THIRTEEN key Edinburgh sites have been pegged for development under ambitious plans set to “change the whole dynamic” of the Capital.
Blueprints unveiled today show the transformation of swathes of the city into cultural, creative and tech hubs – with long-neglected areas finally lined up for regeneration.
Proposals include revamping Charlotte Square and opening it up to the public year-round in the style of St Andrew Square.
Under this vision, the space – which can usually only be accessed by paying residents – would host bars, events and installations in a bid to attract footfall. City chiefs are also looking to “unlock” disused land down by the Waterfront by acting as a “broker” and cutting deals that encourage landowners to build and redevelop.
Compulsory purchase orders and “right to buy” legislation could be used to snap up land for regeneration.
And leaders are even considering crowdfunding as a means of bankrolling small-scale developments, as well as grants, conventional funding methods and the long-awaited City Deal.
The latest move comes on the back of the successful Edinburgh 12 initiative, which saw massive, multi-million pound projects kick-started at Edinburgh St James, the India Buildings on Victoria Street, King’s Stables Road, New Waverley, the Quartermile and South St Andrew Square.
Construction is ongoing at seven of the 12 sites originally earmarked – delivering 1.3 million sq ft of retail and leisure space and supporting more than 17,400 jobs. Roddy Smith, chief executive of business group Essential Edinburgh, said the new plans would help the city “grow and thrive”.
He said: “You have only got to look at the work under way in the East End to see the positive impact it will have on the economy in terms of tourism and regeneration.
“From our point of view, the Edinburgh 12 has been a great initiative.
“The transformation of South St Andrew Square has been fantastic and we all await with excitement Edinburgh St James. You also have the context of the George Street redevelopment work which went through council last month.
“Adding that all together, you can see it’s a pretty coherent, thought-through strategy to keep development moving while ensuring it enhances the public realm.”
Sites pegged for future development under the new scheme include Granton and Leith waterfronts, Leith Walk, the west end of Princes Street, London Road and Meadowbank, and Newcraighall and the Jewel.
Council bosses also envision a new “innovation corridor” between Lothian Road and Potterrow, unlocking the area as a major tech hub packed full of bustling start-ups.
Elsewhere, they plan to transform the warren of lanes around West Register Street by opening up new thoroughfares and private gardens to the public and bringing neglected buildings into full-time use. This proposal would tie in with the £60 million revamp of “Register Lanes” currently being spearheaded by the Chris Stewart Group, and billed as Edinburgh’s answer to Covent Garden.
The overall project will target land where development is currently held up by multiple landowners, contamination and “hard barriers” such as roads and waterways
Sites that have been “banked” by their owner and left undeveloped indefinitely – including public sector estates – will also be singled out.
Councillor Gavin Barrie, the city’s economy leader, said it was a “thrilling” time to be in Edinburgh, with a number of major projects ongoing.
He said: “The council has been instrumental in helping to unlock the sites included in the original Edinburgh 12. This is delivering more than three million square feet of new commercial space and 1700 new homes, creating many thousands of jobs.”
BioQuarter: “Major healthcare and medical research cluster” at Little France, centred on Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and the University of Edinburgh’s medical school. Offers the “potential to deliver significant new tech space for life sciences companies”.
Craigmillar: Pegged for new housing, along with industrial development at Peffer and King’s Haugh.
East End – Register Lanes: Regeneration of lanes around West Register Street, providing a “gateway” to the new Edinburgh St James development.
West end of Princes Street: New cultural space to “reinforce the leisure offer”.
Edinburgh International: Development hub in West Edinburgh comprising Edinburgh Airport, the International Business Gateway, and the Royal Highland Showground lands. Lined up for housing and offices.
Granton Waterfront: New housing on brownfield sites, along with cultural and creative space in converted buildings.
“Innovation Corridor”: Tech hub on land between Lothian Road and Potterrow.
Leith Walk: Development of ageing industrial buildings by the former tram depot.
Leith Waterfront: Pegged for housing, offices, cultural and creative spaces, and industrial use.
London Road and Meadowbank (pictured): Redevelopment of low- rise buildings and extra housing.
Newcraighall and the Jewel: Development of a number of “major gap sites” – including for industrial uses.
Shotts Line: Residential development along the railway.
Waverley: Scope for further improvements to the station, along with the potential development of nearby sites such as Market Street Car Park.