Will Scarlett: Leith and East End regeneration

Will Scarlett from Scarlett Land and Development gives his take on the £80 million Skyliner build-to-rent development in Leith and the further regeneration of Edinburgh’s East End.

Will Scarlett: Leith and East End regeneration

Will Scarlett

The regeneration of Leith, Edinburgh and the East End continues apace after the exciting news that S1 Developments has been granted planning consent to deliver 338 build-to-rent (BTR) and intermediate rent apartments for Legal & General (L&G) at the ‘Skyliner’.

The Skyliner consent is particularly significant as it is being delivered for L&G in an £80m investment by the pension fund, it’s first in Edinburgh. Scarlett Land and Development is acting for L&G.

S1 Developments joins other high-quality developers including CALA, Harrisons, Drum Property and Teague Group in a flurry of regeneration activity in Leith and the capital. At the other end of Leith Walk, Nuveen’s spectacular 1.7 million sq.ft Edinburgh St James development is due for completion in October 2020 (850,000 sq.ft retail and leisure) and 2021 (W Hotel and 152 residential apartments).

A ripple of regeneration is spreading out from Leith Walk – east along London Road (Meadowbank Stadium redevelopment, Summix / HG student housing, St Margaret’s House, Dandara at Marionville Road) and West into Bonnington (Platform_, Miller Homes, Kingsford Estates, Queensberry Properties Ltd).

Scarlett Land and Development is at the centre of the regeneration of this area having acted on several key sites (in addition to the 338 BTR units at Skyliner) including Platform_ at Bonnington (220+ BTR units), Ocean Point (c. 200 hotel beds), London Road (198 student beds), Ropeworks (151 units) and Marionville Road (113 apartments in planning).

In terms of the regenerative effect of these investments, we focus on The Shore area in Leith which is rapidly emerging as Edinburgh’s creative hub. Located only two miles from the city centre the area has been home to Michelin-starred restaurants and great cafés for many years. New initiatives include Port of Leith Distillery who will soon be on-site to deliver the first vertical distillery in Scotland next to Ocean Terminal; a new floating boutique hotel – Fingal – is now open after a £5m transformation by The Pedley Group to create 14 bedroom cabins.

Will Scarlett: Leith and East End regeneration

The £80m Skyliner development was approved last week

Meanwhile, S.Harrison is working up plans for a c.200 hotel beds on Ocean Drive, and at Waterfront Plaza CALA is on-site developing 422 homes (apartments, colonies and townhouse). These developments follow the pioneering Teague Group (managed by S1 Developments) whose 16-acre site at The Ropeworks (Salamander Place), consented for 668 units, has already delivered 156 private units (sold at a rate of 7 sales per month) and 145 affordable units.

More recently the creative industries are colonising the area which is now home to video game production company Build A Rocket Boy Games (former team members from RockStar North) in Leith Corn Exchange. Nearby, the 160,000 sq.ft “big blue shed” in Leith docks is being considered by Screen Scotland (a publicly funded body) as a permanent large-scale film and TV production facility. The shed was used as a film studio for part of the production of the Avengers: Infinity War.

The combined effect of this regeneration needs to be acclaimed for its positive contribution to the local economy and quality of life for locals and incomers alike.

Councillor Kate Campbell, convenor of the council’s housing, homelessness and fair work committee, commented that: “The regeneration of Leith is one of Edinburgh and Scotland’s great success stories. Traditional and newer industries sit alongside exciting new residential development in one of the finest urban environments in Europe.

“The night-time economy is vibrant, and the interaction between private investment and public infrastructure, such as completing the tram line to Newhaven, is there for all to see. We are seeing investors thinking imaginatively about their assets, at locations like Ocean Terminal, with new approaches to retail and complementary development like the new distillery which is to be on-site soon.

“Hundreds of housing unit are being built, across all tenures, which continues the tradition of the kind of mixed community Leith has always been. There is so much on-site, and so much more to come, and with strong public-private partnerships in place, there is much to look forward to.”

Not so many years ago, Leith Walk suffered from a challenging perception; today it feels very different. Regeneration is about creating new places where people aspire to live, work and visit. It is about taking unused or under-used land and transforming it into thriving sustainability. It is about putting the heart and confidence back into a community.

We believe that the combined effects of the current crop of projects emanating from Leith Walk are doing just that, and we look forward to working with the local community and sensitive developers to continue the journey.  

  • Will Scarlett is a director at Scarlett Land and Development

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