Sharing benefits of the city boom

Councillor Stuart Bell represents SBC on SESplan.
Councillor Stuart Bell represents SBC on SESplan.

The Borders faces greater challenges than the rest of the ‘Edinburgh City Region’ because of fewer job opportunities, lower wages and the out-migration of youngsters.

That candid acknowledgement forms the preface of a major consultation document launched this week on the issues facing the capital and its neighbouring local authority areas of East, Mid and West Lothian, Fife and the Borders over the next 25 years.

The six councils became a strategic entity in 2007 with the formation of the South East Scotland Planning Partnership Authority (SESplan), charged to come up with a holistic, long term plan to deal with the pressures exerted by an economically overheated Edinburgh.

As a precursor to an overarching plan, SESplan has this week published a main issues report (MIR), setting out options for how the six council areas can work together to share the benefits of the city boom.

The blueprint looks at population growth, housing shortages particularly in the affordable sector, the potential for inward investment and job creation, transport infrastructure improvements and protecting the environment.

“It gives the opportunity for scrutiny and feedback on how best to plan for the future,” said City of Edinburgh councillor Ian Perry, chairman of the SESplan committee which drafted the MIR.

“We need to question preconceived ideas, explore new ones and investigate imaginative solutions.”

Councillor Stuart Bell, who represents SBC on SESplan, said that the growth of Edinburgh was a key factor.

“The MIR looks forward 25 years, during which there will be forecast growth of 25,000 jobs in the city, attracting a growing population and generating an anticipated 25% increase in demand for housing,” said Mr Bell.

“It may all seem a bit nebulous and long-term, but planning to ensure we maximise the advantages – and mitigate the disadvantages - for the Borders is extremely important and I urge the public to have its say.”

A series of local public meetings to discuss the MIR have been arranged as follows: August 26, Newton Street, Duns; September 8 – SBH HQ, Newtown St Boswells; and September 10 – Rosetta Road, Peebles. The sessions will run from 6.30 till 8.30pm.

The MIR is also available on the SESplan website where a portal is available for online comments. The consultation closes on September 30.