Radio DJ wants new Ross Bandstand to be public space

Designs have been submitted from all over the world. Picture: Contributed.
Designs have been submitted from all over the world. Picture: Contributed.
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BBC Radio Scotland DJ Vic Galloway today lead calls for the new concert arena planned for Princes Street Gardens to be a “people’s space” which will be open and accessible to every resident in the Capital.

The well-known broadcaster, who is known for championing Scottish music, welcomed the plans to create a £25 million Pavillion to replace the ageing Ross Bandstand. But he warned that an opportunity would be missed if the city failed to create a space that was not accessible for all the people of the city to use.

He said: “In my work as a BBC presenter I’ve been lucky enough to compere the main stage at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations on that very stage in front of thousands, and had an absolute blast.

“Despite this, I’ve always thought the space was criminally under used for music and entertainment, so I’m glad to hear there are plans to develop something more permanent in such an iconic setting.

“However, I just hope those making the ultimate decision consider that this park does actually belong to the people of Edinburgh, so proper care and consultation must be taken before any firm plans are laid and construction begins.

“Although there is huge scope for a wonderful architectural and cultural addition to the city, there is also the potential to create an ill-fitting eyesore that ruins what already looks beautiful and suits the space that we all know and love.”

Vic spoke out after seven architecture teams from around the world revealed competing visions for the project.

Bruce Findlay, former manager of Simple Minds, echoed the DJ’s sentiments, saying: “There is no doubt the bandstand badly needs a makeover, but it must remain an attractive people’s space to be used by the community first and at special times for Hogmanay and maybe summer concerts like those in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow.

“I don’t see this space as our Hydro but as something unique more like a Greek Theatre or Hollywood Bowl, but quintessentially Edinburgh.”

A snap poll carried out by the Evening News following publication of the first images of the architect’s plans saw two grass-covered structures, designed by US practice wHY and UK-based Flanagan Lawrence, emerge as the most popular with 5400 votes and 5000 votes respectively. They have been nicknamed the “Hobbit Houses” for their sunken, grass-roofs.

So far 27,000 people have had their say in the News’ poll, with the rival designs currently on display at the City Art Centre.

The winning design, expected to be announced in August, will ultimately be decided by a panel of experts from the hotel developer bankrolling the new “Ross Pavilion”.

Norman Springford, founder of the Apex Hotels group, has been in talks with the city council for several years about reviving the fortunes of West Princes Street Gardens by replacing the existing bandstand, which dates back to 1935.

Despite its prime location it is now almost unusable for major events due to its run-down condition. The new name will honour the legacy of whisky tycoon William Henry Ross, who gifted the first bandstand to the city in 1877.