State of the arch proposals for Caltongate site

A SERIES of historic arches would be turned into a strip of shops and galleries, while two new buildings would feature a hotel, flats, a mini supermarket and office space under a multi-million pound vision for part of the Caltongate site.

The city council is drawing up its own masterplan for land and assets it owns after it withdrew them from the wider Caltongate development site because of frustration with administrators Deloitte over delays to agreeing a sale.

Its new vision would see the old garages and storage spaces on East Market Street turned into a series of 18 shops, artist studios, galleries and workshops. A council-owned garage on Cranston Street, which is directly opposite the main entrance to the council's Waverley Court headquarters, would be demolished and replaced by two new mixed-use buildings expected to include a hotel and a combination of homes, offices and retail space.

The former North Canongate Infant School, now known as the Canongate Venture, would also be saved under the new proposals, with a publishing and writers' centre among the uses being considered.

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city's economic development leader, said: "We want to bring forward plans as quickly as we can for assets that were previously part of the Caltongate site."

The city council had agreed to sell the East Market Street arches, which date back to the mid-19th century, to developer Mountgrange for more than 5 million.

The deal, along with the sale of the Cranston Street garage and Canongate Venture building, was never completed and the plans collapsed when the London firm plunged into administration.

Administrator Deloitte had been trying to sell the assets, alongside the sale of the former New Street bus depot, but the council announced in August that it would now look to develop them itself.

It is hoped that proposals for the council-owned assets will help attract a developer to the neighbouring gap site, which remains in Mountgrange administrator Deloitte's control.

Cllr Buchanan said: "I am disappointed by the amount of time that the administrator has taken to deal with the matter. I'd hope our development would encourage others to come forward."

Stewart Taylor, a director at CB Richard Ellis, said: "The council are doing the right thing by not being in the position where they are reliant on other people and getting themselves in a position where they can do it themselves."

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