Waterfront attraction bid blocked by land squabble

Plans to create a visitor centre at Granton which would feature an outdoor swimming pool have been put on hold

Plans to create a visitor centre at Granton which would feature an outdoor swimming pool have been put on hold

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A BID to transform the waterfront at Granton into a continental visitor attraction is being blocked because a council arms-length development company refuses to sell the land, it has been claimed.

The Granton sur Mer project, first unveiled nearly five years ago, would feature an annual garden festival, an arts village with studios created from old sea containers and a public outdoor swimming pool.

Supporters say they have a promise of lottery cash to help make it happen but are being stymied because Waterfront Edinburgh Ltd, a subsidiary of council-owned EDI Ltd, will not sell three plots of land close to West Shore Road.

It is thought an upturn in the property market has raised the value of the land and Waterfront Edinburgh would now prefer to hand over the plots for residential development.

But Shaeron Averbuch, of Art in Architecture, which helped devise the Granton sur Mer proposals, said the project would bring desperately-needed regeneration to a disadvantaged area of the Capital.

She said: “It would bring something different, give a new feel to that part of the city and help to raise the whole area.

“The lottery will fund this project because they can see the merits of it in terms of the design, the community and the environment – but we cannot go any further with it unless we get the land from EDI.”

Michael Borland, chairman of the Granton Improvement Society (GIS), said EDI originally had a valuation on the site of £4 million but that was before the recession. No developer had ever come forward for the site and the latest valuation, obtained jointly by EDI and GIS, was just over £500,000.

Mr Borland said EDI had suggested GIS could have another piece of land, but he said it was too far from bus routes and heavily contaminated.

Mark Harris of Waterfront Edinburgh said: “Our board firmly believes that the regeneration of Granton is best served through residential development on this specific site. We recognise that GIS are disappointed, but have already proposed an alternative to them.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com