Joint venture acquires Edinburgh packaging factory site to create residential-led masterplan

Plans to create a residential-led development that will transform a 15.5-acre factory site in Edinburgh with new homes, community amenities and access to a new transport hub have moved forward with the acquisition of the plot of land.

Joint venture acquires Edinburgh packaging factory site to create residential-led masterplan

Mixed-use developer Osborne+Co and build-to-rent developer and operator Moda Living have together acquired the Saica factory site located at Edinburgh Gateway rail and tram interchange and will, subject to planning, look to transform the area into a new urban quarter that aligns with the Edinburgh City Plan 2030.

The developers said the masterplan will deliver a vibrant range of new homes across a mix of tenures – including a substantial affordable housing provision - workspaces and community amenities, as well as a sustainable neighbourhood public realm and access to a new transport hub.

The residential masterplan has the potential to accommodate in excess of 1,000 homes across the tenure and pricing spectrum, aiming to include a mix of studio, one- two- and three-bedroom apartments alongside townhouses.

The neighbourhood will also boast plentiful green space and placemaking initiatives, helping to create a sense of belonging and boosting the existing surrounding community, while commercial opportunities will also be made available. Importantly, the vision aligns with City of Edinburgh Council’s City Plan 2030 to transform the west of the city into a “high-density mixed-use extension to the city with a focus on placemaking, sustainability, connectivity and biodiversity”.

Pre-application discussions, as well as community engagement and consultations, will begin within the coming months, and the team aims to submit outline planning to City of Edinburgh Council within the next 12 months.

Will Hean, development director at Osborne+Co, said: “The acquisition of the Saica site is an exciting and evolutionary addition to our portfolio, again reinforcing our commitment, strategy and long-term vision in Scotland. We are looking forward to continuing our successful partnership with Moda to realise a truly transformational opportunity. 

“As a priority, we will work in collaboration with all our vital stakeholders to shape and deliver on a vision to create a neighbourhood that enriches the existing, thriving community that is designed around accessible and sustainable housing options. We always strive to be good neighbours and hope to bring significant benefits to the community, whether that’s boosting the local economy through employment opportunities, growing the available supply of housing or giving back to the communities we work in.”

Oscar Brooks, director at Moda Living, said: “This is a hugely important site for Moda. Working with Osborne, we are excited to deliver a fantastic next generation neighbourhood that will form the beating heart of west Edinburgh, providing much-needed new homes along with outstanding new public realm and intended connectivity with the transport interchange at Edinburgh Gateway.

“As with all Moda neighbourhoods, this site will be designed, built, and operated around ESG, targeting net zero operations, outstanding resident service and experience, health and wellbeing and using the latest innovation and digital infrastructure to deliver an unparalleled customer experience. We have solid confidence in the Scottish market and as a family company with a long-term view it is crucial, we continue to invest, develop, and operate at scale whilst remaining a trusted partner of the city.”

Michael Laird Architects is providing masterplanning and architectural designs to transform the site.

A spokesperson said: “We are now refining the masterplan details in conjunction with stakeholders and the local community, to ensure that the development becomes a vibrant location that integrates into the continuing expansion of western Edinburgh.”

The development is the third lined up by the joint venture between Moda and Osborne+Co. Outline planning has been submitted for Lancefield Quay in Glasgow for 730 units, which will breathe new life into a city centre site that has been vacant for more than seven years. Last year the JV also announced plans to develop a mixed-use campus at Belfast Waterside, transforming a key strategic city centre site with more than 600 residential units and 1m sq ft of office space.

Saica will be Moda’s second major development site in Edinburgh and fourth in Scotland making it the country’s largest build-to-rent developer operator. Last month, the 500-home Moda, The McEwan, welcomed its first residents and was named Build-to-Rent Development of the Year at the Scottish Property Awards. Osborne+Co has also acquired several sites in Glasgow.

As with other Moda Living developments, the new BTR neighbourhood will prioritise strong sustainability credentials, and is aiming to achieve the global ESG benchmark (GRESB), and three-star Fitwel accreditation. Last year Moda, The McEwan in Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge district became Europe’s first project to achieve the highest Fitwel rating of three stars, proving the design and operation of the neighbourhood is centred on the wellness, happiness and lifestyle of its residents. 

Savills acted for Saica Packaging in the sale. Acting on behalf of Saica, Ben Brough, Savills head of residential development, said: “We are delighted to have concluded the conditional sale to Moda and Osborne.  In a hotly contested disposal process their vision for a truly mixed-use gateway development for Edinburgh was compelling. This new urban quarter will become a residential hub for the west of the city.  It is very exciting to see a multi-tenure development, incorporating Build to Rent, come forward at this scale.”

Adam Haycock, regional director Scotland for Saica, said: “When it came to assessing the multiple bids received for this site, Saica selected Moda and Osborne due to the consortium’s commitment to creating a new neighbourhood with appropriate amenities and infrastructure. This is very much in line with our own strategy of building sustainable communities in the places we operate.” 

Spain-based paper and cardboard company Saica is active in ten European countries. It will shortly be moving to a new purpose-built facility in Livingston demonstrating further commitment to Scotland.

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