee and Glasgow Science Centres, to help improve facilities, create new learning activities to help reach audiences and attract thousands of new visitors.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I am pleased to be in Edinburgh today for the city’s annual celebration of the arts and culture. From the Fringe, to the International Festival, festivals dedicated to science, books and storytelling, the city is truly a cultural inspiration for the rest of the UK and the world.
“Alongside the Scottish Government and local partners, I will be confirming £300m, as part of a wider £1bn investment by the UK government through City Deals in Scotland, to create jobs and open up new economic opportunities throughout the nation.
“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.
“Today I have also announced a further £13m for investment in six science centres in the UK, including Dundee and Glasgow, to drive innovation in science and technology.
“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.
“By making the most of our country’s assets and the talents of all of our people, we can build a brighter future for the whole UK.”
Queen Margaret University and East Lothian Council have welcomed the confirmation of funding, £30 million of which will contribute towards the joint development of Edinburgh Innovation Park on land next to the University campus.
An innovation hub will facilitate an expansion of the University’s existing Scottish Centre for Food Development & Innovation and will also provide flexible commercial space for small and medium sized businesses in the food & drink sector.
The innovation hub is expected to act as a catalyst for the further development of an innovation park, based broadly around the theme of food and drink, on a 52-acre site close to the University campus.
The innovation park will form part of a wider development of the land around the University campus, which will include a retail, leisure, and food & beverage Commercial Zone as well as up to 1,500 new housing units (including 375 affordable units) and a new primary school. The full development is expected to leverage in almost £400m of private sector funding over a period of around 20 years.
Welcoming the announcement, Queen Margaret University’s principal, Professor Petra Wend, said: “The ability to set the University at the heart of a major hub for economic development in East Lothian, based around the University’s expertise in food and drink, was one of the key factors which influenced the University’s decision to relocate to East Lothian in 2007. The offer of City Region Deal funding will now allow the University, working in close partnership with East Lothian Council, to move forward with these plans, which are expected to bring almost 1,000 new jobs to the area in the first phase alone.
“The additional development planned on the land around the University campus, including the construction of new housing, will mean that the University will become part of a vibrant new community within the county.”
Scotland’s housebuilders have called for a bold plan for housing to be enacted to fully reap the benefits of the City Deal.
Director of Planning at representative body Homes for Scotland, Tammy Swift-Adams, said: “This funding will allow progress to be made on the city region’s ambition to boost jobs and economic growth. To really reap the benefit of this deal, the region’s councils must match that ambition with bold planning for housing, as advocated in the recent examination report for the new South East Scotland Strategic Development Plan (SESplan 2).
“This deal is also an important boost for business confidence in the region, helping counter increasing concern over a no-deal Brexit. With possible challenges for our industry including workforce retention and the cost of importing materials, we welcome any measure that supports our sector and its vital contribution to Scotland’s economic prosperity.”