IT has been an iconic feature of the city skyline for more than a century.
Now the famous Granton Gasholder could be set for a new lease of life after being put on the property market by energy network the National Grid.
Built in 1898, the skeletal structure – once used to store natural gas – earned listed status from Historic Scotland 16 years ago, which could hamper bids to demolish and rebuild on the site.
The move comes as National Grid continues the regeneration of the Granton area to deliver family housing.
By marketing the gasholder, energy bosses hope to identify a potential buyer who might maintain the historic structure and incorporate it into designs.
Four similar structures in Vienna, built in 1899, were recently revitalised, with the city using them as music venues. And in Dublin an old gas-holder was converted to stunning residential flats.
Despite this, property expert Ken Houston criticised Historic Scotland for listing a building that has no obvious use, claiming it was a case of the “heritage lobby going daft”.
He said: “At least other listed buildings have a purpose for future generations but it’s a bit much to expect someone to make a commercial venture of this.
“I’d imagine you couldn’t make any significant changes to the structure, so the key question would be – what would you do with it?”
A ground-floor restaurant was a feasible option, said Mr Houston, but there would have to be a change in its listed status. And he said it was an “impossible” plot to value because there was “little to compare it with”.
The Historic Scotland website states that anyone can propose a building for listing, delisting or request a Certificate of Intention not to list.
National Grid, which also owns the surrounding Forthquarter site, is determined to work with developers to deliver homes on the former gasworks site. Charles Connoly, a senior manager at National Grid Property, said to “unlock the potential” of the area the firm needed to “address the situation with the disused gasholder”.
He said: “We have asked for consent to remove the gas holder which is now redundant to National Grid’s operational requirements. However, as part of its consideration of the application to remove the holder Edinburgh City Council has asked us to market the property to ascertain whether there is any interest from a purchaser willing and able to restore it.”
David Millar, of Granton and District Community Council said the landmark was of “historical significance” and should be left alone.
He said: “There’s not much of the old Granton left, they’ve developed the harbour and there’s very little green space left. There’s a herd of deer living in the former gasworks site and there’s all sorts of wildlife in there now. I don’t want to see any more building being carried out.”