Green light for new waterside Leith neighbourhood

The Leith waterfront is set to experience a major transformation as Edinburgh City Council has backed a £250 million investment plan for the Ocean Terminal. The proposed scheme will bring about a mixed-use development, replacing a part 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 and planners Turley, prioritises pedestrians, good connectivity, and social and economic benefits. It rejects wholesale demolition of the shopping center in favor of reconfiguration and revitalization of the current site to create a high-amenity town center 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.

The Royal Yacht Britannia, a popular tourist attraction, will remain berthed alongside the centre, while its visitor centre will be retained on site under the new proposals. The masterplan includes a new extension to Ocean Drive, which will help connect the new neighbourhood to the area. To promote active travel, new cycling facilities will be provided, and the development is conveniently located on several bus routes as well as on the Trams to Newhaven route.

The plans have emerged following close consultation with the local community. The new homes are arranged around a communal courtyard to foster a sense of belonging. 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 local jobs, excluding construction opportunities.  

Landscape Architect: LDA Design
Images: Keppie Design

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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/