Concern about the loss of another live music venue in Edinburgh has been eased by plans for a new development in Leith.
A music venue features as part of the rebuilding of Stead’s Place which threatened the future of one popular location.
Following extensive consultation with the local community, plans by Drum Property Group now include a row of independent retail, restaurant and entertainment units facing directly on to Leith Walk.
Feedback from a recent consultation exercise uncovered a demand from many that the new development should try to maintain the area’s distinctive cultural feel and identity as well as retaining an independent music venue for Leith.
The new row of units will be enclosed in a red sandstone façade which reflects the design and shape of the existing Leith Walk frontage and it is hoped that many of the small independent traders currently based there will relocate to the new development on completion.
The existing music venue – Leith Depot – which was converted from the notorious Meridien Bar, will close at the end of its lease in 2019 and the operators have decided they do not want to return. It hosts regular music nights and was a venue for the Edinburgh Festival, helping to spread the event beyond the city centre.
Drum’s new venue will be purpose-built to encourage live performances as well as providing display space for a range of other creative arts and exhibitions.
Fife Hyland, communications director at Drum, said: “We have listened to the comments of those members of the community who have participated in our consultation events and we understand the importance of maintaining a distinctive and independent feel for this important stretch of Leith Walk.
“We will continue to evolve our proposals for a bold, modern development for a confident and diverse Leith.
“The existing buildings at Stead’s Place are no longer an economically viable investment for us and we propose to invest £50 million in a new mixed-use development when all of the existing tenants move out and the site is completely vacant in 2019.
“We are now having positive discussions with many of the current traders with a view to encouraging them to return to the new development on completion – offering favourable rents, in line with current levels, and significantly lower than market value.”
He added: “We want this development to be a blueprint for introducing modern, contemporary design on to the high street without sacrificing the individuality and vibrancy that makes Leith unique.
“We feel our revised proposals, incorporating sympathetic design with an eclectic mix of tenants and a stand-out live music venue, will continue the rich tradition of diversity, independence and interest which makes Leith Walk such an exciting destination in which to live, work and visit.”
Drum is submitting a detailed planning application to Edinburgh Council shortly for the redevelopment of the site which, as well as the Leith Walk shop frontage, includes a medium-sized industrial estate directly to the rear.
Development proposals include replacement of the existing shop units, affordable housing operated by Places for People, and post-graduate student residences operated by the University of Edinburgh.
The development will include a hotel with a bar restaurant. Other details include landscaping of the area and opening up a safe and accessible pedestrianised route linking Leith Walk and Pilrig Park.