Lloyds to draw up fresh proposals for Fountainbridge

LLOYDS banking group is to create a major new plan for development of the Scottish & Newcastle Fountain Brewery site at Fountainbridge after ditching plans for a bank HQ.

The site, originally acquired by HBOS in April 2008, was originally intended to be redeveloped as an Edinburgh HQ for the bank, bringing together the 6,000 Halifax and Bank of Scotland staff who worked in the city at the time.

But after HBOS was taken over by Lloyds last year, the firm said it had no plans to use the derelict land. Lloyds has its own Edinburgh HQ on the Mound.

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Lloyds has now applied to the city council for permission to develop a masterplan for the site, which lies alongside the Union Canal. It is thought it would no longer become a purely office-based development, eventually featuring residential properties including student accommodation, retail units, a hotel and a care home.

If approval is granted, Lloyds will work with the city council, project manager CB Richard Ellis and Alan Murray Architects on the masterplan.

It will also work to demolish the existing structures on the 13-acre site and prepare it for building, but the property is then likely to be put up for sale so that other developers can carry out the construction phase.

Lloyds group property director Paul Baker said: "While we will not be proceeding with this development ourselves, we will work closely with Edinburgh council to help it move the project forward."

Tom Buchanan, convener of the economic development committee, added: "We are pleased that Lloyds Banking Group recognise the potential of the site and will continue to work closely with them as plans are developed to bring this land back into use for the city, thus ensuring the ongoing regeneration of the Fountainbridge area."

It was reported last month that the site was to become the heart of a new hub for the creative industries and performing arts.

The canal district was said to be due to be home to an iconic new cultural building for performers, artists, designers, computer game experts and architects. It was also suggested that new "cultural quarter" would include indoor and outdoor performance areas.

The area is already at the heart of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which opens on Wednesday, and hosts many of its events at the Fountain Park Cineworld.

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The site was bought from Scottish and Newcastle in 2008 after a fierce bidding war, in a deal reported to be worth around 100 million.

Plans for a major new office complex were initially put on hold by the banking crisis, and shelved completely when Lloyds took over.