Three out of four members of the public are in favour of more year-round events being staged in Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens, according to an opinion poll instigated by the developers behind a proposed £25 million revamp of the historic park.
The survey for the Ross Development Trust found more than two-thirds of people were in favour of a wide-ranging transformation of the gardens, which have been largely unchanged since their creation in the 19th century.
The “Quaich Project,” which the trust is pursuing with the city council, would see a Hobbit House-style replacement for the existing Ross Bandstand, a two-storey visitor centre and hospitality complex overlooking Edinburgh Castle and a permanent cafe near the Ross Fountain.
The Ross Development Trust, set up by Apex Hotels founder Norman Springford to pursue the development, said 68 per cent of respondents backed the overall vision for the historic park, with 74 per centre backing the new-look events pavilion and amphitheatre.
However 27 per cent were opposed or concerned over the scale of changes proposed in the gardens, with nearly a quarter against their use for year-round events. Arts events and “celebrations” were also rated the least important use for the gardens, after nature – the most popular – reflection and community.
Large-scale ticketed events of varying capacities were staged across 22 days in the gardens last year, the largest number for more than a decade, with some closing the gardens to non ticket-holders.
The Quaich Project said the proposed replacement of the “outdated and inflexible” facilities at the existing bandstand, which dates back to 1935, would “open up possibilities” for the expanded use of the park throughout the year.
Under the redevelopment, the gardens would continue to host events like the “Summer Sessions” pop and rock concerts, the Fly Open Air dance music festival, the festival fireworks concert, the city’s Hogmanay celebrations and other one-off events.
Income from ticketed events would be used to help subsidise more use of the gardens for smaller-scale live music, theatre, dance, comedy and children’s events, as well as help maintain them properly.
According to the online survey, in which 1,077 people took part, 74 per cent of people said they would would also visit the gardens either as much as or more than at present if the plans go ahead.
Nearly 90 per cent of those who took part in the survey were Edinburgh residents.
David Ellis, the Quaich Project’s managing director, said: “Currently, the Ross Bandstand is outdated and inflexible and the plans we’re putting forward open up possibilities for a whole range of community groups and activities around the year.”