Fountainbridge Canalside vision gets green light

An artist's impression of the plans for the development. Picture: comp
An artist's impression of the plans for the development. Picture: comp
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A £150 MILLION canalside “cultural quarter” and housing development has taken a giant leap forward after city council planning bosses gave it the green light.

The ambitious masterplan for the old McEwan’s Fountain Brewery plot includes 350 homes, a 130-bedroom boutique hotel and car park.

Fountainbridge residents helped draw up the plans through a series of workshops during the consultation period, with cafes, restaurants and retail space all central to the proposals.

Green councillor Nigel Bagshaw said the development – spanning 8.2 acres just north of the Union Canal – looked an “exciting prospect”.

He said: “There’s a lot of monolithic, not well-thought-out developments across the city at times so it’s really good to see something that’s mixed like this with different activities. It should create a vibrant new part of town.

“If you do anything by water, it looks good and people want to live there.

“I love that you can get the whole way down the canal in a way you probably couldn’t have ten years ago. It’s really opening it up.”

But during yesterday’s city planning meeting, Cllr Bagshaw admitted he had concerns over the height of the buildings.

“It has been suggested the buildings might be lowered somewhat and made higher further to the north,” Cllr Bagshaw said.

His fears were backed by Conservative councillor Joanna Mowat.

Referring to drawings illustrating how they might look, with people shown walking past, she said: “They look as if they might topple on to the ants below.”

The site, just off Dundee Street and along from the Fountain Park leisure complex, has been lying empty since the brewery closed in 2004.

It was previously home to the North British Rubber Company and also includes the old Edinburgh Printmakers, which has been targeted for student housing.

The plans, tabled by property development firm EDI Group, were submitted to the city council, which yesterday granted planning permission in principle.

The canalside area will also be “enhanced” for leisure activities, with EDI Group in talks with Calder-based social enterprise Bridge 8, which promotes outdoor activities along the Union Canal.

Proposals also include designs to provide incubator space to new business start-ups which can then move in to permanent units elsewhere on the site.

It is estimated that around 1400 jobs will be created at the development’s retail units and business areas, in addition to local construction jobs during the building phase.

kate.pickles@edinburghnews.com