Norman Springford is one of Scotland’s city’s most successful business people, having built his fortune with the Apex Hotels group.
His success has been, in part, based on being associated with one of the most picturesque cities in the world. Now he wants to repay the Capital with an act of philanthropy.
The plan, outlined in the News today, would see several millions pounds pledged by Mr Springford to help fund a replacement for the Ross Bandstand, a crumbling edifice that sits in the centre of Princes Street Gardens in the shadow of the Castle.
There in no more iconic site in the city and yet this building is not fit for purpose. Year after year it is patched up for Hogmanay celebrations which are hampered by its lack of facilities for performers and audience alike. Many complaints have been raised and plans proposed, but none have come close to getting off the ground.
The proposal is that a working group should be set up which can take forward the idea and encourage a design competition for a new bold structure.
Many hurdles will have to be overcome.
Princes Street Gardens are governed by strict planning rules that require approval from MSPs at Holyrood. And the design itself is likely to be controversial simply because of the importance of the location. Other funding partners will also have to be approached as the cost of the new structure could be between £10 million and £30m.
But, given the state of the council’s finances, will the city ever have a better opportunity to upgrade this eyesore?
Provided the idea is properly managed, the public is consulted, and our best architects are engaged, we should be able, collectively, to provide a great new arena for current and future generations to enjoy. This is a rare opportunity. We should examine the Springford proposals thoroughly and push ahead.