National Galleries stump up to help bring Princes Street Gardens up to scratch after delays to £22m revamp

A record 163 stalls were erected in East Princes Street Gardens for an expansion of the city's Christmas market.
A record 163 stalls were erected in East Princes Street Gardens for an expansion of the city's Christmas market.
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The saga over Edinburgh’s controversial Christmas market has taken a new twist after it emerged the National Galleries of Scotland has agreed to help foot the bill for bringing the state of Princes Street Gardens up to scratch.

It will be forking out up to £35,000 to the city council due to the late completion of re-landscaping work across a huge swathe of the gardens, which was carried out as part of a £22 million revamp of the Scottish National Gallery.

Huge infrastructure was installed in East Princes Street Gardens on top of new embankments created by the National Galleries of Scotland last year.

Huge infrastructure was installed in East Princes Street Gardens on top of new embankments created by the National Galleries of Scotland last year.

Council parks experts will finish off incomplete work in the gardens, which began more than a year ago, but was dogged by bad weather. The work will be carried out in tandem with the restoration of areas damaged during the seven-week market, which do not yet have a price tag.

Work on new-look embankments, created in the park last year along with a zig-zagging pathway, was brought to a halt in the autumn months after it should have been finished because the construction of the market was about to begin.

Controversy flared over an expansion of the market when it became clear that far more of the gardens were being used than ever before and that extensive scaffolding was now needed for the new-look park.

The delays over the Scottish National Gallery revamp have been blamed for the failure of winter festival organisers Underbelly to secure planning permission for the new infrastructure in the park, which was needed to protect the new landscaping features.

A report for councillors has revealed the works by the National Galleries were “delayed and incomplete” by the time Underbelly needed to start work in October.

It added: “In recognition of this, a financial contribution towards the completion of the works has been agreed. This work will be delivered alongside the Christmas market reinstatement works.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We reached an agreement in October with the National Galleries to halt the reinstatement of the banks in the gardens until after the winter festivals. Due to the wet summer, previous attempts to seed the banks had been unsuccessful and were not likely to be successful as winter approached.

“They will now be fully turfed and staked with high quality turf as soon as possible in the coming weeks, depending on weather conditions. This will see them looking better than ever, quicker than ever.”

A National Galleries spokeswoman aid: “Work in the gardens was completed over the summer. However, due to the wet weather some areas of grass on the newly-created banks did not take hold properly. We agreed to provide a contribution of up to £35,000 for grass reinstatement once the markets were dismantled.”

Underbelly, which will be meeting the remainder of the costs involved in restoring the park, declined to comment on the council's deal with the National Galleries. The company has an £800,000 contract to stage Edinburgh's Christmas and Hogmanay festivals.