Irvine Welsh backs new £60m Edinburgh cinema with five screens and rooftop restaurant

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Irvine Welsh has given the thumbs up to the proposed £60m cinema complex that would become the home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The Centre for the Moving Image (CMI) submitted plans for the proposed New Filmhouse on Festival Square, Lothian Road, last week.

Projected to be a futuristic carbon-neutral “film temple” designed by Richard Murphy Architects, it is estimated that the New Filmhouse could attract more than 800,000 individual visits every year.

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The proposed new entertainment venue would include five screens, a theatre, rooftop restaurant and event space.

Irvine Welsh has backed plans for the New Filmhouse cinema.Irvine Welsh has backed plans for the New Filmhouse cinema.
Irvine Welsh has backed plans for the New Filmhouse cinema.

Trainspotting author Welsh said of the plans: “Edinburgh can’t remain bereft of cultural ambition. A custom-built Filmhouse would put the city on a par with some of the great cinema capitals of the world.

“It would be a marvellous resource for our community and provide a fitting home for the world’s oldest international film festival.”

A decision is expected by early summer 2021. If successful, construction could begin in 2023 for completion in 2025.

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Richard Murphy, who has been pursuing plans for a new home for the Filmhouse cinema and the city’s film festival for more than 15 years, said the £60 million development would rectify an anomaly, which has left arguably the most popular art form without its own “monument” in Edinburgh.

The architect, who designed the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, the Dundee Contemporary Arts centre and an extension to Perth Theatre, said the New Filmhouse would “finally bring much needed life” to Festival Square, a controversial public space between the Usher Hall and the Sheraton Grand Hotel, which dates back to the 1980s.

Mr Murphy said: “This proposal gives film in Scotland a building as significant and as prominent as those that exist for all the other arts in Edinburgh. It is an acknowledgement that film is the only art form without its ‘temple’.

“It is also an attempt to ‘solve’ the problem of Festival Square, which was created from a former railway goods yard as part of a wider masterplan. A new Filmhouse, the only arts building that opens its doors from 9am to 1am for continual performances, has the potential to finally bring much-needed life to the space.”

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