Edinburgh’s Water Vision

Climate change is going to impact on our lives in more ways than we can even imagine. In response to this, new developments and existing buildings in Edinburgh will have to change in order to support the needs of people. We will also need to consider how public realm, open space, infrastructure and streets are designed, agreed, constructed and maintained.

One of the ways we are preparing Edinburgh for these changes is through our Vision for Management of Water in the City of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh’s Water Vision is;

To develop a long-term and sustainable approach to river, coastal and storm water management across the city and its environs, respecting our unique historic heritage. This will involve all stakeholders and address the flooding and water quality risks associated with our changing climate as a result of changes in rainfall and sea level rise.

One key aim of the report is the need to manage the first 5mm of rainfall within every new development plot.

This is a big change for both planning and building standards, and will require building more raingardens, green roofs and other sustainable urban drainage features.

This will help more plants and wildlife to grow and create greener places for people to live, work and visit. It will also support healthier, happier and better off communities.

A greener city will make our neighbourhoods cooler, helping them become more resilient to heatwaves. This is important as our changing climate means extreme weather events like heatwaves are expected to increase.

Improving drainage

Much of Edinburgh has a historic combined sewer network. This means it carries both sewage and surface water to treatment works.

Our Vision for Management of Water will reduce the amount of clean surface water within the sewer network. This will help cut sewer flooding during heavy rainfall.

We also have a range of  Planning Flood guidance available to help. This will help people to design landscapes which, as well as holding back water to reduce flooding, will encourage plants and wildlife to grow.

As well as making these places nicer to spend time in, plants and wildlife will help to naturally clean rainwater before it reaches our rivers and streams.

This new way of working will enable the development of a city that is adaptive and resilient to climate change, that is also beautiful and biodiverse delivering a healthier, thriving and compact city with a higher quality of life for all residents.

The idea is to deliver transformational change in the way that water is valued and managed in the city.

City Plan 2030 – Commercial Needs Industry Study

Having a healthy stock of land and spaces for a range of businesses to grow is a key concern in planning for a growing city. We commissioned a study on the supply and demand of business and industrial land in Edinburgh which found that there is 1.08 million square metres of industrial space in Edinburgh across 1,214 units which support an estimated 30,000 jobs.

The study shows the spatial pattern of all business and industry spaces, not just industrial estates that we designate for planning purposes. You can see from the map below the pattern of industrial space follows the historic siting of industry along the Water of Leith, where the river powered early industrial processes before coal or electricity was widely used.

industry spread
Industrial properties in Edinburgh

One of the main findings is that the industrial stock is ageing, as can be seen in the bar chart below, and this is reflected in the industry rating of the quality of the space. It shows that most of our industrial space is at least 40 years old as 57% was built during the 1980s or earlier, and 93% of Edinburgh’s industrial space is of a very basic standard.

industry age
Industrial property in Edinburgh by decade built

But rising rent and low vacancy rates tell us that demand for space is strong. However, speculative development of new units has been slow and industrial land has the potential to redevelop for other uses, especially to new homes in inner city areas such as Bonnington. Speculative development has been targeted to the west of the city, with good access to the trunk road network.

The study signals that more flexible floorspace will need to be built and/or refurbished to current standards to replace the older units and meet demand. We expect planning for modern industrial floorspace will be a key issue for City Plan 2030 and we will be reflecting on what delivering replacement premises means for the city’s spatial strategy.

We have also been looking at topics such as shopping and leisure and visitor accommodation and will be looking to share similar posts in future covering these. The commercial needs studies are available to view here.