Will a New Community Trust Help Stop Edinburgh’s Old Town from Dying?

This is one of the questions that the newly established Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust , will be asking at its first public meeting this Thursday 26th November at Augustine United Church, George IV Bridge from 7.30pm – 9.30pm.

Catriona Grant a local resident and director of the trust, said today “Last week in Venice the last remaining long term residents held a mock funeral to dramatise the flight of residents from their city’s heart. We may be holding one here soon, if we do not take action now. Like the Venetians we need affordable and also non HMO sized family housing, which encourages people, especially families, to stay or move into the area. Like Venice, prices are steep in the historic centre, and many landlords demand much more money, by advertising over the Internet to short stay visitors than with long-term rentals to residents.”

She added “We however as residents then have to live with the consequence of these which are often large hen and stag parties. We have become unpaid concierges and are disturbed at all hours, it is only because of a loophole in the law that they are turning the Old Town into one big unregulated hotel. There are health and safety issues that no one has addressed yet, as well as the obvious almost daily loss of long term inhabitants, with the knock on effect of losing local shops and perhaps even the last remaining school, along with other vital community facilities which ensure a living neighbourhood.”

Sean Bradley, a director of the trust and Chair of the Grassmarket Residents’ Association said today

“A community’s greatest asset is its residents. The Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust is an historic opportunity for the people of the Old Town to shape its future for the benefit of all – that means improving opportunities and the quality of life for everyone”

Last year’s community research, The Canongate Project , showed that more support and facilities are needed for the residential population if a ‘living city’ is to be maintained in the Old Town. The research also highlighted the need for affordable housing, family sized homes, a better mix of local shops, community facilities, play space, public toilets, safe and usable green public space, along with residents having a say in future developments in the Old Town.

The meeting is to include discussion on the trusts possible projects and Ian Cooke, Director of The Development Trusts Association Scotland will give an introduction to the fast growing network of development trusts across Scotland, and highlight the real differences they are making to the communities in which they are based.

Catriona ends “So we are urging those who live in the area and outwith to come along and become a member of the trust. Help shape the future projects and the role the trust can play in an area, which is becoming increasingly dominated by tourism and the night-time economy often at the expense of those who call it home”

***Notes for Editors***

Contact Catriona Grant 07717204426

Meeting Details –

The Public Meeting of The newly formed Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust which also covers the Dumbiedykes area is on
Thursday 26th November `09 at Augustine United Church at 41 George IV Bridge EH1 1EL 7.30pm-9.30pm

Venice http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/world/europe/15venice.html

Google News on Venice http://news.google.co.uk/news/more?um=1&cf=all&ned=uk&cf=all&ncl=dvB8OLyLeAxuTdMI2JQjdxfFtC54M

The Development Trust Association Scotland http://www.dtascot.org.uk/

Party Flats Edinburgh http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/edinburgh/Neighbours-beg–MSPs-for.5120629.jp

The Canongate Project http://eh8.org.uk/sites/eh8.org.uk/files/canongate-final-report-web_0.pdf

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