Plan for £150m culture quarter at old brewery site

An artist's impression of how the McEwan's plot would look. Picture: 7N Architects

An artist's impression of how the McEwan's plot would look. Picture: 7N Architects

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A £150 MILLION ‘cultural quarter’ and housing development on a former brewery site is set to become the new home of the Filmhouse.

New plans unveiled for the old McEwan’s Fountain Brewery plot include 350 homes, a 130-bedroom boutique hotel as well as office and retail space.

It is understood the Fountainbridge gap site is the “preferred” option for the Filmhouse – home of the Edinburgh International Film ­Festival.

An alternative new home for the historic cinema is also being explored in the city centre – behind the National Museum of Scotland and the Festival Theatre.

A masterplan for the regeneration project, drawn up by arms-length council firm EDI Group Ltd, has been lodged at City Chambers and it is hoped planning permission will be approved later in the year.

It is thought the ambitious scheme would regenerate an area deprived of a major revamp since the brewery closure in 2004.

Around 1400 jobs are expected to be created from the development.

A spokesman for EDI said construction of the new homes would help “alleviate housing pressures” but also “create a new cultural quarter to include a new venue for the Edinburgh Printmakers, in the renovated North British Rubber Company building”.

Cafes, restaurants and retail space are central to the proposals, with a parade of shops and eateries planned north of the Union Canal.

Councillor Frank Ross, chair of the EDI Group Ltd, said the blueprints “fit perfectly” with the council’s economic strategy and its pledge to “strengthen communities”.

He said: “It is important that we work with local people to regenerate this area, to ensure that it delivers excellent new facilities, housing and business opportunities for those looking to set up new businesses and enterprises in the area.”
Lynn Smith, senior development manager at The EDI Group Ltd, said: “The biggest outcome from our engagement with the local community was their desire for a mix of housing in the area, in order to create a demographically mixed and resilient community.

“The proposed plans demonstrate our – and the community’s – desire to create a vibrant community, with space to relax, work and live”.

Fountain Name sprang up from the waters

A HUGE tract of land became available in Fountainbridge following the closure of McEwan’s Fountain Brewery in 2004. The name of the brewery and the area was derived from the spring waters in the vicinity. The old stone building has since been razed to the ground and developments – including housing and student accommodation – have sprung up in the area. Among the plans for the site is the relocation of Boroughmuir High School – a £35 million new campus expected to be unveiled by August 2016.

Now a gapsite, the McEwan’s Fountain Brewery was a staple of the area for 150 years.

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