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BTR Can Rejuvenate Communities and Urban Centres – Article by SLD

By Scarlett Land and Development

Edinburgh and Glasgow both have a significant number of brownfield sites (previously developed land, often for industrial use). Many of these sites tend to be well located, obsolete and underutilised ‘gaps’ across our cities that require significant amounts of investment to support renewed urban regeneration.

These, now vacant sites, have remained undeveloped for long periods of time due to high development costs, complex planning frameworks and the time required to successfully gain planning for any type of redevelopment. Due to historic land uses, some sites also require heavy remediation before they can be utilised for an alternate use, adding to the potential unknowns. Even for the best located sites, these factors contribute to them often being unviable from a financial perspective, holding back potential investment into the surrounding communities.

The proposed Edinburgh City Plan 2030 specifically addresses the delivery of brownfield land for regeneration as a priority so as to deliver new housing. To further meet rental housing demands, the redevelopment of these brownfield sites should also be promoted for new Build to Rent (BTR) homes as a viable solution to help alleviate sprawling new build developments on greenfield sites. There is a huge opportunity for institutional investors to increase local housing supply on brownfield sites across our cities but (obviously) requires a stable, transparent and predictable political and regulatory environment in which to invest for the long-term on large scale.

Institutionally funded and professionally managed housing projects would also bring a wide range of benefits to local areas in need of regeneration. Infilling currently vacant sites for community rental housing would create investment activity, population and productivity to the local area through greater housing choice and flexibility. Institutional investors require purpose-built BTR projects to be net zero focused, making them more efficient to occupy, and local communities have comfort they have been designed to the highest standards by a professional and responsible owner.

Until such time the Scottish Government clarifies the situation going forward with regards to the temporary rent freeze, new projects on brownfield sites across Scotland (and the pipeline of c.10,000 BTR units) is temporarily on hold.

A full listing of Scotland BTR and an interactive map of BTR schemes can be viewed here.


Published in the Citylets News Blog 10.09.22