First look: Radical £50m plans submitted to transform a section of Leith Walk

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Here is the first look at radical £50 million plans which have been submitted to the city council to transform a section of Leith Walk.

Drum Property Group plans to create a vibrant residential, student and visitor quarter by building a mixed-use facility incorporating a 500-bed student accommodation, a 56-bed hotel, 53 affordable homes, a restaurant, café and retail units.

An artist impression of the proposed development.

An artist impression of the proposed development.

A planning application for the Stead’s Place site has now been lodged by the developer with current tenants’ leases all coming to an end by October next year.

The Evening News can exclusively reveal the revised plans showcasing Drum’s vision to overhaul the site in order to make a dramatic impact on the local community and connecting Leith Walk with the rest of the city. The company revealed it revamped its plans in the wake of protests from campaigners and politicians about the scale, design and impact of the new development.

Included within the revised plans is a new live music venue called ‘Leith Live’ which will replace the popular Leith Depot, whose owners have confirmed will not return to the site.

Graeme Bone, group managing director of Drum, said: “We have listened to the often passionate views of the local traders and community and we understand the importance of maintaining a distinctive and independent feel for this important stretch of Leith Walk – whilst bringing a bold, modern development for a confident and diverse Leith.

The plans incorporate a 56-bedroom hotel.

The plans incorporate a 56-bedroom hotel.

“Our proposals will bring an added dimension to Leith Walk, opening up what is currently an inhospitable industrial site by creating a vibrant, contemporary and accessible community for residents and visitors alike.”

The land was snapped up by Drum last year and has been earmarked for development since 2008 by the city council.

Behind the Leith Walk frontage will be three acres of potential development space linking to Pilrig Park and beyond.

The hotel will be operated by the University of Edinburgh and will include a 9000 sq ft of open leisure space for students, guests and the wider community. A total of 53 affordable one, two and three-bedroom homes will be developed by Places for People. Charity Sikh Sanjog was recently the first existing tenant to confirm its return on completion of the development with its affiliated community enterprise the Punjabi Junction Café. Drum remain in discussions with other traders offering below market value rents.

The planning application has been submitted to the city council.

The planning application has been submitted to the city council.

Artwork created by the community could be incorporated into the fabric of the main buildings, including creating large murals and stain glass windows on prominent corners facing Leith Walk.

It is hoped school children will be involved in the design and production process, creating a legacy in the building.

Mr Bone added: “We want our proposed development to become a blueprint for introducing modern, contemporary design into the urban landscape without sacrificing the individuality and vibrancy that makes Leith unique.

“Our revised proposals will continue the rich tradition of diversity, independence and interest which makes Leith Walk such an exciting destination in which to live, work and visit.”