Landmark milestone in plans to turn Edinburgh’s historic Caledonian Brewery into 170 green homes

Plans encompass “healthy mix of different types of accommodation” including affordable housing.

Efforts to turn the historic and defunct Caledonian Brewery in the west of Edinburgh into nearly 170 homes have moved a step closer to reality with the submission of key paperwork seeking to secure planning permission.

It was announced in December that Heineken UK had shaken hands on a deal to sell the asset to regeneration specialist Artisan Real Estate, which has, following a “comprehensive” three-month consultation programme, unveiled its proposals to develop the historic brewery site into a sustainable, low-carbon residential development delivering 168 new homes.

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Now, a major planning application has been submitted to the City of Edinburgh Council for the homes-led transformation of the spot in Shandon that has remained dormant and unused for the past 18 months. Around a fifth of the homes will be housed in the existing listed buildings, while additional development proposals will “respect and reflect” the original footprint of the brewery – including recreating the skyline of the maltings buildings that was demolished following a fire almost 30 years ago. There is also still brewing equipment on site, and Artisan intends to upcycle as much of this as possible.

The Caledonian Brewery was founded in 1869 by George Lorimer and Robert Clark, following designs by renowned Edinburgh architect Robert Hamilton Paterson, who also designed the Royal Scots War Memorial in the city’s St Giles Cathedral. It has changed hands various times since, including being operated by Heineken from 2008 following its acquisition of the UK assets of then-owner Scottish & Newcastle, and was the capital’s last major operational brewery before Heineken UK ceased production and put the site on the market in 2022.

Artisan said the redevelopment (which has been subject to some disapproval from locals) complements its portfolio of “sensitive” urban regeneration projects, including the New Waverley mixed-use development in Edinburgh’s Old Town and part of the World Heritage Site, and recently completing the transformation of Glasgow’s historic A-Listed Custom House into a hotel quarter.

David Westwater, Artisan’s MD for Scotland, said: “Artisan’s development proposals intend to respect, preserve, and tell the story of the Caledonian Brewery. The feedback from our consultation events was overwhelmingly supportive and positive.

"There was a significant and long-established affinity, amongst local residents especially, for the historic brewery buildings, which will be preserved to form the heart of our new development – including the spectacular 130-foot red brick chimney which towers over the local community. We intend to maintain and celebrate as much of the brewery’s unique heritage as possible, and this includes marking the site of the two original springs on site which originally provided fresh water for the brewery process.

The plans include preserving the 'spectacular' 130-foot red brick chimney on site. Picture: contributed.The plans include preserving the 'spectacular' 130-foot red brick chimney on site. Picture: contributed.
The plans include preserving the 'spectacular' 130-foot red brick chimney on site. Picture: contributed.

“There was also significant support for our plans create a much-needed sustainable, low-carbon residential community on the site, with 168 homes providing a healthy mix of different types of accommodation. This will include a mix of one, two, and three-bed family apartments through to duplex units and mews houses, together with affordable housing in line with the City of Edinburgh Council policy.”

He also said Artisan’s plans have garnered “widespread” support from the local business community, with three-quarters of 30 neighbouring businesses welcoming plans to bring new investment, interest, and people into the area.

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