Market sets out stalls after planners give green light

Artists' impressions show how the new market will look when it sets up in Festival Square. Picture: comp

Artists' impressions show how the new market will look when it sets up in Festival Square. Picture: comp

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DOZENS of market stalls, picnic tables and a huge bouncy castle are among the attractions set to breathe new life into a “forgotten” civic square in the city centre.

The best of Scottish produce will be sold at Festival Square in a series of new seasonal markets set to be held in summer, winter and Easter as part of drive to rejuvenate the under-used plaza

Crafts and fresh food will be served from 18 wooden pods while deck chairs and picnic tables will be dotted around the Lothian Road square under plans set to launch this Saturday after planners gave the green light to the project. It is understood dining favourites such as Earthy, Nusou, Love Sushi and Highland Hogroasts will be among the food stalls while chic designers Fabhatrix, and Catherine Aitken Bags will also have a presence on site.

The set up will be complemented by a huge enclosed “Airpuddle” children’s attraction – described as an “interactive jumping airshell”. Run by Leith-based Nest Events, it is hoped the new concept will prove popular with nearby office workers as well as locals and visitors.

Shona Donaldson, one of the firm’s directors, said Festival Square had been “dark and barren for a long time”. She said: “I think it is going to be great, and will revitalise that area and breathe new life into it. It will be great for the businesses to have delicious food outside.”

Under the proposals, the market will be open for about ten weeks in the summer, six weeks at Christmas and between two and three weeks in Easter.

A design statement submitted with the planning application to the city council said the venutre would revive an “under-used” and “austere” square. If successful, organisers hope to almost double the number of market stalls to 31.

A giant TV installed at Festival Square in 2009 to attract crowds to watch live sport has received mixed reviews – though hundreds turned out to watch Andy Murray win the Wimbledon final last year. It may now show “full motion images” and community content the BBC ended its contract with the council selling it to a private firm.

Tristan Nesbitt, general manager of the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa which fronts on to the square, welcomed the new proposals. He said: “The hotel welcomes this initiative that aims to draw more people to Festival Square and bring this vibrant cultural quarter to life.”

john.connell@edinburghnews.com