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The AirBnB phenomenon – final programme

Impact and Opportunities of the Collaborative Economy and Disruptive Technologies: how should Edinburgh respond to short-term letting.

A report by University of Sheffield academic Alasdair Rae showed that 9,638 properties were listed for short-term let in Edinburgh on the short term letting site AirBnB in September 2017, an increase of 54% in just over a year from 6,272 in July 2016. With a booming tourism sector, is this a positive market response, or does it represent a major threat to the residential fabric of the City?

Venue: City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, Nicolson Square, Edinburgh EH8 9BX

Date: Wednesday 14 March 2018

Time: 2pm to 5 pm


£8 for Cockburn Association members, students and members of Edinburgh Civic Forum (Community Councils, civic and residents’ associations)

£45 for others (£100 for block booking of 3 places)





2:00 – 2:05


Welcome & housekeeping

2:05 – 2:20

Professor Cliff Hague


An introduction to issues:  Sharing & disruptive technologies and short term lets

2:20 – 2:50

Professor Douglas Robertson

Managing the Collaborative Economy: the rise of short-term letting in Edinburgh and beyond

2:50 – 3:05

Michael Allen

The Proprietor’s Perspective


3:05 – 3:20



3:20 – 3:40


Tea and Cake

3:40 – 4:10

John Donnelly, Marketing Edinburgh

Residents and visitors – in search of quality and comfort: Good Life vs Attractive Destination?

4:10 – 4:25

Rosemary Mann


Residential amenity and community - impacts and problems.

4:25 – 4:40

Andrew Mitchell

Regulatory issues and challenges in Edinburgh


4:40 – 4:55



4:55 – 5:00

Terry Levinthal

End Notes: A Cockburn Perspective





Our Speakers:

Professor Douglas Robertson – co-author of a Scottish Government scoping report on the supply and demand of short term lets in Scotland.  Professor Robertson’s research expertise focuses on sociological understanding of place, belonging and identity and examining how these influence society in relation to social and housing policies.

Professor Cliff Hague OBE – Academic, Town Planner, freelance consultant and researcher. Former Chairman of the Built Environment Forum Scotland, Past President of the Royal Town Planning Institute and President of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (Secretary-General 2006 -10) and is current Chair of the Cockburn Association. In 2011, he chaired the Commonwealth expert group on urbanisation. He is a Patron of Planning Aid Scotland.

Ms Rosemary Mann – Old Town resident, heritage administrator & activist and former Brewer. Rosemary is the Secretary of The Mansfield Traquair Trust, formed in 1993 in response to public concern about the deterioration of the condition of the former Catholic Apostolic Church in Mansfield Place. She is a member of the Old Town Association, and a longstanding resident in the Old Town of Edinburgh, where she has lived for over 3 decades.

Michael Allen – studied law at Edinburgh, Stirling and Charles University in Prague and has worked as a legal consultant and specialist in property. He co-founded the short rentals company and (for long, student and short lets) after being one of the first 500 hosts in Edinburgh to list a whole home at the end of 2014. He has just acquired Festival Flats, a company established in 1986 that supports the festival.

John Donnelly – CEO of Marketing Edinburgh, an agency that promotes Edinburgh globally as an outstanding place in which to live, work, study, visit and invest.  He is owner of John P Donnelly & Associates, a consultancy focused on integrated brand activation and holds/has held director and Board positions with Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, Essential Edinburgh and Best Cities Global Alliance. 

Andrew Mitchell – is a qualified Trading Standards Officer.  He is the Regulatory Services Senior Manager for the City of Edinburgh Council with responsibilities are the Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Licensing functions.  He is responsible for the Council’s functions in relation to regulating and providing support to the private rented housing sector. He lead the Council’s short life working group on short term accommodation, and previously as Community Safety Manager was heavily involved in a similar exercise regarding so-called ‘Party Flats’.


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