Former Edinburgh nightclub set to become new home for artworks

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Planners have backed proposals to extend a city centre art gallery into a disused nightclub.

Edinburgh City Council officials have recommended that plans by the Fruitmarket Gallery on Market Street to refurbish and extend the current art space into a next-door listed building, should be approved at a meeting on Wednesday.

The former Electric Circus nightclub on Market Street is set to be refurbished.

The former Electric Circus nightclub on Market Street is set to be refurbished.

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The former Electric Circus nightclub closed its doors in March 2017 – but the building was originally developed in the 1930s as a wholesale fruit and vegetable warehouse until 1972 when the nightclub was opened.

The £3.75 million proposals include a double height space similar to the Tate Tanks in London and will increase accessibility as well as space for installations, performances and collaborations, if approved by councillors.

The project will also create a dedicated spaces for engagement, as well as back of house, workshop and storage facilities. Some of the existing gallery activities are set to be moved to the extension.

Fruitmarket Gallery director Fiona Bradley said: “We are very excited about the project, which has opportunities for artists and audiences at its heart.

Another artist's impression of what it would look like.

Another artist's impression of what it would look like.

“It will deliver an inspirational new space for creative, collaborative working and renovate the Fruitmarket’s existing spaces, ensuring that we can continue to operate at the forefront of contemporary culture for decades to come.”

The applications for change of use from a nightclub into an art gallery will include new visitor toilets. A new internal access ramp will form a connection between the existing gallery to the east, helping to address a number of changes in floor level within the listed building. Production offices for the gallery including staff facilities will occupy the western part of the first floor.

The existing two shop frontages, currently has the windows blanked out due to the premises being used as a nightclub. A new entrance will be provided by the Fruitmarket Gallery with the existing columns retained.

The current main entrance door and glass block panel entrance will be removed and replaced by an automated glazed aluminium and steel door to improve accessibility. The proposals received no objections from members of the public.

Officers have recommended that councillors grant planning permission for the change of use application, an associated listed building consent application and proposals to refurbish the existing gallery space.

In a report to councillors, officers said: “The proposed expansion of the existing gallery into an adjacent listed building will result in an attractive street frontage and a high quality of design that safeguards the character of the location.

“The proposed change of use of the building from a nightclub to art gallery is considered appropriate to the nature of the city centre location, will not result in adverse impacts to the amenity of neighbours.”