No rock-solid opening date for climbers

DEVELOPERS behind Scotland’s largest adventure centre on the outskirts of Edinburgh today revealed they still have not got a confirmed opening date.

The 16 million Adventure Centre, initially expected to open its doors early last year, has been dogged by delays including its Millennium Dome-style roof being ripped off in a storm last April.

The cost of the project - which is mostly privately funded - has more than doubled from 7m when the plans were unveiled in late 2001, and it now faces opening up to a year and a half late.

Today, the group behind the project said it hoped to open in summer, but conceded there was still no launch date set in concrete.

The Adventure Centre will incorporate the National Rock Climbing Centre of Scotland and the National Judo Academy as well as other sports.

The five-storey development, in a converted quarry at Ratho, will have the world’s largest purpose-built climbing arena, mountain biking, aerial adventure course and scuba diving facilities.

It will also feature an adventure sports gym and health club, accommodation, film auditorium, conference facilities and a bar and a restaurant. Around 100 people will be employed at the site.

Today, a spokeswoman for The Adventure Centre blamed bad weather and changes to the design for the long delays to the project.

"Since the centre’s inception three to four years ago we have deliberately extended and expanded the centre, making it a developing project.

"For example, the gym has been incorporated, as well as extensive conferencing facilities, office rental space and a 220-seat film auditorium, which weren’t included in the original plans.

"During bad weather last winter, a storm damaged part of the unfinished roof section. Because the roof is so unusual, the centre had to take time to modify this section in order to continue with construction."

Backers blamed the abnormally windy winter weather for the setback that prevented the roof from being installed as planned by last February. Each roof panel takes five wind-free days to fit and the facility's concrete floor cannot be laid until it is completed.

The large translucent plastic sheets that will make up the roof on the abandoned quarry were sent back to manufacturers to be reinforced after storm in April, when the first 10,000 panel to be installed was torn off.

It is hoped the complex will become a centre for world climbing, hosting a string of international competitions throughout the year.

The centre is being built with the help of a 1.5m grant from the sportscotland lottery fund.

It is being developed by Edinburgh climbers Rab Anderson and Duncan McCallum, and architect David Taylor, who make up the Ratho Quarry Company.

The complex is expected to draw about 260,000 visitors each year.

Councillor Steve Cardownie, the city’s leisure and culture leader, said: "I understand the reasons for the delays are outwith people’s control. I have seen the plans and they are fantastic.

"It is a cracking facility, which will add to the city’s venues in time for the summer."