Work to begin in weeks on Edinburgh's first new purpose-built concert hall for more than a century

Work is to begin within weeks on Edinburgh’s first new purpose-built concert hall for more than a century.

Royal Bank of Scotland has handed over the site behind its historic New Town headquarters, where the city’s new concert hall is to be constructed to the charity behind the development, IMPACT.

The site earmarked for the new Dunard Centre between St Andrews Square and St James Quarter is currently occupied by empty offices, which will be razed to make way for the 1,000-capacity venue.

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Royal Bank of Scotland marked the transfer of the land on Thursday, clearing the final step to allow work to begin preparing the New Town site for the construction of Dunard Centre which will begin later in 2023. The Royal Bank site has now been transferred in a long lease of the land behind Dundas House. It is expected that all clearance work will be completed later in 2023 and that work will begin on the new concert hall soon after.

Alison Rose and Gavin Reid mark the site handover Photo Paul Chappells

The music venue will be the new home of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a principal venue for the Edinburgh International Festival. With both organisations supporting and contributing to the year-round education and outreach programme. It was given the green light by Edinburgh’s planning authorities in November 2021 is set transform the city’s cultural offering with the construction of its first purpose built concert hall in over 100 years.

Alison Rose, chief executive of the NatWest Group, of which the Royal Bank of Scotland is part, visited the site with Gavin Reid, Co-Chair of IMPACT Scotland and Chief Executive of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, to mark the moment the site is handed over.

Alison Rose said: “Edinburgh is a global capital and world stage for international arts, culture and music. The Dunard Centre will provide further space to continue that tradition and offer further opportunity for more musicians and artists to develop and create. This project is a great example of what can be achieved with close collaboration across the city’s public and private sectors. Royal Bank of Scotland is delighted to play a part in helping bring this project to life.”

Gavin Reid said: “Together, we are building a bold and brilliant venue which is an expression of faith in our city, our country and our future. Through this final design stage we are enjoying the challenge of ensuring excellence in every surface, corridor, seat and handrail. Every detail of the building will be finely tuned to make sure that concert going is an inspirational and exhilarating experience.”

The project will be led by award winning David Chipperfield Architects and Nagata Acoustics.

Funding for the centre is through substantial philanthropic donations, including the visionary support of Dunard Fund, and underpinned by £25 million support from the Scottish and UK governments and the City of Edinburgh Council, as part of the City Region Deal.

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Royal Bank of Scotland is supporting the project by providing a long-term lease for the land which sits directly behind Dundas House on St Andrew Square. A campaign is underway to secure the remaining funds required before construction begins later in 2023.