Granton Harbour, Forth Ports Development, Firth of Forth Building Architect, Project Design Info

Granton Harbour Development : Architecture

Forth Ports PLC : Granton Harbour

Granton Harbour Development

Terry Smith’s lengthy submission for The Edinburgh Echo regarding Forth Ports plans for Granton Harbour.

14 Sep 1999; issued to this site by Anthony Macnaghten


Granton as a Leisure Harbour

Access is currently available for local residents and visitors to only part of the Middle Pier, and the Eastern Breakwater. The redevelopment will greatly enhance access, with safe well-lit routes the complete length of the Middle Pier, both East and West Breakwaters, the quaysides to the East and West Harbour and the foreshore loch.

The application has been submitted in “outline” to allow consultation and suggestions to be considered in the detailed evolution of the redevelopment. We have proposed that the Middle Pier should be a major public space, with a village square, an hotel and restaurants, and perhaps some shops.

We see the pier being used for events such as jazz festivals, antique fairs, book fairs, farmers markets and performances during the Edinburgh Festival. We have already supported the production of three films on the Pier, and would like to see this and other cultural events grow over the years. Yachting events have the potential to be major attractions for local people, if suitable support facilities such as seating and toilets are provided.

Yacht races including the East Coast Sailing Week should be a major celebration each year, in addition to the ongoing interest of watching yacht repair and launches. The old transit shed could be converted to contain a yacht chandlery/ café/ restaurant/ shops/ theatre/ studios – would local residents like to see these uses at the harbour?

“We believe that we should celebrate the difference of the harbour and this has been done very successfully around the world. We believe there should be quiet areas for walking and fishing and enjoying the bird life and sea life. We believe people should live at the harbour to provide safety and security, and we believe that the harbour can support leisure events that will provide a boost and a pride to the local area”.


The redevelopment has been carefully planned to provide a number of employment opportunities. We have already identified an hotel company, who are interested in constructing a 120-bed hotel at the harbour. This may sound surprising, but consider Leith Western Harbour, where there are now three hotels open and a further two at the planning stages. Who would have believed five years ago that Leith would have five new hotels!

We have also identified a restaurant company interested in converting the old Gunpowder Store into a restaurant, and a boat building company into providing chandlery/ yacht sales/ yacht building and repair facilities.

We believe that there could be a number of initiatives for local companies to start boat trips, boat hire e.g. rowing boats or canoes on the loch, sail training etc.

Forth Ports are members of the Business Support Group, based at the NEAR/Pilton Partnership offices at West Pilton Crescent, with a particular interest in ensuring that future school leavers are informed of the emerging employment opportunities in the leisure and related industries, and that local unemployed people have access to any job opportunities.

Forth Ports have, in partnership with LEEL and the Leith Job Centre Employment Service, designed a “Waterfront Recruitment Centre” that will open at Ocean Terminal later in the year. This will provide direct access for local people to the contractors on site, to the retailers who will be opening stores and leisure units in Ocean Terminal, and to future employers in the area. It is intended that the Waterfront Recruitment Centre will be moved or expanded to cover Granton when development commences.

Granton Harbour Development
image courtesy of the Hackland + Dore Architects


A transportation study has been completed in conjunction with the City of Edinburgh Council and LEEL to encompass all the proposed developments in the north of the city. A further phase has now been commissioned to consider in detail, the public transport improvements that will be required on a phased basis over the years, as development progresses.

Forth Ports have designated all the port development areas at Leith, Newhaven and Granton as 20-mph zones, to ensure safety for pedestrians and cyclists, and to encourage residents and visitors to use public transport.

The Port of Leith is currently served by numerous bus services, but suffers from infrequent services during the evening and at weekends. Forth Ports have negotiated with LRT and First Bus to provide five bus services to Ocean Terminal and to extend the services in to the evenings and at weekends. We believe that if people know that they can rely on good quality buses and they are there when they want to use them, then they will leave their cars and use public transport.

“We are approaching the redevelopment of Granton in a similar way and believe that the provision of 20-mph speed limits, construction of walkways and cycleways and the enhancement of public transport is the way ahead”.


Edinburgh, unlike many other cities, is expanding, and the Council document “Towards Sustainable Growth – a Review of the Pressures for Growth and Implications for Sustainable Development in the City of Edinburgh April 1999”, highlights the requirement for up to 3,500 new houses per annum in Edinburgh in sustainable development.

The extensive research carried out in the preparation of this document highlights the sustainability of the Waterfront development. The existing planning consent for construction of housing on infilled land at Granton East Harbour, is included in the housing land supply allocated for Edinburgh. The total number of houses proposed in our current application equates to less than 25% of one years supply required by Edinburgh.

Council records show that in 1971, around 30,000 people lived in the Granton area. In 1991, numbers had reduced to around 18,000. If the complete development proposed by the Council/ LEEL/ Scottish Homes progresses in the surrounding area, together with the harbour proposals, the population will be restored to a projected 22,000 – 26,000, which is still below the 1971 levels.

“Forth Ports believe that housing at the harbour is essential to provide safety and security, and will be designed to include a full range of house sizes and tenure, but with high quality architecture throughout. The housing is also a key component in funding infrastructure, dredging, quay edges, repairs to listed buildings and engineering structures, walkways, cycleways and public transport provision. We believe that the housing should not be semi-detached with gardens, but of a similar urban scale to developments in the Port of Leith”.


Planning approval was granted by the Council in 1992 to develop the West Harbour for industrial uses and for infill of 19 acres in East Harbour for a marina village development of 275 flats and houses, together with a large feature building on the quayside for mixed hotel/ leisure/ office/ residential/ chandlery uses. The West Harbour approval included 23 acres of existing infilled land and further infill to provide a suitably shaped site.

The consent included agreement from the Nature Conservancy Council (now replaced by Scottish Natural Heritage) to infilling over the existing foreshore that was part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Forth Ports applied to the Council for an extension of the time period, to advance the detailed design work under an Article 5 application. This was accepted and a scope of bird counts was agreed with S.N.H. and the Council over a two-year period, which are now almost complete.

We consider that the original consent is still in place, but have submitted the current application “in parallel”, as we believe it has numerous environmental benefits. The loch leaves the S.S.S.I. undisturbed and can either be developed as a place for people, bird life, or both. It could be used for boating, or as an area for bird roosting and breeding. The fossil beds will also be available for study at various stages of the tide, as at present.

The area proposed for infill has been reduced, and the section of siltation to the outer edge in East Harbour can be left as intertidal feeding grounds, as at present. Pontoons can be left in place, or repositioned for use by seals and roosting birds.
“We believe that we have produced a carefully considered plan that is sensitive to both the natural and the built environment, and hope that this outline of our plans will assist in a better understanding of what is proposed for the Harbour Village”.”


Granton Harbour SSSI

Mail – Sent: 6 Jul 2001 Subject: Granton Harbour and the Firth of Forth SSSI

Dear Mr Macnaghten

I apologise for not replying to your email query sooner. Until recently a small section of rock at Granton Harbour was notified as a SSSI for geological reasons, it was part of the Wardie Shore SSSI. In August 2000 SNH notified owners and occupiers of the Firth of Forth SSSI.

This was a new site which amalgamated 17 existing coastal SSSIs along with some new sections of intertidal mudflats. This new larger SSSI was notified in order to support the proposed designation of most of the intertidal area of the Forth as a Special Protection Area under the EC’s Wild Birds Directive of 1979.

This European site was proposed in order to protect the large numbers of wintering waterfowl which use the Forth each winter. One of the new areas to be notified was the mudflat at east Granton Harbour.

SSSI legislation only extends down to the low water mark so it is only the intertidal part of the harbour which is included (and any part of the original geological interest which shows above the high tide). I can provide the SSSI and SPA citations and also maps to show the boundary if that would of use to you. Please contact me if you would like these or any other information.

Yours sincerely
Lachlan Lamont, Natura Project Officer, Forth & Borders

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