Leith Street Omni bridge to be reused in Edinburgh, but where?

The Leith Street bridge. Picture: Toby Williams
The Leith Street bridge. Picture: Toby Williams
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IT’S been a prominent feature of one of the Capital’s busiest streets for more than a decade.

But now the criss-crossing steel and glass bridge stretching over Leith Street is set to be removed to make way for the mammoth £850 million St James development.

The long-awaited revamp will see the current unloved shopping centre demolished from May onwards and replaced with luxury apartments, a multi-screen cinema and a glut of new restaurants and shops – with a swirling, 210-bed “ribbon” hotel forming a controversial centrepiece.

But mystery surrounds the fate of the eye-catching crossing that currently links the brutalist shopping block to the car park at Greenside Place.

Unveiled in 2003 as part of the Omni centre development, it has divided opinion over the years despite being widely seen as a vast improvement on its concrete predecessor.

The council, which owns the structure, insists it will be put into storage and then reused elsewhere in the Capital.

But despite fevered speculation, city bosses are keeping their cards close to their chest regarding any future location.

Quizzed by the News, a council spokesman simply said: “The bridge’s future has still to be decided, but we expect it will be reused in Edinburgh.”

He declined to reveal where the wavy walkway would be stored and hinted that many of the details were still up in the air, despite the prospect of demolition looming on the horizon.

Undeterred, we decided to probe a bit further and offer up some suggestions of our own – with the help of a few well-placed sources.

Possible resting places include further down Leith Walk, where it could provide the “missing link” for a planned cycle path and pedestrian walkway between Portobello and Leith.

Or perhaps it could replace proposals for a £1 million bridge across Dalry Road.

The council could even consider extending the structure to provide a safe crossing to Cramond Island, a move that would surely be welcomed by coastguards.

Or what about sprucing it up and creating our answer to London’s Garden Bridge proposals?

Donald Anderson, former city leader and chair of the Friends of Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park, suggests using it to bridge the bypass to help realise plans for a Pentlands to Portobello pathway.

Of course, the cash-strapped council could always scrap it for a quick buck. Unfortunately, the scrap metal value of the 20-tonne structure has been calculated at just £3000 – not quite enough to plug a multi-million-pound funding gap.

alistair.grant@jpress.co.uk