The new Scottish parliament building continues to be a source of controversy, with latest reports suggesting that the final bill will approach a staggering £200m. At the same time, the parliament is still the main driver of new building around the capital, as businesses jockey for position near the decision-makers.

Contractors claim they are happy with the volume of work flowing from the public, retail, hotel and leisure sectors. But there is little in the way of industrial development.

In Edinburgh, new work includes proposals for a retail development using the air space above Waverly Station, a retail development at the last gap site on Princes Street and the refurbishment of a landmark building on the North Bridge, which was formerly the offices of newspaper The Scotsman. This is set to become a new hotel and leisure complex. Further out is the planned £90m development of the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters, the rapid transit system and the ongoing regeneration of Leith dock.

In Glasgow, phase one of the Braehead Shopping Centre is complete, and, as phase two kicks off, a number of hotel and leisure developments are set to follow in its wake. The £72m Glasgow Science Park is under construction on the banks of the Clyde on a site that was formerly the 1990 Glasgow Garden Festival. The park includes an Imax cinema, exhibition centre and 100 m high tower. On the horizon is the £60m Atlantic Quay development in the decaying riverside Blythswood area of the commercial district.

Stirling and Falkirk, along the central belt corridor of Scotland, have benefited from an increase in demand for out-of-town housing and commercial developments, driven partly by lack of space in Edinburgh. Falkirk has its Callendar Business Park run by Falkirk First Partnership, where two 100 000 ft2 developments are due to be announced – one of which is expected to be a call centre. Stirling, meanwhile, reports a number of speculative developments by Central Scotland Business Parks.

A number of commentators believe the industry is stretched to its full capacity, with labour shortages reported across all trades and reports of shortages of quantity surveyors.

Antony Akilade


The low entry threshold to the industry means tender prices remain very, very low Douglas Kirkwood chief executive, John Dickie Everyone wants high-quality employees – but fewer of them Ken Winter managing director of northern regions, Balfour Beatty Key projects £200m Scottish parliament building Edinburgh £210m Edinburgh Royal Infirmary £72m development of Glasgow Science Park funded by the Glasgow Development Agency, the European Regional Development Fund and the Millennium Commission Price of a pint £2 Price of a three-bed semi £66 000