The £1.3 billion regeneration of Edinburgh, Scotland’s largest brownfields site, Granton Waterfront, creates a new zero-carbon town

On February 19, 2020, a proposal to revitalize and transform Edinburgh, Scotland’s largest brownfield site at Granton Waterfront into a new coastal town was published.

With a rich history and heritage, this former industrial land is set to become one of Scotland’s leading sustainable developments, bringing new homes, business, culture, leisure, learning and employment opportunities.

A new coastal city park linking Granton Harbour to Gypsy Brae will re-connect the city with its waterfront providing the opportunity for residents and visitors to enjoy spectacular views across the Forth while experiencing enhanced leisure and outdoor activity. The plan is also set to deliver on exemplar urban design centred around climate resilience, leading the way in future sustainable development and growing the economy in an inclusive way.

Cllr Adam McVey, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said, “We’ve made a commitment to become a net zero carbon city by 2030 and the regeneration of Granton offers the perfect opportunity to showcase how this can be delivered. We are committed to working with the local community and partners to create vibrant new neighbourhoods where people live and travel and grow the economy in an eco- friendly way.”

The proposals will bring around 3,500 new homes of which at least 35% will be affordable, a school, medical centre, new cycling and walking routes and enhanced sustainable transport connections with the city, making a significant contribution to Edinburgh’s target to become a net zero carbon city by 2030. With an overall gross development value of around £1.3 billion, the Council is committed to investing around £196 million to accelerate the regeneration, attracting significant public and private sector funding to deliver the vision.

The Council’s housing association partners are currently delivering around 700 new homes for sale and rent within the Granton Waterfront area with commitment by key public sector partners National Museums Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland and Edinburgh College to work in collaboration to make this one of Edinburgh’s best places to live, work, learn and visit.

Following extensive consultation with the local community and other key stakeholders, a Development Framework has been published by the Council for Granton Waterfront. This sets out the vision, key principles and design guidance. When agreed, it will be used as a guide for developers when making future planning applications to ensure placemaking stays at the heart of any future proposals.

The Framework supports the Council’s draft City Mobility Plan as it proposes a vast network of new routes which promote walking and cycling over car use.

Car parking has been reduced to a maximum of 25% or less for the area and there is a commitment to improve bus services and other forms of sustainable public transport which will include looking at the business case for a future phase of the tram. Cultural hubs and business start-up space are also part of the framework to create a diverse place for people to live, visit and work in.

Cllr Cammy Day, Depute Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The regeneration of Granton will create hundreds of new jobs linked to growth of new services, business, leisure and creative industries and will strengthen the retail and small businesses that already exist. Our public sector partners Edinburgh College, National Museums Scotland and National Galleries Scotland, who all have land or buildings within Granton Waterfront, are committed to working collaboratively to maximise the impact of combining our resources.

Following committee approval, the Council will work with the Scottish Government and other key partners to develop the funding strategy. A program of temporary uses for the site and early action projects in vacant buildings or land awaiting development will also be taken forward to encourage community empowerment and activity aimed at enhanced social and economic growth and health and well-being.

The Council will shortly be bringing forward plans for an initial phase of development at Western Villages ahead of the wider transformation. Proposals for the development of around 400 new homes for sale and rent in the area will be out for consultation in Spring 2020.

Progress on site:

  • Over 700 affordable homes recently completed or under development within Granton Waterfront by our RSL partners, Polha, Link and Places for People;
  • Council support for Friends of Granton Castle and Walled Garden and Granton Hub in Madelvic House – projects aimed at supporting community enterprise and health and wellbeing;
  • Lease granted to Edinburg Wake Ltd on the quarry pond for leisure use as a wake boarding park – site due to be operational spring/summer 2020;
  • Council appointed contractor to restore Granton Station – work due to commence in Summer 2020 to create a new enterprise hub, with completion due in early 2021;
  • Council contributed £100,000 towards the lighting of the Granton gas holder and a launch event. Work is continuing to seek additional funding to complete the project; and,
  • Promotion of temporary uses for empty buildings as a valuable resource for the local community while the site is being permanently developed – possible uses include:
    • Urban Wind Turbine Pilot
    • Beach Box Granton – shipping containers on the shoreline to provide affordable space for cafes and leisure
    • The Platform – market and events at the station building and surrounding open space
    • Lighting of the gas holder
    • Adventure playground – outdoor learning space for children in collaboration with Edinburgh College
    • Hoarding exhibitions – animate the hoardings while showcasing work of partners and local people or organisations
    • Forthside festival – use the open space at Gypsy Brae for a range of outdoor activities set against the backdrop of coastal views.


Granton Waterfront is identified as a Strategic Development Area in the adopted Edinburgh Local Development Plan. Edinburgh Waterfront—of which Granton is a part—is identified as one of seven strategic sites prioritized for delivery as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

Granton Waterfront consists of around 140 Hectares of former industrial land and is currently characterized by fragmented ownership, piecemeal development and a slow build out rate following the 2007 financial crisis. It currently suffers from high infrastructure costs, poor connectivity and due to intermittent development, a lack of placemaking.

In March 2018, the Council purchased the former gas works from National Grid providing an opportunity to consolidate land holdings (around 120 acres) and take a place base approach to accelerating the delivery of housing led regeneration to enhance physical, economic and social outcomes for the area and surrounding communities.

All images courtesy of Collective Architecture.

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