So what will we do with Granton gas tower now?

ONE of Edinburgh's most striking landmarks has been saved after councillors rejected a bid to demolish the Granton gasholder - but no-one knows what to do with it now.

National Grid Properties, which applied to demolish the tower to make room for expansion of its Forth Quarter development, now faces a 150ft-high headache to put the gasholder to good use.

The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland said similar structures had been transformed around Europe, including one in Vienna which has become flats and a concert venue and one in Germany housing a concert and exhibition space.

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One scheme near St Pancras station in London even proposed turning the gasholder into a giant trampoline, but developers eventually settled for a ground-level pavilion.

Marion Williams, director of city conservation group The Cockburn Association, said: "I think National Grid should look at the feasibility of these schemes. We haven't discussed the future uses in great depth, but we are heartened that the council has upheld the principle of listed buildings for once and voted to retain it."

Historic Scotland also supported the retention of the gasholder. A spokeswoman said: "We would be happy to continue discussions to find a sustainable future for the gasholder."

However, National Grid said schemes like the Vienna flats would be unfeasible in Granton on the grounds that the structure is too big and too unstable.

The company claims the repair bill for the structure would run to 5.2 million.

Sales and lettings manager Jim Moore said: "In our opinion, the gasholder frame has no possible alternative use as it is not feasible to incorporate it as a structural frame for any new building due to its size and the associated issues of liability.

"In effect, we are left with a structure that will require significant financial commitment with no potential for return on this investment."

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He said the council's decision made the company's plans for an urban village "undeliverable for the foreseeable future".

Planning officials recommended the demolition of the gasholder yesterday, but councillors voted ten-two to keep the gasholder on the grounds that its demolition would tear out "the heart of Granton".

Forth councillor Elaine Morris said: "Residents were recently asked to identify landmarks that identified the area, and the next best thing was Granton Square. It would be sad if a big traffic island became the heart of Granton.

"Granton has a slab-like Telford College building and a similarly-square Morrisons supermarket, but the gasholder gives the area its character. It's part of the remit of the planning department to provide places where people feel proud."

However, Frances Durie, chair of West Pilton and West Granton Community Council, said: "What a bunch of idiots. I think it's absolutely ridiculous that they've saved this structure. The argument that the gasholder gives Granton its 'character' is just rubbish. What about the people?"