Memorandum from Edinburgh City Council


With the formal opening of the Millennium Link in May 2002 the emphasis has now moved onto maximising the potential of the asset in local economic development/regeneration terms for local communities.

This submission updates the position within the City of Edinburgh Council area, building on the context/potential outlined by the Council in its initial submission. This report identifies where there has already been exciting and significant developments, and where there is a challenge to do more.

Within Edinburgh, we have seen the start on site of the ambitious and substantial Edinburgh Quay. This in turn is beginning to stimulate other development interest in the Lochrin basin environs. The potential here is for creation of a dynamic and fitting end/start to the Link, and a very significant employment and regeneration hub in its own right. This is mirrored at the other end of the Edinburgh stretch, with the opening of the impressive Adventure Centre in Ratho quarry, and with potential development in the Craigpark quarry. Combine this with the existing Edinburgh Canal Centre, and once again, here we have a major critical mass of development beginning to emerge.

Public agencies, in partnership working, are now focussing their energies on stimulating local economic development outputs in the key area of Wester Hailes. We can see that the potential exists, but it presents a challenging task to translate the potential to real proposals on the ground.

Key agencies in partnership with the local communities have now begun this task, with a major in-depth and action centred study commissioned. This study will bring forward detailed proposals and implementation vehicles for a range of developments in both the public and private sector. With a pro-active approach in Wester Hailes, and support for the exciting range of developments elsewhere, there is a confidence that the restored Link will be a very positive asset in Edinburgh. This will create a range of economic, recreational, and community activities, which in their turn will generate employment, training and local economic outputs in excess of the original targets.


With the formal opening of the Millennium Link in May last year, the focus rightly moved to strategies to maximise its potential for local Economic Development and Regeneration. In Edinburgh, whilst the Council and other key development agencies were strongly supportive of the Link and its potential, realistically, there was and remains a significant focus in Economic Development/Regeneration terms on a number of other major initiatives, including Edinburgh Park/West Edinburgh, the Waterfront, the South-East Wedge, Craigmillar Joint Venture, Medi-park, Conference Centre and Financial Quarter. To some extent the Canal has been a "hidden jewel" in Edinburgh, both out of sight and mind. It is to the great credit of a small number of enthusiasts that the potential of the Canal has been recognised and that its physical restoration has come to fruition.

2. In relation to local economic development outputs, these were identified in the original Pieda report for Edinburgh as being:

Permanent jobs 291
New Growth/SMEs 10
Temporary jobs (person years) 915
Community jobs 9

It is not possible within a year of the formal opening of the Link to properly identify direct performance against the above targets. What this report will do is identify current economic development and related activity and its potential overtime to contribute to concrete outputs in terms of the above and other indicators. It is still considered that the above targets will be met and exceeded in Edinburgh.

The Parliamentary Inquiry rightly posed a number of questions:

  1. How will the physical development of the Link be effectively translated into economic development outputs
  2. How will local communities directly benefit from the Link in terms of jobs and prosperity for local people?

4. It is in Wester Hailes that these key questions present the greatest challenge in Edinburgh. The recreation of the Canal through the heart of Wester Hailes has been a remarkable success and represents a significant improvement in the urban landscape. At present there is little resultant activity based in and around the canal, this is the issue that key agencies and local community groups are now addressing pro-actively.

The key elements of which are:

  • The construction of a purpose built canalside community centre. This will take place shortly and demonstrate early action.
  • The holding of an all day seminar of key agencies and community representatives which produced a key policy document outlining key development themes and opportunities.
  • Based on the above, the City Council, S.E.E.L., British Waterways and the Wester Hailes community have commissioned an in-depth action study to identify concrete development proposals, and a defined development strategy for the area.
  • Associated survey of development sites, and a range of economic development proposals, with potential funding sources, and potential development vehicles including, commercial, joint venture, and community and social enterprise.
  • Establishment of a dedicated community boat for the area.

5. Challenges remain to generate real economic outputs in the area and to link these to existing developments within the restored town centre area, but these are now being addressed in a co-ordinated way with partnership working.


Significant progress is being made in establishing an impressive end/start of the Link network in Edinburgh. Phase One of Edinburgh Quay is now on site with 35,000 sq ft of leisure space, 70,000 sq ft of office and forty waterfront flats. This has stimulated private interest in other parts of the basin area, with significant residential/commercial development proposals on the west side. It is estimated that completed developments will accommodate up to 650 new jobs in the area.

7. Edinburgh Quay as well as being seen as a quality extension to the financial district, will also become a tourist/leisure attraction in its own right. The introduction of an operating canal and the opening out of the basin will introduce an element of water to the city centre which will be an attractive focus for both tourists and local people alike. There is considerable interest within the local communities of Tolcross and Fountainbridge who are keen to see new opportunities and facilities in their area.

It is anticipated that new water related facilities and activities will shortly follow when the new public space around the basin is completed including trip boats and canal related facilities. It is also anticipated that this extensive range of activity will generate a variety of new employment opportunities for local people, these will include office based employment, jobs within the catering and tourist trades and a modest range of jobs linked to canal activity.

8. A further significant activity hub is developing at the other end of the Edinburgh length. The completion of the new lottery funded Adventure Centre together with likely major development within the Craigpark Quarry site, will combine with the existing Edinburgh Canal Centre at the Bridge Inn, Ratho to establish an attractive focus for recreation/leisure activity focus. It is anticipated that these developments will also create a range of employment opportunities in leisure, catering, tourism, craft and environmental services.

9. It is not suggested that these major developments have been generated primarily by the canal development per se, but their proximity to the canal, and the existence of the Millennium Link will considerably benefit the overall development environment, creating a critical mass for further development based around the ribbon of opportunity that the restored canal represents.

10. There are also a widening number of potential canalside developments, at Merchiston, Harrison Park and Meggatland which are being explored which will use the restored link to good effect.


11. It is too early to identify a range of employment opportunities which have now been created as a result of the Link project. However, certainly in Edinburgh we are able to point to a range of on-going local economic development activities, which are being developed and will lead to the creation of a range of new jobs and businesses. These will create a critical mass, which will lead to further developments and spinouts.

12. In regeneration terms, public agencies recognise that they must work in partnership to pro-actively stimulate development and this process is now underway with a major action plan in preparation for Wester Hailes. In Edinburgh there is a confidence that the investment the restored Link represents will result in very significant employment and local economic benefits over the next five years and beyond.

Andrew Holmes

Director of City Development

30 April 2003

Extract from Scottish Affairs - Minutes of Evidence
Taken before the Scottish Affairs Committee on Tuesday 20 May 2003