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Edinburgh gets gets green light for new Leith neighbourhood

Above: CGI of Ocean Terminal Development at Leith Waterfront (Keppie Design)

The City of Edinburgh Council has backed the £250million Ocean Terminal investment into Leith waterfront. The new scheme will create a mixed-use development on part of the site of the existing Ocean Terminal shopping centre.

Current owners of the 23-year-old retail centre, The Ambassador Group, have put forward ambitious proposals that open up a stretch of Leith waterfront currently inaccessible to the public. The masterplan, developed by Keppie Design, LDA Design with planners Turley, prioritises pedestrians, good connectivity, and social and economic benefits. It rejects wholesale demolition of the Centre in favour of reconfiguration and revitalisation of the current site, to create a high-amenity town centre on the waterfront.

Consent for the first phase of the development, which includes part-demolition of a multi-storey car park and former Debenhams, was granted in 2022. The Council has now unanimously backed phase two which will deliver the full scheme, including 530 new multi-tenure homes. It also creates new retail and commercial spaces, amenities, health and leisure facilities.

Popular tourist attraction, the Royal Yacht Britannia, is berthed alongside the centre with its visitor centre retained on site in the new proposals. The masterplan includes a new extension to Ocean Drive, which will help connect the new neighbourhood to the area. Active travel is supported with new cycling facilities, and the development is conveniently located on a number of bus routes, as well as on the Trams to Newhaven route.

Rory Wilson, a director at LDA Design, explains the landscape thinking: “More than 6,000 square metres of new public realm extends around the development, creating a new circular route that opens up the waterside to the public. Spaces will be social and welcoming. There will be rain gardens, a permanent play space, as well as informal play, and room for cafés and restaurants to spill out.”

The plans have emerged following close consultation with the local community. To foster a sense of belonging, the new homes are arranged around a communal courtyard. Biodiverse roof terraces will offer terrific views across the Forth and back to the city. New plants and trees will be selected for their ability to thrive in a marine setting, contributing to a sense of place.

The scheme is expected to retain and create more than 600 good quality local jobs, excluding construction opportunities.

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