Missed opportunity

Dear Spurtle,

I refer to the item on page 2 of Spurtle's Issue 309.

I’m afraid your heading '25% Social housing for Ediston development' is incorrect. There is actually no social housing proposed by Ediston in its New Town Quarter development.

The ‘Affordable Housing Statement’ that accompanied the planning application is reproduced in part below this letter.

So, although 25% of the new homes will be ‘affordable’ in terms of the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) policy, none will be let at social rent levels.

This is despite CEC’s further guidance for developers that 70% of ‘affordable' provision should be for social rent.

Rents will be  ‘mid-market rents’ (MMR), i.e. higher than social rents but less than market rents.

The Edinburgh Poverty Commission has heard evidence that even social rents are too high for many in already straitened circumstances.

The median income of a family in social rented accommodation is £16k, and some are paying more than 34% of this on rent (the ‘benchmark’ traditionally being 25–30%).

So the average household income figure of £44k used for the ‘affordability’ test is wholly inappropriate.

And this huge (and increasingly rare) city-centre opportunity to afford good health and well-being for those who need it most is being missed.

Craig Sanderson 

(Edinburgh Poverty Commissioner)


Extract from Ediston's 'Affordable Housing Statement' (28.6.21)

The Edinburgh Local Development Plan (Policy Hou 6) requires developments of 12 units or more to include provision for affordable housing amounting 25% of the total number of units. 

Discussions have previously taken place between Ediston and a locally based RSL about delivering the units as Social Rent. Both parties spent time assessing the project but ultimately concluded that the affordable units were not viable for delivery in this way, and it was agreed that other affordable housing tenures would be more appropriate in this location.

At New Town Quarter, the Applicant proposes to deliver all affordable units as unsubsidised, Discounted Rent. The rent levels will be capped based on Broad Rental Market Area (BRMA) 30th percentile, as set out in the 'Support for Build to Rent' Committee report which was presented to the Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Committee on 20th January 2020. The units will fulfil this affordable criteria for a minimum period of 25 years and will be secured via a Section 75 Legal Agreement. […]

The Council have confirmed that the average household income in the city is £44,000 per year. Rents at the BRMA 30th percentile are considered to be affordable to those earning below the average income.Therefore, Discounted Rent delivered on this basis assists individuals or households in housing need, who are earning a lower than average income and struggle to afford accommodation which is available on the open market at much higher rent levels.

The total number of affordable units being delivered within this development is 108. This represents 25% of the total number of new units. This is therefore compliant with the Affordable Housing Policy. […]

The Applicant will deliver 108 affordable units within the development at New Town Quarter for a minimum period of 25 years. The delivery of these new affordable units will not be reliant on Affordable Housing Grant.The properties will be let as Discounted Rent based on rent levels set at the BRMA 30th percentile, which will be affordable to those who are on low incomes and are below average for the City of Edinburgh. […]