PLANS to transform the waterfront at Granton have moved a step forward with the signing of a formal agreement between the city council and other public sector organisations pledging to work together on the project.
The council wants to see 4,000 new homes in the area and the National Galleries of Scotland already plans a £75 million open-house archive complex.
Deputy council leader Cammy Day, who is also Labour councillor for the area, said there was a huge opportunity to regenerate the area and create a vibrant new city quarter.
He said: “This can’t just be about putting up 4,000 flats. It needs to be about creating a whole area for people to live and work.”
He also hopes the tram will be extended to Granton with a loop of track from Newhaven to Roseburn which was included in the original tram plans but quickly dropped.
Granton waterfront has been blighted for years by vacant land with only slow and piecemeal development.
But now most of the land has been bought by the council, including the former gas works.
And Councillor Day said there was real interest in what could be done. He has already suggested the iconic gas tower could become an open-air performance area or market stalls.
A drop-in session for members of the public to share their thoughts attracted about 280 people and more consultation is planned for the new year on the vision for the area over the next ten to 15 years.
Cllr Day said: “People are genuinely excited. They want to see something happening with this empty land, they want to see the trams come - and so do we. That will all feed back.”
The housing is expected to be a mix of homes to rent and buy. And Cllr Day said he also hoped it would be a mix of flats and houses. “I don’t want us to end up with a whole lot of flats that block people’s view of the sea,” he said.
Among those signing the agreement along with the council and the National Galleries were Edinburgh College, which backs on to the site, the National Museums of Scotland, which has a collection centre and research base there, and the Scottish Government.
Jacqueline Ridge, director of conservation and collections at the National Galleries, said a positive future for the area was key to their plans for the new collection centre.
She said: “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design this building from scratch. As well as providing a home for our artworks, we want it to be welcoming and inspiring for the community. The project is still in the design stage, but we are already working with local partners as we develop our vision for what this game-changing building might be.”
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “I am delighted to see the ambition, vision and drive to regenerate the Granton Waterfront area.
“It is great to see partners working collaboratively to engage the community, develop the site, and make this a vibrant and exciting part of Edinburgh.”
Forth SNP councillor George Gordon said: “This is an important step for Granton. I very much welcome the new initiative and look forward to gaining local employment and new housing in the area.”