Councillors at the City of Edinburgh Council have today (10 January) given their unanimous approval for a major planning application redeveloping the Ocean Terminal centre at Leith waterfront. 

The Ocean Terminal Masterplan has been in development and consultation with the local community since 2020, and promises to deliver a sustainable new neighbourhood on Leith’s waterfront with the provision of new homes in addition to community amenities, health and leisure facilities for people from all over the Capital and further afield. 

Planning consent for the first phase of the masterplan, for part-demolition of the multi-storey car park and former Debenhams retail unit, was received in autumn 2022. Phase 2, which has received approval from councillors today, will deliver the full Masterplan with the provision of a pedestrian-centred waterfront, new mixed-use community amenities comprising residential, retail and commercial spaces, and high-quality public realm spaces. 

During the hearing of City of Edinburgh Council’s Development Management Sub-Committee, councillors commended the developer’s attention to detail and incorporation of key Council and national priorities including housing provision, green space provision, community amenity and sustainability. 

Chris Richardson, Managing Director of Ambassador Investment Management, the Scottish owner of Ocean Terminal, said:

Having worked closely with residents, businesses, locally-elected representatives and planning officers at the City of Edinburgh Council since 2020, we are delighted to have received approval for our Masterplan today.

“The result of our collaborative engagement with local stakeholders is a development which puts community front and centre. Our plans will meet Edinburgh’s housing needs during a housing emergency, support the vibrancy of Leith waterfront with the creation of new commercial units, serve our community through various amenities including a supermarket and medical centre, and embed sustainability. 

“With planning approvals in place, we look forward to delivering this vision for a new neighbourhood on Leith’s waterfront.

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The plans amount to a £250 million investment in Leith’s waterfront, retaining and creating over 600 local jobs, with further job opportunities during the construction phase, and had won the support of neighbouring businesses and community groups.

Brendan Reilly, President of Leith Chamber of Commerce said:

We at the Leith Chamber of Commerce are delighted to hear that the proposed transformation of Ocean Terminal has gained consent. The redevelopment of this area will improve and add significant enjoyment value to the cosmopolitan and European feel that visitors and residents alike already experience when spending time in this thriving area that is Leith.”

Over 530 new homes with multiple tenure options will be constructed under the Masterplan, with a key focus being residential amenity with secure courtyard gardens and raised terraces. 

Opening up access to the waterfront and The Royal Yacht Britannia via an extension to Ocean Drive, the project will re-connect the new neighbourhood back to Leith. Together with the re-imagined retail centre, the high-quality public realm spaces will create a safe, vibrant neighbourhood and new waterfront destination for the wider community.

Neil Whatley, Associate Director at Keppie Design which developed the architectural design of the proposals, said: 

“Keppie is delighted that the City of Edinburgh Council has approved the proposals for Phase 2 of the re-imaging of the existing retail centre, securing its future retention and operation as a key local amenity and introducing a new, residential-led, mixed-use neighbourhood.

“Ambassador Investment Management’s bold and determined vision will allow the Ocean Terminal project to buck the current trend for whole-scale retail demolition – instead retaining and reimagining the existing asset, creating an outward looking development, integrated into a wider, residential-led urban environment that embodies the rich history, character and vibrant spirit of Leith.”

Colin Smith, Director, Head of Planning Scotland at Turley, acting for Ambassador Investment Management said:

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“This approval marks a significant milestone in Ocean Terminal and Leith’s regeneration, completing the strategic reshaping of Ocean Terminal from an inward-looking, retail and leisure driven commercial centre, to an outward-looking, mixed-use town centre.

“The dynamic neighbourhood will enhance the quality of living, working and leisure space for all, including new public realm next to the waterfront. Key sustainability and climate change objectives from the National Planning Framework 4 – which supports the recycling of assets, such as brownfield land, promotes local living and compact urban growth – are delivered by this development, providing convenient, accessible, mixed-tenure living, well connected to the wider city.”

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