Developer aims high with plans for hotel at Waterfront

An artist's impression of the planned hotel development at Ocean Terminal. Picture: contributed
An artist's impression of the planned hotel development at Ocean Terminal. Picture: contributed
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PLANS to build the tallest building in Edinburgh at the Waterfront have been unveiled by developers.

The 28-storey colossus would rise 96 metres into the sky, dwarfing the neighbouring Ocean Terminal and towering over the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Anything that can increase the footfall, bring a bit of prosperity and jobs to the area is welcome”

ALLAN MACKIE

Dramatic images show the slim skyscraper soaring up from the north-east of the existing shopping centre, transforming the Waterfront skyline and boasting stunning views across the Forth.

Ocean Terminal and Holder Planning, who are behind the proposals, staged a public consultation this week to showcase initial designs – with another set for February 24.

Architect Keppie – which was also involved in designing Ocean Terminal itself, as well as BBC Scotland’s headquarters and the Royal Infirmary – said its vision was to provide a “focal point” for the regeneration of the surrounding area.

But it stressed the plans, which have yet to be submitted to the council, are still in their early stages.

A spokesman said: “In response to market interest, Keppie have been commissioned to develop options for a new hotel on the waterfront in Leith Docks, adjacent to Ocean Terminal.

“Initial studies have been prepared for the purposes of discussing the potential scale of the proposal and we are reviewing these with the local community in advance of submitting an application for planning permission in principle.

“The comments made by the community will inform the development of the design going forward.

“It’s a really exciting project that has the potential to provide a focal point for the regeneration of a uniquely situated area of Edinburgh, one graced with great restaurants and bars and set against the backdrop of a busy working dock.”

The scheme would be ideally placed to benefit from any future extension of the trams, while also building on hopes for a new promenade.

Previous blueprints for hotels and conference facilities in the area have fallen through after the scaling back of the tram line and the 2008 credit crunch.

While details on the current project are scarce, if the ambitious designs get the go-ahead it would make the hotel the tallest building in Edinburgh.

St Mary’s Cathedral, which currently holds the crown, comes in at a mere 90 metres in height, while the Scott Monument measures 60 metres.

Community leaders in Leith cautiously welcomed the proposals.

Allan Mackie, chairman of the Leith Harbour and Newhaven community council, said: “There’s not a huge amount of detail yet. It could be quite an exciting development, and it will be interesting to see what other residents think about it.

“Anything like this that can increase the footfall, bring a bit of prosperity and jobs to the area is welcome. But there are two sides to every story, of course, and we need to balance the views of local people.”

However, Marion Williams, director of heritage group the Cockburn Association, said she was “not convinced”.

She said: “Looking at the image, it’s a very thin, tall building which is going to have a lot of wind and rain hurled at it. Is that going to work? And does it relate to any masterplan of what the Waterfront is going to look like?”

A planning application is set to be submitted by March.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com