Last month saw the long awaited signing of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal, delayed by the General Election in the Spring. The City Deals are a mechanism for accelerating growth by pulling in significant government investment for infrastructure, skills and innovation to boost economic performance, thereby attracting private investment and raising funds to pay back the initial investment.
The six local authorities – East Lothian, the City of Edinburgh, Fife, Midlothian, West Lothian and the Scottish Borders, signed the deal with the Scottish Government, the UK Government and other regional partners, such as the University of Edinburgh. Both governments committed to investing £300 million each over the next 15 years, with the regional partners investing £500 million between them over the same time period. In addition, the scheme is expected to generate over £5 billion in Gross Value Added.
£300 million is going towards world-leading data innovation centres, with five innovation hubs including those for robotics and space technologies. £140 million is allocated to upgrading the City Bypass A720 with a flyover at the heavily-congested Sherriffhall Roundabout and other improvements to transport links in West Edinburgh. £20 million is being contributed towards a new world-class concert hall in Edinburgh city centre, seating 1,000 and the new home to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. £25 million is being invested into regional skills programmes to support improved career opportunities for disadvantaged groups and £65 million of funding will be spent on housing, to unlock strategic development sites across the region.
Edinburgh city and the surrounding region is an area of huge importance to the Scottish economy, containing over a quarter of Scotland’s population and contributing £33 billion to the Scottish and UK economies. The significant investment in innovation and culture – for which the region is well-known- is expected to create approximately 21,000 jobs, improving prosperity, driving private investment and boosting tourism. The allocation of funds to accelerate affordable housing and the development of the region’s people through skills programmes will help ensure the area is vibrant and inclusive going forward. The Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal was the fourth to be announced, following those for Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen, with more expected to follow in due course.