Play park plan to transform disused site of old gasholder

An artist's impression of the proposed new play park
An artist's impression of the proposed new play park
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FRESH moves have been made to tear down the iconic Granton gasholder and replace it with a fitness trail and play park.

A previous bid to demolish the redundant 150ft tower was thrown out by Edinburgh City Council and the Scottish Government in 2011.

But now the National Grid has again drawn up plans to bulldoze the structure, branded part of Granton’s “heart” by councillors who ruled on the previous application.

The new bid would see a children’s play facility and outdoor fitness equipment built on the site of the B-listed gasholder.

National Grid has previously said that it would cost £5.2 million to refurbish the structure – as well as £200,000 a year to paint – while demolition and decontaminating the land would cost just £2.5m.

It said the plans would see the environmental footprint of the site cut in half, with steel from the gasholder being used to build the equipment.

Community leaders said they hoped that after the last application failed, the gasholder’s owner would come up with ambitious plans to use the steel structure as part of the 110-acre Forthquarter housing site.

Council planning officials had initially recommended the demolition proposed by the National Grid in 2011, but were overruled by councillors.

Developers appealed to the Scottish Government, but they too rejected the move.

Forth councillor Cammy Day, left, said: “I met with National Grid representatives following the last application’s refusal and told them that in terms of future proposals the Granton community must be consulted and included.

“It is therefore disappointing to find that this new application has been submitted without discussion with either local representatives or the 
community.

“Various redundant gasholders around the world in places such as Dublin and Vienna have been retained and used in exciting ways so it can be done.”

Planning agents behind the National Grid blueprint have told the city council that the Granton community wanted the gasholder to be 
demolished.

In his report to planning officials, Adam Richardson of the WYG Group said: “Extensive consideration was given to retaining the listed building in both 2001-2 and 2007-8. On both occasions, the combination of the structure’s construction characteristics, size, contamination and costs combined to render any conceivable reuse unviable.

“There is little or no 
community support for retention of the gasholder.”

But heritage watchdog The Cockburn Association denied that claim on social networking site Twitter, asking its 2500 followers: “Is the Granton gas holder ‘an outdated relic, a local eyesore and liability to the local community’ as claimed by National Grid’s agent?”

It added: “They could spend one per cent of their £1.1 billion pre-tax profit on restoration.”

The gasholder was last painted in 1995, but was not fully decommissioned and taken out of service until 2002.

It was designed and built between 1898 and 1902 and Granton Gas Works was at one time Scotland’s largest gas producer. The site was chosen because of its transport links with the North British Railway and Caledonian Railway as well as its proximity to Granton Harbour.

A National Grid spokesman said: “National Grid has submitted an improved application to remove the Granton gasholder, following further consultation with the local council.

“Through our improved application, National Grid will be able to ensure the history and heritage of the area is retained. We continue to be committed to doing all that we can to ensure that the Forthquarter development achieves its full potential.”