A plan to bring thousands of jobs to Edinburgh and attract global technology companies while helping develop home-grown digital businesses has been unveiled.
A dedicated ‘Digital Quarter’ will be the centre point of the 150-acre Crosswind site development near Edinburgh Airport.
The development of this strategically important, brownfield site will open up derelict land, build affordable housing, develop commercial properties and create local amenities.
Working with other agencies, the company behind the plan, Crosswind Developments, aims to create a unique Scottish ‘digital community’ which would augment Edinburgh’s existing qualities as an attractive location for global companies.
The Digital Quarter would provide the kind of transport connections, offices, housing and leisure facilities that global technology companies expect when choosing where to locate, allowing Edinburgh to better compete with key existing European destinations.
The Crosswind site is within easy reach of much of Scotland’s main population centres and is located next door to Edinburgh Airport which has more UK and international connections than any other Scottish airport.
John Watson, chief executive of Crosswind Developments, said the site offered a unique opportunity.
“Scotland, and Edinburgh in particular, should be an ideal location for global technology jobs but without a dedicated approach to creating the kind of environment technology companies are looking for, it’s much harder to bring that investment here,” he said.
“These companies want modern, state of the art offices, world class connectivity, an environment that is attractive to its workforce with easy access to global connections. A pool of high quality graduates is another important factor.
“Crosswind is, perhaps, one of the best connected, undeveloped sites in Scotland with immediate access to air, rail and road transport. It will have a focus on the kind of housing, working space and leisure facilities that people demand.
“Working with others, we believe we can make this part of Edinburgh one of the most attractive locations in the world for these companies while also nurturing home grown start-ups.”
While many global technology firms are located in large cities, smaller centres are becoming popular as a smaller footprint allows shorter commutes, easier access to amenities and a better work/life balance. Cities like Amsterdam, Dublin and Berlin have all been successful in attracting the kind of firms the Digital Quarter could house.
“We will be working closely with all our partners, and the local communities, to ensure that our plans meet all their needs,” said Mr Watson.
“This is a fantastic opportunity not just for Edinburgh but the whole of Scotland. Our relationship with Edinburgh Airport will help us develop strong UK and international connections and gives the site a unique advantage.”
Mr Watson has joined other developers and delegations from the City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government at MIPIM, the world’s largest event for property developers and investors, which is taking place in Cannes this week.
Crosswind, which was set up by infrastructure investment giant Global Infrastructure Partners which also owns Edinburgh Airport, operates as an independent company with its own board of directors and is now moving into the consultation and planning phase of the project.
Alistair Darling, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and an Edinburgh MP for 28 years, chairs the Crosswind board which includes Lesley Sawers, the Equality and Human Rights Commissioner for Scotland who has over 30 years experience at a senior level within both the public and private sectors, Andrew Sutherland, the Joint Managing Director of Miller Developments who brings extensive experience of the commercial property and housing sectors, investment specialist Andrew Gillespie-Smith and Mr Watson.
The development is expected to generate a significant capital investment in Edinburgh and Scotland’s economy. The project aims to fit its ambitions with the Scottish Government and the City of Edinburgh Council’s economic strategies and would strengthen the economic resilience of the local communities surrounding the site.
Crosswind has been working with a number of partners on the plans including Lichfields Planning Consultants, engineering and development consultants Mott MacDonald, Corstorphine + Wright architects, commercial estate agents Cushman & Wakefield, legal advisers Shepherd & Wedderburn and design agency Project.
Notes to Editors;
Crosswind is a 150 acre site in and around the defunct Runway 12/30 at Edinburgh Airport. The runway has been decommissioned and is not in use.
MIPIM is Marché International des Professionnels d’Immobilier. It is hosted by Reed MIDEM and includes an exhibition area, networking events and conference sessions over a period of 4 days.
There were 90,000 technology roles in Scotland in 2017. The Scottish Government wants to target 150,000 digital jobs in Scotland by 2021
Edinburgh was recently named the UK’s top city for start-ups and attracts more foreign investment than any other tech cluster in the UK, outside London. According to Tech Nation Edinburgh has 92% growth potential.
Edinburgh hosts the largest number of tech firms in Scotland (25%)
Technology firms contributed £5bn to the Scottish economy in 2016 and GVA is forecast to grow by 38% by 2024.