Revised plans for top of Leith Walk ‘puts Filmhouse move in doubt’

Concern: John McLellan
Concern: John McLellan
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Hopes to relocate the Edinburgh’s much-loved Filmhouse have been “blown out of the water” by the release of revised proposals for Picardy Place, it has been claimed.

A senior opposition councillor said that the Lothian Road venue has considered moving to the site, which is set to be revamped as part of the wider St James Quarter development.

Initial plans for the future of the junction’s layout – published by the council in September – provoked such outrage that the authority made changes and went on to release redrawn proposals in November.

But there is now concern that, under the new designs, there would no longer be room in the junction’s central reservation to house a new home for the arthouse complex.

READ MORE: John McLellan: Disaster movie in the making down Picardy Place way

Conservative councillor and economy spokesman John McLellan said it was clear the Filmhouse had been desperate to move for years but that any hopes for a move to Picardy Place would likely now have been dashed.

He said: “The Filmhouse is a much-loved institution and anything which helps it develop and maintain its place in the cultural life of the city is a good thing.

“But it’s been clear for years that its current home is unsuitable and it needs to move.”

Under the council’s new proposals, Picardy Place would retain a large triangular island and three lanes of traffic on each side. However, the drawings include a larger area of public space outside St Mary’s Cathedral, more footway space and a reduction in potential conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists at key points.

A council spokesman said: “The response to the latest phase of the consultation on Picardy Place has been excellent, with close to 800 residents and representatives from various interest groups taking the time to attend our drop-in sessions or have their say online. This feedback is currently being collated and will be used to inform the final designs to go before a special meeting of the transport committee on January 25.”

In 2014, it was suggested the Filmhouse – home to the Edinburgh International Film Festival – could move to a site in Fountainbridge but this did not end up happening. The venue is currently situated in the Capital’s cultural quarter, which also includes the Royal Lyceum and Traverse theatres and the Usher Hall.

The Filmhouse was unavailable for comment.