One of the largest regeneration schemes ever to take place in Edinburgh city centre has moved a major step forward with the publication of a Â£200 million plan to develop the former Scottish & Newcastle brewery in Fountainbridge.
A planning application submitted to the City of Edinburgh Council by developers Fountain North Ltd reveals ambitious proposals to develop 900,000 sq ft of the former McEwan´s brewery site, sandwiched between Edinburgh´s West Approach Road and Fountainbridge.
Up to 2,500 jobs could be created by the Fountain North development plan which combines 160,000 sq ft of high quality office space with 650 new homes, retail outlets and a new public park. The proposals incorporate ground-breaking environmental and landscaping benefits for an area which became the city´s largest regeneration site when it became available last year. These include wide tree-lined boulevards, accessible green spaces, pedestrian and cycle routes, an innovative mix of family and city-style homes and a radical plan to create underground car-parking for some 650 vehicles.
The developers, Fountain North Ltd, bring together a consortium of interests with a strong pedigree in city centre regeneration, including AMA (New Town) Ltd, Grosvenor and the Royal Bank of Scotland. The masterplan, designed by Edinburgh-based architects Oberlanders, has taken almost a year to complete and closely follows the framework recommended by the Council´s Development Brief for the Fountainbridge area, published in November 2004.
John Irvine, Director of Grosvenor in Scotland, believes the proposals provide Edinburgh with vibrant new urban quarter, ideally placed to allow the natural expansion of the city centre. 'We played a major part in the consultation process which led to the Development Brief,' he says, 'and we listened to what the local community and the Council wanted for the area.
'What we are now proposing is a design which performs two important functions. It will create a landmark development forming a high profile gateway for the city centre from the west. It will also provide the city with a new and accessible urban community, seamlessly linking Bruntsfield and Viewforth in the south with the strategically important transport hub of Haymarket to the north.
'The result will be an attractive and high quality environment in which to live or work, linking together surrounding communities and regenerating an area which has been excluded from the urban fabric of Edinburgh for more than 150 years.'
The eight-acre site covered by the masterplan has always enjoyed a critical role in the industrial development of Edinburgh. By the early 19th Century, Fountainbridge was a densely populated industrial area, benefiting from the excellent transport links provided by the railway and Union Canal. William McEwan first established a brewery and bottling plant there in 1856, and by the1880s it had expanded to 12 acres, including the current development site.
The brewery became part of Scottish Brewers in 1931, with the subsequent merging to create Scottish & Newcastle Breweries in 1960 instigating a thorough modernisation of the plant, creating much of what remains there today. The north site was put up for sale by S&N during 2003 due to a rationalisation of the S&N bottling and distribution functions.
The Fountain North development plans are ambitious in terms of both size and scope and are intended to have a positive impact on the expansion of the city centre. Two wide tree-lined boulevards, one with restricted vehicle access, will cut through the development from north to south taking traffic away from the residential areas and creating two new junctions on the Western Approach Road. This will provide a natural calming for traffic as it reaches the city centre, at the same time creating a striking urban gateway for the west of the city centre.
High quality office developments will provide a visible frontage on to Fountainbridge and the West Approach Road which will also incorporate retail outlets an