Historic Edinburgh gasholder to be turned into tree-lined waterfront amphitheatre

It has been a striking feature of Edinburgh’s landscape for more than 120 years.

Now a historic gasholder is set to be transformed into a tree-lined amphitheatre for cultural events on the city’s waterfront.

A new plaza for events, exhibitions and markets will also be created alongside Granton’s 157ft-tall landmark under plans for the centrepiece attraction of a new “sustainable coastal town”.

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Dedicated spaces permanent and temporary works, exercise, play and relaxation will be created in the “outer ring" of the amphitheatre.

A new Gasholder Park is proposed to be created on Edinburgh's waterfront in the next few years. Image: Tetra Tech

A permanent floodlighting scheme will be installed to help transform the gasholder, which has been lit temporarily in recent years, including for Edinburgh's Hidden Door festival, which was staged on an adjacent site in September last year.

Plans for the new Gasholder Park have been lodged months after the UK Government pledged £16.4 million from its “levelling up” fund to help breathe new life into the redundant site.

Separate plans have already been revealed for a £4.75m restoration of Granton’s historic former railway building, which dates back to 1846, into a new cultural hub featuring studios, workshops, galleries and event spaces.Elsewhere in the area, the National Galleries of Scotland is planning to create a new £75 million archive and collection centre to help safeguard the future of the country’s most important art treasures.A vacant warehouse complex on West Shore Road, which was taken over for last year's Hidden Door festival, is to be refurbished by the arts charity Edinburgh Palette and will become home to new studios, shops and hospitality businesses.

Built for Granton’s gasworks site in 1903, the surviving gasholder was last used in 1987. It was saved from demolition by developers in 2015 after protests were raised by heritage experts.

A new Gasholder Park is proposed to be created on Edinburgh's waterfront in the next few years. Image: Tetra Tech

It is hoped the new Gasholder Park will be ready to open to the public by the spring of 2025.

The masterplan blueprint states: “The interior space has been designed with a large amphitheatre at its core. This flexible, multi-use space will have a central, slightly raised performance space/stage and will be framed by trees.

"These will form a natural backdrop to help to create a degree of separation between the amphitheatre and the walkway and multi-functional spaces.

"The large, central amphitheatre space can accommodate a range of functions, including artistic performance, education or leisure, and can be used by local schools, colleges, amateur dramatic groups or professional organisations.

Edinburgh's new Gasholder Park is hoped to be up and running by 2024. Picture: Tetra Tech

“The large space to the immediate east of the gasholder has also been designed with flexibility in mind, with a multi-use ‘plaza’ area introduced to accommodate markets, seasonal events, performance arts or exhibitions.”

More than 3500 “net zero homes” are proposed to be built under the wider plans for the waterfront coastal town, which will also boast a new primary school and health centre.

The Gasholder Park blueprint adds: “The restoration of the gasholder is a key project within the regeneration of Granton’s waterfront, which provides an unmissable opportunity for Scotland’s capital city to set the standard for sustainable growth, marking a stepped change in how development can influence how we go about our daily lives.

“Over the next 10 to 15 years, this area of the city will be transformed from a post-industrial brownfield site into vibrant new neighbourhoods where people live and travel and grow the economy in an inclusive and considerate way.”

A new Gasholder Park is proposed to be created on Edinburgh's waterfront in the next few years. Image: Tetra Tech

Depute council leader Cammy Day: "It’s great to see this project moving forward to the planning application stage.

"The gasholder sits at the heart of our £1.3bn regeneration project to transform Granton's waterfront using brownfield land into a sustainable new neighbourhood its residents will be proud of.

"It will be one where people live in affordable environmentally friendly homes, have excellent transport and active travel links and access to lots of open and green space, arts, sports and culture.

"In a partnership with Edinburgh College, we’re already lighting up the gasholder as a beacon of light in the area, and standing in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, it’s currently illuminated in the colours of the Ukrainian flag."The wider Granton waterfront regeneration vision, which has been valued at around £1.3 billion, is said to be the biggest project of its kind planned anywhere in Scotland over the next few years.

At the time UK Government funding was approved for the Gasholder Park project in the autumn, council leader Adam McVey said: “We are pleased to see this funding to help support our vision for a new Granton waterfront.

"Our plans will enhance the city’s coastline and deliver sustainable development with culture, green space, and local education and employment at its heart.

A new Gasholder Park is proposed to be created on Edinburgh's waterfront in the next few years. Image: Tetra Tech

"Restoring the gasholder for public use will undoubtedly help attract future investment to regenerate the area.”

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