Places for People unveils £75m Engine Yard transformation with new images

Aerial view of The Engine Yard on Leith Walk, Edinburgh

New images show the extent the £75 million Engine Yard development will transform a 4.5 acre neglected brownfield site on Leith Walk, providing much needed housing in a new community close to Edinburgh city centre.

Hailed as a ‘gated community without gates’, due to the rectangular shape of the site with its narrow frontage onto Leith Walk, The Engine Yard is currently under construction on the site of Edinburgh’s historic tram depot at Shrubhill. Where once there were workshops and the engine room that housed the winding gear for the city’s famous cable-hauled trams, soon there will be 376 new homes and state-of-the-art on-site gym facilities.

The Engine Yard – which is being developed by property management, regeneration and development business, Places for People - will offer a range of tenure options for rent and sale across a mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments, duplexes and penthouses. As well as the new-build properties, there will be homes available for sale within the conversion of the existing Grade B listed former tram depot buildings.

Historic remains of tram shed listed boundary wall

The tram sheds, chimney and a large part of the boundary wall and gables, all listed, remain part of new the development adding distinctive character and inspiration for the landscaping of outside spaces which uses transport elements of the past to reinforce the unique nature of the site. Visible from Leith Walk, the historical chimney provides a focal point, and a reinterpretation of the old tram tracks run through the site as a walkway. The proportions of the old tram carriages are re-interpreted to create planters and seats in the public space.

Colin Rae, group development director at The Engine Yard developer Places for People, said: “We have invested a lot of time planning the transition of this historic but very run down site into a place where people will want to live and, through the talents of many involved in the process, we devised a solution which is holistic and sensitive to local differences.

“As placemakers we are very proud that the end result will be a distinctive, sustainable, safe and accessible neighbourhood. Public spaces should not be lifeless and although only a small part of the site is visible from the main thoroughfare of Leith Walk, it opens up to gardens and shared spaces creating a unique living environment.”

View from Leith Walk

The Engine Yard is a success story for Places for People and has involved five group companies in bringing it to life. Led by Places Developments’ development and construction teams, it has included property management experts Residential Management Group, and property management specialists Touchstone. Places for People Leisure will operate Places Gym, and Edinburgh-based housing association Castle Rock Edinvar will adopt 25 units to provide older person’s housing. A further 51 affordable homes are provided by Port of Leith Housing Association.

A partnership between Places for People, City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) will see 150 of the homes purchased for the provision of mid-market rent under SFT’s award-winning National Housing Trust initiative.

Christa Reekie, SFT’s commercial director, said: “The City of Edinburgh Council has fully embraced our NHT initiative and so far has over 550 NHT homes across six sites, with a further 288 across two additional sites still to be delivered. I’m delighted to see more quality, energy efficient homes being built today.”

Cllr Kate Campbell, convener of the housing and economy committee, said: “This is another great example of the Council, through £28m of grant and loan funding, contributing to the development of more high quality affordable housing in Edinburgh. It is another step towards our delivery of 20,000 homes in the next ten years, helping to bring greater prosperity to everyone in every neighbourhood.”

Dr John Boyle, head of research at Rettie & Co., added: “In Edinburgh, a lack of homes being made available for sale has made the current market the most demand driven in a decade, as evidenced by house prices rising 10% in the capital year-on-year. In desirable locations, this is manifesting itself in competitive closing dates, often with over ten serious bidders offering over the Home Report value. Rising levels of new build development, with nearly 2,300 units built in the last year and a rise of 32% on the previous year, are going some way to meet demand but the city is currently only building at around two-thirds of required levels.

“Recent successful developments around Leith Walk have helped cement this as one of the strongest residential areas of the city. The proximity and ability to walk to the city centre, excellent transport links for further afield and abundance of nearby amenities all contribute to its strong appeal. The new development at the Engine Yard is already attracting a lot of interest and looks set to continue this growth trend.”

Flowerbed inspired by trams

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