THE first phase of a £30 million masterplan for the re-development of the Royal Highland Centre has been given the green light.
Plans for an access road at the Ingliston site have finally been approved, allowing the whole project to move forward after almost a year of delays.
The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, which runs the showground complex and organises the annual show, received approval for its expansion plan in April last year. Chief executive Stephen Hutt believes that work could begin within months on the first phase of the revamp.
Mr Hutt said: “There have been some issues of detail to be discussed with the planners but these have now been resolved and we look forward to making a start on construction, probably following this year’s Royal Highland Show in June.
“The boulevard will be a main artery serving the Royal Highland Centre and its completion is pivotal to the other developments envisaged for the east of the showground. It is heartening that we can now start to progress the plans to transform our grounds into a world-class exhibition and event venue.
“At the moment our masterplan is the only major ongoing development in the west of Edinburgh area. With our proximity to Edinburgh Airport, we are playing an influential role in establishing an international gateway to the Capital and Scotland.”
The revamp will feature a new 165-bedroom hotel plus a major new exhibition hall, an agricultural centre of excellence and a new main pavilion overlooking the showground arena. These additions are expected to see the economic benefits generated by the show soar from its current level of around £75m.
The tree-lined boulevard will be around 290 metres long and more than 30 metres wide and will allow for the mass movement of vehicles and pedestrians along an access route which will serve as the spine off which the eastern section of the land will be organised and restructured. The boulevard will eventually run from Eastfield Road, the main approach road to Edinburgh Airport, to a new entrance at the east side of the centre.
In 2003, the Aviation White Paper flagged up the proposed expansion of Edinburgh Airport, forcing the RHASS to consider relocating. With the scaling back of the airport’s plans, however, a 20-year masterplan was drawn up to improve and expand the present facilities at Ingliston. This was submitted for planning in 2010 and approved in April 2011.