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March 17, 2010

‘Pop- up’ solutions

The credit crunch laid waste to hundreds of speculative housing developments across the country.  Edinburgh’s Waterfront is one of the largest. Hailed as one of Europe’s most significant regeneration projects, building sites now lie half finished and silent, waiting for a miracle.  But necessity is the mother of invention and one local group in Granton has come up with a novel way forward – a ‘pop-up’ artists  village, a lido and a garden festival

GARETH EDWARDS, Edinburgh Evening News

Granton-sur-Mer – a pop up facelift                

Welcome to sunny Granton by the Sea . . no clouds, no grime, no reason not to take a dip in the outdoor pool

It  isan area better known for its towering old gas works and maritime history rather than sunshine seaside holidays.

But if a new plan gets off the ground, developers are hoping Granton could be rebranded as a continental visitor attraction. They have even called it Granton-sur-Mer – from the French for on-sea – to help it on its way.

The ambitious scheme would see an area close to West Shore Road revamped with facilities including a public outdoor swimming pool, or lido, an arts village created from old sea containers and a walled garden.

The £2 million plan has been put together by the Granton Community Partnership and Art In Architecture, with a planning application already lodged. The lido would be created from four sea containers, sunk into waste ground, lined and filled with solar-heated sea water. Other containers would be used to create changing rooms and a small snack bar.

Plans for the arts village would see up to 100 old containers refurbished to create a series of small studios and craft workshops available for rent, each with a toilet and a small kitchen, and all powered by renewable energy sources such as wind turbines on the site.

Ross McEwen, the project manager with Art in Architecture, said: “What we want to do is take these empty, unused spaces and create something which will help to revitalise the area and provide a real community asset.

“We would be looking to hire local people to help carry out the work and, when it is finished, running them as well.

“The whole idea is that once completed these sites will be run by a local community, with all the income going towards running them.”

The team is also planning to transform the historic walled garden next to the 17th-century mansion Caroline Park House to create a “garden festival”.

The project will be similar to an existing annual garden festival in France, which attracts up to 200,000 visitors each year.

The developers are currently in negotiation with the city council over permission to develop on the sites, and the plans have attracted support in the community.

Frances Durie, chair of the West Pilton/West Granton community council, said: “These sites are just derelict, and this is really interesting plan. I definitely think the local people would be keen to use the lido and the arts village.”

Roy Douglas, chair of the Muirhouse and Salvesen Community Council, added: “There had been plans for social housing there, which were commendable, but after the credit crunch most of the developers have scaled back and so now there are gaps.

“This would be a community-owned project and it is very environmentally friendly, so I think a lot of people will support it.”

If their application is successful and funding secured, the team hopes to start work this year.