Edinburgh accounted for nearly quarter of new build starts last year

25th Oct 2022
David J Alexander

As featured in Scottish Construction Now.


Edinburgh accounted for almost a quarter of new build starts in the private sector in Scotland last year. We examined the latest statistics and found that 23.3% of new build starts (3,166) in the financial year 2020-2021, the latest year for which there is data, were in Edinburgh.

In Scotland over the same period there were 13,568 private new build starts. If you include the areas surrounding Edinburgh (East Lothian; Midlothian; West Lothian; and Fife) the figure rises to 5,409, which is 39.9% of the Scottish total.

Scotland’s other major cities come nowhere near the Edinburgh figure. In Glasgow there appears to be a long-term decline in new build housing: having peaked at 4,270 private new build starts in 2006-07, the latest figure is a fraction of that at 605 (4.5% of the Scottish total) for 2020-21. This is unrelated to the pandemic as this figure is the second highest in the last 12 years.

Including the figures for the Glasgow City Region (which includes seven local authorities plus the city) there have been 3,013 private new build starts in the latest year which is the equivalent of 22.2% of Scotland’s total.

Aberdeen city recorded 644 private new build starts, which is close to the average for the last decade, while Dundee had 262 in 2020-21, which was the fourth highest figure in the last 12 years.

David Alexander, chief executive officer of DJ Alexander Scotland, said: “It is clear that Edinburgh is a Scottish, UK, and international property hotspot which is encouraging a property building boom. Prices are currently at record levels and demand remains strong. As a result, there has been a natural rippling out effect from the city which has also encouraged new building in the adjacent local authority areas.

“Just last month approval was given for the creation of a new town in East Lothian called Blindwells which will consist of 1600 new homes, a school, local amenities, and good access to public and private transport links.”

He continued: “This is all good for Edinburgh and the surrounding areas as long as too much strain is not placed on the local community infrastructure in these areas. There is also the question of whether Edinburgh being such a powerful draw for individuals and companies is healthy for the wider Scottish economy.”

“The danger is that we end up with a capital which becomes disproportionately expensive compared to the majority of Scotland and is only affordable to people from elsewhere. The emphasis on maintaining high levels of affordable housing in the capital must continue along with support for the private rented sector to enable it to house those people who want to work in Edinburgh but cannot afford, or don’t want, to buy.”

Mr Alexander concluded: “There is much to celebrate in Edinburgh’s expansion in recent years, but it needs to be tempered with comparable investment and building in other parts of the Scotland to ensure we don’t create a two-tier society. A successful capital should be part of a successful Scotland if the country is to thrive.”