How will £18M Boost Retrofit Commitment in Edinburgh?
The City of Edinburgh Council has announced it will fund a £18 million annual area-based retrofitting programme. Housing Industry Leaders explores how the programme is tackling the housing crisis by targeting empty homes.

Across Lochend and Restalrig, mixed-tenure homes will be retrofitted for better efficiency through the programme.

It is ensuring it prioritises better insulation and targets the root cause of serious disrepair including damp and mould. The work will make homes in the area warmer and cheaper to heat while smartening up the exterior appearance of buildings.

Edinburgh aims to reach net zero by 2030

The retrofitting programme could cover a maximum of approximately 1,440 homes. However, the exact number of homes will only be confirmed once the council starts carrying out detailed surveys of the area.

Councillor Jane Meagher, Chair of the Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Committee, revealed that the retrofit scheme was part of the £173m spending package agreed by the council in March.”

The work we do will make homes more modern, greener, and more accessible. In many cases we will fundamentally overhaul the fabric of buildings and improve energy efficiency.

She continued to highlight that the focus is improving the lives of the people of Edinburgh: “This will help with issues such as damp, help reduce renters’ fuel bills and support Edinburgh’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Rollout will take time and there may be short-term disruptions, but the longer-term benefits to tenants will be significant.

“I am pleased that we are able to undertake this work and that Living Rent’s news is being well received. It’s so important that we continue to listen to our tenants so we can continue to invest in the areas that make the most difference to people’s lives.”

Funding from the project will come from the City of Edinburgh Council’s Housing Revenue Account. Private contributions from homeowners will also be necessary where they are owner occupiers and private landlords in the building.

It is said that the work will be subsidised for most homeowners who are eligible for Energy Efficiency Scotland Area Based Scheme Grant in Kind Funding.

The programme will make heating homes more affordable

Members of Living Rent Lochend have been campaigning over their housing blocks by the council since November 2022.

Living Rent Lochend spokesperson Laura Jackman explained that they are relieved that the council has committed to introducing the programme and want to ensure owners can afford the cost of the programme.

She said: “After decades of neglect, the communities of Lochend, Craigentinny and Restalrig are relieved at the promise of improvements to our homes and wider community.

“It brings a level of excitement and hope for a vibrant and valuable Edinburgh suburb for all housing tenures, social and private renting tenants as well as private owners.”

This is a huge win for Living Rent members. As energy bills increase, the retrofitting programme will ensure residents in Lochend and Restalrig are more able to afford to heat their homes.

Affordable new homes will be delivered in Edinburgh

To tackle the housing crisis, the City of Edinburgh Council has also recently announced that over 100 new council homes have been approved as part of Edinburgh’s major regeneration of Fountainbridge.

Formerly the site of the Fountain Brewery, the huge number of new homes for social rent will feature in a 49,000 square metre redevelopment overlooking the Union Canal.

This area will be transformed as part of a development called Leamington Square; a joint venture between the City of Edinburgh Council as landowner and a partnership between Cruden Homes (East) Ltd and Buccleuch Property.

They will deliver around 464 homes alongside landscaping and infrastructure improvements, over 2,700 square metres of retail space supporting the creation of a 20-minute neighbourhood approach and new local jobs.

The council will own 115 homes for social rent and 71 homes for mid-market rent as part of the plans and support the delivery of additional, affordable new homes.

In addition, it will also spearhead the creation of a community growing space and new integrated cycle ways. In total, over 1,000 cycle parking spaces are planned for the development.

Decarbonisation must be a priority for councils

To focus on reaching its decarbonisation targets, the development will be designed to minimise GHG emissions and incorporate low-carbon technologies.

Carlo D’Emidio, Project Director of Cruden Homes, explained that focusing on meeting these decarbonisation targets is key to creating a community: “This is a significant milestone for this flagship new development, which will see the transformation of this brownfield site in Fountainbridge into a vibrant new community.”

Subject to our development agreement with City of Edinburgh Council, Cruden and Buccleuch will deliver highly sustainable, net zero homes which will sit amongst a wealth of new amenities and community spaces in the capital’s newest neighbourhood.

It is envisaged that the work will begin in 2024 and will be fully built out by 2027.

Seeing the City of Edinburgh Council place its focus on tackling the housing crisis and ensuring that decarbonisation is a priority, reflects that councils need to ensure that they think of their communities first.