Is demolition the next stop for Haymarket?

DEMOLISHING the grade A-listed Haymarket Station is among the options being considered to create a new transport hub in the west of the city.

Offices, homes and shops could feature at the busy junction under three different schemes - costing up to 350 million - put forward by council chiefs.

Striking images released today show how Haymarket is set to be transformed to create better access for trains, buses, taxis and trams if the scheme goes ahead.

A much-needed revamp of station facilities, including a glass roof for the concourse, in addition to improved pedestrian links across the Haymarket area is also being suggested.

It is thought between 30m and 50m of public money would be needed but the rest of the cash will come from private backers, with work likely to start in 2014.

If the option to demolish the historic railway station and neighbouring Ryries pub is pursued it is expected to be met with fierce opposition from heritage groups.

When the idea was first mooted in 2003, bodies such as the Cockburn Association demanded the 164-year-old station be retained.

With almost four million people passing through each year, Haymarket has become one of the busiest train stations in the country and this figure is set to more than double in the next 20 years.

Council chiefs today stressed that nothing has been decided as they put the three schemes out for consultation.

But they said a revamp of the wider Haymarket area is essential.

Andrew Holmes, director of the council's city development department, said: "Edinburgh's Haymarket is already a key local and national transport hub.

"The station is getting busier and busier and changes are needed to ensure that this space can accommodate the growing demands and that it is compatible with the proposed tram scheme.

"The three proposed options cover a wide spectrum, from the limited development of the transport interchange to the full redevelopment of the whole site.

"Our goal is to make sure that any works are effective for the area and the people who use it.

"I would urge people to get involved and let us know how they would like the area to look, and how to get the best use from it in years to come."

Option A put forward by the council includes an indication of where the Hearts FC war memorial could be moved to.

The monument is likely to have to move if the tram line is built and organisers have already said they are keen to move it to a more prominent and accessible site.

Plans to revamp the area around Haymarket Station were first put forward four years ago.

A total of 12 options were whittled down to a short-list of three and officials today said a combination of all three could be pursued depending on the consultation.

Any redevelopment will need to fit in with plans put forward by Network Rail to build a new footbridge with stairs and lifts down to each platform.

If the city's tram scheme goes ahead then a stop will be built in the station car park.

The consultation starts today and will last until June 22, with briefings for local residents and businesses.

Public exhibitions will be shown at Haymarket Station from May 31 to June 4 in a bid to get the views of the thousands of commuters passing through every day.

A survey of over 1200 passengers at Haymarket Station found nearly all respondents rated the facilities at the station as poor.

OPTION A

Estimated cost 150m-200m

A mixture of the old and new, this option would see the transport interchange built alongside new shops, offices and homes to the south and west of the station.

Crucially, it would involve retaining the two listed buildings, Haymarket Station and Ryries Bar.

Pedestrians navigating the busy Haymarket road junction would also benefit from more simplified crossing places.

Improvements to the station would include a refurbishment of both platform and concourse levels, with more floorspace for extra shops.

A covered ground-level concourse with a glass roof would form what the council has described as the focal point of the interchange.

The glass roof would extend over the rail tracks and also enclose the platforms.

Option A would be constructed in phases.

OPTION B

Estimated cost 250m-350m

Easily the most contentious choice on offer, this option would involve the demolition of both listed buildings and the most substantial level of redevelopment.

A glass office and retail block would dominate the Haymarket junction to the north.

The rest of the proposed development would cover a much larger area to the south, west and east of the station than in option A.

Shops, offices and homes feature heavily and a new station would have to be built, including a substantially enlarged covered concourse.

OPTION C

Estimated cost 30m-50m

Option C is to build the transport interchange on its own without the extensive offices and shops outlined in the other options.

This would see Haymarket Station refurbished, including creating a low-level glass covered concourse to provide access to the tram, bus and taxi stops.

The station's existing facilities would also be upgraded to ensure it complies with the Disability Discrimination Act requirements.