The announcement today of the go ahead for the Edinburgh and South East of Scotland City Deal will mean the go ahead for plans for an innovation park on land next to Queen Margaret University.
Government funding of £30 million being made available through the City Deal will contribute towards the development which is a joint venture between the university and East Lothian Council.
An innovation hub on the site will facilitate an expansion of the university’s existing Scottish Centre for Food Development & Innovation and will also provide flexible commercial space for SMEs in the food and drink sector.
Businesses sited there will gain easy access to the university’s specialism in the healthy food and drink product market including the development of new foods and the reformulation of existing products.
It is expected the the innovation hub will act as a catalyst for the further development of an innovation park, based broadly around the theme of food and drink, on a 52 acre site close to the University campus.
The innovation park will form part of a wider development of the land around the university campus, which will include a retail, leisure, and food & beverage commercial zone as well as up to 1,500 new housing units (including 375 affordable units) and a new primary school. The full development is predicted to leverage in almost £400 million of private sector funding over a period of around 20 years.
Professor Petra Wend, principal of Queen Margaret University said: “The ability to set the university at the heart of a major hub for economic development in East Lothian, based around the university’s expertise in food and drink, was one of the key factors which influenced the university’s decision to relocate to East Lothian in 2007.
“The offer of City Region Deal funding will now allow the university, working in close partnership with East Lothian Council, to move forward with these plans, which are expected to bring almost 1,000 new jobs to the area in the first phase alone.”
Other elements of the Deal benefiting East Lothian include a focus on developing skills and reducing barriers to employment.
Support for an expanded affordable housing programme, with a specific focus on Blindwells, will allow more young people to continue to live and work in East Lothian and encourage more people to live and work locally.
The Deal also signals improvements to the Edinburgh City Bypass and Sheriffhall roundabout which are used by many people living in East Lothian
Depute Council Leader Norman Hampshire said: “Growing the East Lothian economy and supporting local jobs is one of our top priorities as a council. That’s why we’re delighted with the signing of the City Region Deal.
“The Food and Drink Innovation Campus at Queen Margaret University will support innovation and quality in the food and drink industry.
“A project of this nature is highly appropriate in Scotland’s food and drink county and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the university in taking the wider development forward.”
“Improvements to the Edinburgh City Bypass and Sherriffhall roundabout will also have a positive effect on East Lothian’s economy by improving our transport links to Edinburgh and beyond.”