Portobello Promenade pier designs revealed

An artist's impression of the  Big Things on the Beach pier concept
An artist's impression of the Big Things on the Beach pier concept
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Designs have been unveiled for a new pier at Portobello Promenade – nearly a century after its predecessor was torn down.

Architects said they wanted to create a landmark which would attract beach lovers from across Edinburgh and beyond.

The structure – which would be built next to Pipe Street – could also provide Portobello with a “multi-function” performance and live events space, together with a cafe, meeting rooms and facilities for sports clubs.

Designers and members of public arts trust Big Things on the Beach said initial plans were aimed at “starting a conversation” about how to create much-needed leisure and cultural opportunities.

Graham Acheson, Big Things on the Beach trustee and associate at Smith Scott Mullan Architects, which drew up the proposals, said: “The overall plan is for something iconic and contemporary.

“I think it’s one way of provoking conversation about that as a possible waterfront for the city – it’s about making the most of that as an asset.

“There are various organisations within Portobello that could make use of the pier. The initial feedback on the overall idea of improving the prom and possibly [building] a pier has been positive.”

Designed by Tay Rail Bridge architect Sir Thomas Bouch at a cost of £10,000, the original Portobello Pier was hailed as the finest of its type when it opened in 1871.

But the 1250ft structure required regular repairs due to storm damage and the corrosive effect of sea water on its iron supports.

After the firm that owned the pier fell into liquidation in 1917, a decision was taken to demolish it in December of that year.

If the proposals are realised, the coastal suburb will follow in the footsteps of Redcar in North Yorkshire, which opened a contemporary vertical pier in 2013 after the original was demolished in 1981.

Early stage designs have drawn a mixed response.

Allison Magill, owner of the Dalriada Bar on the promenade, said: “I imagine it would be a contemporary design – I don’t think there’s any point in trying to replicate what was there before.

“It’s a very positive thing for Portobello and I would back it. Business is OK at the moment but we can always do better. Anything that’s going to bring people down to Portobello can only be a good thing.

“We’re still weather dependent so if there was something for people when the weather is bad, that would be better. It would be great to have another reason for people to come to the prom rather than just dog walking.”

Sean Watters, joint secretary at Portobello community council, said: “Some people liked the design and some would like something more traditional, although many traditional piers don’t generate enough money to maintain them. I thought [the design] looked quite good – there’s no point in recreating something. You want to build something of your own time.”