Leading architect Sir Terry Farrell set out the idea of a ten-mile “boardwalk” when he was the Capital’s design champion in 2004, but little was done to take it forward.
Now there are calls for the initiative to be restarted to breathe new life into the seafront.
Eddie Tait, who opened the Boardwalk Beach Club cafe in Marine Drive, Silverknowes, in 2016 – its name inspired by Sir Terry’s proposal – wants to create a botanical garden on the foreshore and bring back playing fields on Gyspy Brae.
He said: “More people are now coming to this part of the city and everyone loves this location. But unfortunately it has been disregarded for a long time.”
He said a lot could be done at relatively low cost. “The potential is huge,” he said. “We would like to take over the foreshore immediately outside the cafe and create spectacular gardens. David Paterson, who used to be deputy director of horticulture at the Botanic Garden and whom I’ve known for 35 years, has said he would do it for nothing.
“I’d also like to see the playing fields reinstated and the grassy slopes on the foreshore replaced with terraces. Potentially you could then have large scale events in the area.”
He said a former head of Visit Britain had been to the cafe and admired the views. “She couldn’t believe she had never seen a postcard of the area. In any other country this would be a hugely recognised thoroughfare.”
Lothians Tory MSP Miles Briggs called for a summit to bring residents, local businesses and community groups together to discuss the possibilities.
He said: “There are a few businesses I’ve been speaking to who are really keen to get things going down there.
“A lot of other places have really thought about their waterfront – I think we’re missing out on an opportunity.
“It’s a part of Edinburgh we’re not utilising to its full capacity. Clearly, given the financial situation the council is not going to have a pot of money. But there are lots of organisations and businesses and if we get people together, ideas might start flying.”
The original plan included barbecue facilities on the seafront west of Granton Harbour and also behind Leith docks; a new beach between Granton and Newhaven harbours; a new lighthouse park at Western Harbour; an iconic new bridge between Leith docks and Western Harbour; a plaza and beach activity area one the eastern edge of Leith docks; a new bridge and elevated walkway at Seafield; and possible play facilities near the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home.
It also featured shelters, food and drink kiosks, water fountains, toilets and public works of art at various points along the route.
Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Eddie and the Boardwalk Beach Club have done wonders to attract tourists and locals alike to that part of the promenade.
“I share his vision to see a vibrant economy on that front in the same way they have at Portobello. It would be another jewel in Edinburgh’s tourism crown. People regard the views of the islands in the Forth as some of the most spectacular in Scotland, but we don’t do enough the promote that.”
Economy convener Gavin Barrie said the council appreciated the potential and value of Edinburgh’s waterfront and had already delivered the promenade between Silverknowes and Granton.
He said it intended to complete the route as set out in the vision. “This, however, is a long-term project and requires further funding to be secured.”
Cllr Barrie added: “The promenade is just one part of the ongoing regeneration proposals in Edinburgh Waterfront. It will continue to be the focus for the development of hundreds of new affordable homes, business space, and a range of leisure, community and cultural opportunities. This investment will undoubtedly transform Edinburgh’s waterfront into a thriving hub for business to locate and invest.”