Delivering sustainable student accommodation and positive regeneration in Leith

  • Investment Strategy,
  • Date of Initial InvestmentOctober 2021
  • Bridges ExecutivesSimon Ringer
    Celia Harrison


With 68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, there is a pressing need for more lower-cost and affordable housing.

In Scotland, construction of new homes is still lagging behind pre-pandemic levels – and the latest figures suggest the Scottish Government may struggle to meet its ambitious commitment to build 100,000 affordable homes by 2032. Edinburgh Local Authority has one of the poorest building stocks in Scotland, due to the age of construction and lack of insulation.


In Q4 2021, Bridges completed the off-market acquisition of a 2.6-acre site in Leith, to the east of Edinburgh, in partnership with HUB Group. The site is within one of the top 10% most underserved areas in Scotland, based on the Housing domain of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (“SIMD”) 2020.

The site had an existing planning consent for the development of student units. Shortly after purchase of the site, Edinburgh University expressed interest in taking a new, long lease on all 558 consented student units.


The development is retaining the listed buildings on site that are largely vacant, increasingly derelict and suffering from severe structural problems, therefore reducing the embodied carbon of the scheme.

The scheme will provide 558 student and 18 lower-cost housing units in an largely vacant, derelict site within a regeneration area, potentially supporting almost 600 occupants. The scheme will be designed with well-being features in mind, including communal and amenity areas, good daylighting, and cycle provision.

The scheme will also provide commercial space at ground floor level that will support a number of jobs and make a positive contribution to the Baltic Street local community.