Proposals for £25m Princes Street Gardens revamp

Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens are set to undergo a dramatic facelift come next year.

In a statement published in The Scotsman, the project’s managing director, David Ellis, described his vision as intended to transform the park into “one of the best public spaces in the world”.

The revamp is to compete with New York’s High Line and Singapore’s Gardens. The blueprint aims to honour and maintain the “cultural and historical significance” of Edinburgh, whilst pursuing architectural innovation.

In 2016, at the suggestion of the Ross Development Trust, it was agreed that the 1935 Bandstand was “no longer fit for purpose”, igniting re-landscaping of the site and its surroundings. Since then, four years of planning by architects in New York and Los Angeles has led to a soon- to- be realised manifesto set to radically update the 18th-century gardens.

Proposed plans include an open-air cinema screen, the removal of the Ross Bandstand and its Hobbit House replacement.

Among other updates, the Gardens will also house a grass-covered amphitheatre with a capacity for 6000 individuals, intended to cater for weather-proof events such as indoor concerts and shows, as well as a two-story Visitors Centre.

A permanent Café fixture will also feature, situated next to the Ross Fountain. The Hobbit style structure is designed to “seamlessly blend” into the natural landscape of the park.

Behind the initiative is the expectation and desire to maximise the already impressive greenery. Official plans will “reimage the gardens as a space for all to celebrate and enjoy in new ways”, pledging to remain “sensitive to the past”.

To ensure the revamps’ self-sufficiency, the income generated by the bandstands’ re-imagining is proposed to be able to subsidise community use and maintenance of the public gardens.

Reconfiguration of public footpaths and access points, connecting the Gardens to Princes Street aims to establish the park as “a space…that everyone can enjoy”. A consultation involving the public as well as stakeholders, the council and various other organisations across Edinburgh, will take place before finalizing the project.

Public opinion and feedback were described as “essential” to the success and integrity of the imagined revamp. Official planning applications are due for proposal in February 2020.

The future landscape of Princes Street Gardens looks bright with these exciting new blueprints. With the £25 million proposal, Edinburgh will continue to lead the way into prioritising inclusive community-based ventures whilst seeing to the protection of its historic heritage.

Image: Christoph Strässler via Flickr

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