Task force set up to ease development

A task force has been established in Edinburgh in an attempt to improve relations between developers, planners and conservationists.

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce has established the group after warning that delays in the planning system are discouraging investment in the city.

Mountgrange Capital chief executive Manish Chande will head the task force. The firm is behind the Caltongate development in Edinburgh's New Town.

"The group's aim is to attract investment and jobs to the city," explained chamber chief executive Ron Hewitt. "It is about developers working together to find the common issues that need tackling and building relationships with the planning department and heritage groups.

"Several things in Edinburgh are holding us back, such as the slowness of the planning system, difficulties in developing in the world heritage site and the sheer number of nimby groups that oppose developments."

Organisations represented on the task force include Gladedale Capital, which is redeveloping the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary site, and Henderson Global Investments, which is planning to overhaul the St James shopping mall in the city centre.

Edinburgh World Heritage confirmed last week that it would be happy to talk to the task force. However, the Save Our Old Town pressure group expressed more scepticism over the body's role.

Spokeswoman Julie Logan commented: "We are not sure why this group has been set up. But it is going to represent purely the interests of the private sector."


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