Tynecastle student housing, Gorgie Farm plan

HELLO and welcome to the AM Business Briefing on Monday August 23, as new figures show a shortage of staff and problems in supply chains have hampered UK businesses so far this month as growth slowed to the lowest point in half a year.

A closely-followed survey, which has been running since 1998, said that employment numbers have risen at their fastest rate in its history. But the lack of workers to fill roles put pressure on companies.

The IHS Markit/CIPS Flash UK Composite PMI gave a reading of 55.3 for August, down several points from last month’s 59.2. Scores above 50 on the index represent growth, while anything below that is a contraction.

Also today plans have been submitted for a new student residential development at Edinburgh’s former Tynecastle High School site, the former chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland has been appointed the next chairman of easyJet, and plans are also launched for a £30 million “urban logistics development” in Edinburgh.

‘Exemplar student residential development’ plan unveiled

S1 Developments has submitted a planning application for a new student residential development at Edinburgh’s former Tynecastle High School site.

It said the high-quality student development will regenerate a site that has lain vacant for over a decade and fallen into a state of disrepair.

The careful restoration of the original Category B-listed school building, designed by John Alexander Carfrae, forms an integral part of the proposals.

The development will “far exceed amenity standards for similar student developments and has sustainability at its heart”.

Charities LOVE Gorgie Farm and People Know How have also been revealed as preferred operators for community facilities on the site should planning permission be granted.

The highly popular urban farm will operate an extensive community garden while the latter, which already works with Tynecastle High School, will operate a community facility within the building.

The original school hall will be repurposed as a central amenity hub, sitting within a collegiate-style courtyard space and providing high quality shared facilities for student residents. The landscaping proposals increase green space across the site by more than 40 per cent, helping to increase biodiversity within the local area.

The development has been designed to be highly sustainable with zero parking, 100 per cent cycle parking, the employment of low carbon technologies and no use of fossil fuels.

People Know How will operate a community facility, with the option for other local community groups to use space. The charity supports children, young people and their families in Edinburgh transition from primary to high school; helps individuals access the digital world and assists communities to shape their areas through community consultation and empowerment.

A large number of students volunteer to work with the charity and this enables a positive relationship with students in the building to be established.

LOVE Gorgie Farm will seek to engage children and young people in its environmental programmes through a community garden, on the western edge of the site, which will include planting beds, a shelter, storage space and greenhouses. The farm’s Earth School project, for example will stimulate interest in nature, encouraging new generations in creating a brighter and eco-friendly future.

Dan Teague, Director at S1 Developments, said: “We’re delighted to be submitting a planning application for this exciting development, and to also highlight our involvement with two charities who do such valuable work in local communities.

“As S1 Developments we develop sites to suit the location and have delivered hundreds of homes, including affordable homes across the city. Following our careful assessment of this site, we feel that student development is the most appropriate use given the constraints. This will not only secure the redevelopment of the Old Tynecastle High School, and provide a boost to the local economy, but also allows us to develop the site in manner which is compatible with neighbouring uses.

“The original school building has fallen into a sorry state since it ceased being a school over a decade ago. Whilst the redevelopment is challenging, we are hopeful that the proposed use brings with it an opportunity to save and renovate the original school building and continue its educational use, benefitting the local community.”

Julie O’Donnell, head of LOVE Gorgie Farm, said: “We’re very exciting about the prospect of operating the community garden should the scheme receive consent. With the environment and climate change such topical issues the garden will complement superbly what we do at the farm in the terms of educating our children and young people on nature and the delivery of an eco-friendly future.”

Glenn Liddall, chief executive of People Know How, said: “It is great to be offered this facility, allowing us to increase our activity with the local community. While we will operate it, we are also keen that other groups and organisations be able to make use of it. 

“As a large number of students routinely work with us by way of volunteering, internships and placements, this is a win-win for us. It not only allows us to establish a positive relationship with students in the building who can support us in our work but benefits and engages them in the local area.”

Former Royal Bank of Scotland boss named new chairman of easyJet

Stephen Hester, the former chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, has been appointed the next chairman of easyJet.

Mr Hester, who led Royal Bank for five years in the aftermath of its £45.5 billion bailout by taxpayers at the height of the financial crisis, will join the airline as non-executive director on September 1.

Plans for £30m ‘urban logistics’ development

Plans have been submitted for a £30 million “urban logistics development” in Edinburgh, on the site of a former office building which is being demolished.

A joint venture between industrial developer Chancerygate and specialist investor Bridges Fund Management has submitted plans to speculatively develop 146,745 sq ft of Grade A urban logistics accommodation on a seven-and-a-half-acre site at Bankhead Avenue in Sighthill.

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