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Old March 22nd, 2015, 11:10 AM   #1
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The Quaich Project (Ross Pavilion & Gardens) | New Town | £25m | Proposed

Call for revamp of ‘bombed out’ Hogmanay stage

The Scotsman - 21st March, 2015

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One of Scotland’s best-known outdoor concert arenas has been compared to a “bombed-out shelter” by a leading pop and rock promoter, as he called for action to secure its future.

Mark Mackie, who has been behind some of the country’s biggest concerts in the past 20 years, has urged Edinburgh City Council to take action to restore the fortunes of the Ross Theatre in Princes Street Gardens.

He said it had “missed the ball” by failing to take action over the venue, the centrepiece for events at the end of the Edinburgh International Festival and during the capital’s Hogmanay celebrations.

Mackie, managing director of Regular Music, suggested the council should hand over responsibility for the project to an outside trust to raise funds if it could not afford to carry out a revamp itself, adding that the current condition of the venue, which was built in 1935, was “a real shame” for the city.

His company was part of a taskforce of architects, engineers and promoters asked to help draw up plans for a new-look bandstand after the cancellation of Hogmanay festivities in 2004 when part of a temporary arena in the gardens was wrecked by high winds.

Although designs for a replacement bandstand were revealed in 2006, the project was shelved by the council due to a lack of funding and commitments to back other projects, such as new spectator stands at Edinburgh Castle esplanade for the Tattoo and overhauls of the Assembly Rooms and the Usher Hall.

Mackie said: “The Ross Theatre has definitely seen better days. You only have to go down and have a walk around it.

“It’s in a fantastic location, in the shadow of the castle, right in the centre of Edinburgh, just off one of the most famous streets in the world. It now looks like a bombed-out shelter from an Eastern European country.”

He acknowledges that with funding cutbacks, money might be harder to come by, but pointed out that in Glasgow, the city’s Building Preservation Trust raised more than £2 million for the Kelvingrove Bandstand project.

A council spokeswoman said the organisation was in the early stages of planning an *upgrade.

She added: “We recognise that the Ross Theatre is an asset to the city. Positioned in an enviable location in the heart of Princes Street Gardens against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, it is a fantastic historic venue but it does require updating.

“This was identified in a city cultural venues study of 2009.”
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Old March 26th, 2015, 10:59 AM   #2
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Plans revealed for iconic Edinburgh concert arena

The Scotsman - 26th March, 2015

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An iconic new concert and events arena would be built in Princes Street Gardens under plans put forward to the city council by a leading businessman.

Norman Springford, founder of the Apex Hotels group and a former owner of the Edinburgh Playhouse, is offering to plough several million pounds of his own money into a replacement for the crumbling Ross Theatre.

The award-winning developer said he would be happy to pay for an international design competition to come up with designs for a building he hopes will become as iconic a symbol as the Sydney Opera House or Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum.

The 70-year-old has offered to help put together a task force of industry experts to set up a charitable trust to pursue a new building, which would be used throughout the year.

Mr Springford, who met senior officials earlier this month, has produced a glossy brochure outlining his proposals. His vision, sent to council chief executive Sue Bruce, envisages a new arena with an overall capacity of 5000 but which could also be adapted to host smaller events.

Mr Springford admits the project could cost as much as £30 million, but has suggested financial backing could come from some of Edinburgh’s biggest corporate firms, philanthropic trusts and public funders including the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Mr Springford said: “I was born and bred in Edinburgh. I’ve known the Ross Bandstand all of my life. I’ve wanted to see it developed for around the last 20 years. Every time its condition is raised my interest has been piqued. It’s only now that I believe there is something deliverable and there seems to be a bit of enthusiasm about it within the council.

“This proposal is about improving the visitor experience of Edinburgh, as well as having a decent venue that puts the city back on the cultural map. It’s not about a white elephant that’s used once or twice a year.”

Although the new facility is expected to help bring events to Edinburgh for the first time, it would need the council to agree in principle for much greater use of the Gardens for commercial purposes than it allows at present.

His eight-page blueprint states: “One of the key objectives is to ensure that the replacement facility is extensively used, so it becomes an attraction in its own right. Smaller and local events would certainly be required to meet that objective, ideally operating every day of the year.

“The facility will become the catalyst that showcases a number of major events, including the Edinburgh International Festival fireworks, Hogmanay and the Fringe. Existing uses are easily identified, but it also needs to act as the draw to allow the city to win bids for other major sporting and cultural events.”

The local authority was forced to shelve much-publicised plans for a replacement bandstand six years ago due to funding problems, despite drawing up a detailed design. And the council pledged action in the wake of the cancellation of the Hogmanay celebrations in 2013-14, after part of a temporary arena was ripped off by high winds.

The condition of the existing venue, which dates back to 1935, is said to have declined badly over the last decade.

Mr Springford, whose family business was recently valued at £152 million in the Sunday Times Rich List, has gone public with his own bid to kickstart action after reading that one of Scotland’s leading concert promoters was urging action over the bandstand, which he compared to “a bombed-out shelter.”

Mark Mackie, managing director of Regular Music, suggested the council should hand over responsibility for the project to an outside trust if it could not afford to carry out a revamp itself.

That is the model which has been proposed to the council in the dossier, which sets out a possible timetable which could see the new arena up and

running by the end of 2017. However, there are a number of major obstacles, not least legislation preventing any new buildings being created in the Gardens.

The National Galleries is having to seek special permission from the Scottish Parliament for a second time to carry out a redevelopment of its site on the The Mound, as it will encroach on to the east gardens.

A bold new design for a concert arena is almost certain to come under intense scrutiny from heritage bodies, who campaigned against previous plans for an underground shopping centre in the Gardens.

The blueprint also states: “An iconic building needs to be delivered to make a statement that Edinburgh not only has a historic and traditional image, but is also a modern and vibrant city. Clearly the protection of the Gardens is a key element in any proposals. Visitors to Scotland do not come for the weather and the design of the building should be such that it protects the main auditorium from inclement weather.

“The procurement of the design becomes an important issue. An international competition could fulfil the architectural role, or a beauty parade of leading architects may be an acceptable solution to identify a suitable firm.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We are open and keen to work with all partners for the benefit of the city and discussions like this are to be warmly welcomed. Norman Springford has led an esteemed career developing venues in Edinburgh and the tourism industry. We look forward to discussing these suggestions with him in more depth to consider the feasibility of his ideas.”
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Old March 31st, 2015, 02:24 PM   #3
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Ross Bandstand tycoon hits back at watchdog

Edinburgh Evening News - 31st March, 2015

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The tycoon behind multi-million-pound plans for a new concert venue in Princes Street Gardens has shrugged off a withering attack from the Capital’s conservation watchdog, which has branded the scheme “laughable”.

Norman Springford, founder of Apex Hotels and a former owner of the Edinburgh Playhouse, who is offering to plough several million pounds into a replacement for the crumbling Ross Theatre, said it was “too early” to attack the project.

His comments came after Marion Williams, director of The Cockburn Association, said she “laughed” when she saw his proposals and suggested they would not have an easy ride through parliament.

We revealed last week how Mr Springford had put forward plans for the revamp, which he admitted could cost as much as £30m.

And he said he would be happy to pay for an international competition to come up with designs for a building he hopes will become as iconic as the Sydney Opera House or Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum.

Responding to Ms Williams’ criticisms, he told the News: “I think we’re at the very early stages of the whole process and we accept that there are likely to be parties for it and parties against it.

“And it’s a case that everyone in the city decides what’s best for the city. I’m not saying that [Marion Williams] is right or wrong. It’s something that has to be decided.

“It’s very early stages in the whole process – we have to get the council on board first.”

Mr Springford’s vision – sent to council chief executive Sue Bruce – envisages a new arena with an overall capacity of 5000.

Ms Williams, who has indicated she might be willing to start a crowdfunding campaign to save the dilapidated Ross Fountain, was reported to have said: “I laughed when I [saw] the proposals.

“In general principle, any building in the gardens is prohibited by an act of parliament to do anything as it is Common Good Land.

“The National Galleries is looking to extend on a small piece of land and they’ve had to go through parliament. The idea of a building like the Sydney Opera House in Princes Street Gardens would have to go through parliament.

“It’s not a light undertaking – it has to be done very carefully and considerately.”

Mr Springford said it was not appropriate to attack or praise a scheme when there was nothing detailed on the table.

“What we’re looking at is whether it’s feasible, whether there’s funding available,” he said. “At this point we haven’t got any sense of design.

“In general and conceptual terms, is it going to be higher than the pavement level on Princes Street? No, because there’s a by-law that suggests it can’t be. The massing of the building is down to architects and designers – it’s not down to me.”
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Old April 6th, 2016, 11:36 AM   #4
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Edinburgh’s Princes St Gardens to get new concert venue

Edinburgh Evening News - 6th April, 2016

Quote:
Edinburgh is finally set to get a new concert arena after city leaders agreed to join forces with a property tycoon to replacing its crumbling venue in Princes Street Gardens.

City leaders are expected to seek permission from the Scottish Parliament to create a replacement for the Ross Bandstand after an approach from Apex Hotels founder Norman Springford to help bankroll the project.

He has since formed his own steering group to drive forward the project, after winning approval in principle from the local authority for his vision of an “iconic” new open-air venue for the city.

The former owner of the Edinburgh Playhouse envisages the new arena, which could cost up to £25 milion, being flexible enough to host events suitable for just a few hundred people to major concerts with a capacity of at least 5000.

The city council, which is responsible for the historic site below Edinburgh Castle, has admitted that the existing arena - which dates back to 1877 and was last overhauled in 1935 - is “no longer fit for purpose.”

Outline plans for a replacement for the bandstand and an overhaul of West Princes Street Gardens to accommodate a proposed outdoor concert arena have been drawn up by the two parties in recent months after Mr Springford attempted to break a long-standing impasse over the ageing bandstand.

The council is now considering a lease agreement for part of the gardens, which date back to the 1820s, which would allow Mr Springford’s team to start drawing up of detailed designs for the new venue.

A new charitable trust would be set up to raise the funding and then deliver the project, which is expected to take several years to get off the ground and clear planning hurdles.

Major events would be held year-round in the proposed new arena, which already hosts concerts during the Edinburgh International Festival and the city’s Hogmanay celebrations, as facilities would be created to reduce the costs involved in staging concerts.

Spin-off benefits are expected to include improvements to the landscaping of Princes Street Gardens, creating better access for visitors and event organisers, and a restoration of the historic Ross Fountain, which dates back to 1872, and has also fallen into disrepair in recent years.

The city council previously formed a taskforce more than a decade ago to look into a possible replacement for the bandstand after the cancellation of the Hogmanay concert at the eleventh hour when the temporary arena was badly damaged by bad weather.

However the idea was shelved due to concerns over how a new bandstand could be funded and potential problems over legal restrictions over building new structures in Princes Street Gardens.

As well as being designated as “common good land”, a bylaw introduced in 1991 by the then Edinburgh District Council to restrict future development in the city’s parks allows for “bandstands” to be created in Princes Street Gardens, but does not specifically mention concert arenas or any other new facilities.

A report for councillors, due to be discussed next week, reveals that a private bill could take around 18 months to be approved at Holyrod and is not guaranteed to succeed.

However the city council today said it had a “shared ambition” with Mr Springford to turn his vision into reality.

City council leader Andrew Burns said: “Scores of famous acts have graced the Ross Bandstand stage and while it remains a key venue for the city’s famous festival fireworks and Hogmanay concert it is more than 80 years old and is nearing the end of its useful life.

“It has been a long held ambition of the council to create a new facility as part of major renewal of the Gardens but is not, in the current financial climate, a project we could undertake alone.

“We are extremely grateful to Mr Springford for his personal commitment to the project.

“Princes Street Gardens are a major source of residents’ pride in the city and it is important that we get any changes to the park right. “There are a lot of considerations, from the fact the area is common good land to the implications of building in public parks, so there is still much work to be done.”

Paul Lawrence, the council’s director of place, said: “The Ross Bandstand has been a key asset in West Princes Street Gardens – one of the most visited public parks in Scotland, connecting the Old and New Town halves of a world heritage site.

“However, the bandstand’s condition has deteriorated over time and is no longer fit for purpose, although some interim maintenance works for health and safety purposes have recently been undertaken.

“With input from Mr Springford and an independent steering group he has formed, council officers are developing an outline proposal for improvements to the landscaping of and access to the gardens, the replacement of the Ross Bandstand, and options for the Ross Fountain restoration.

“This work is taking place on the basis that any eventual project would be externally funded.

“The bandstand is essential to the delivery of the annual festival fireworks concerts and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. It would be a condition of any future development that those uses be accommodated in the new facilities.

“The new bandstand would be expected to provide superior contemporary facilities that would accommodate a wide range of events.”

Mr Springford said: “It would clearly be inappropriate to think about having any kind of large structure in the gardens. It will be an open-air venue again. It is also clear that if you are going to improve the bandstand then you have effectively got to improve the environment around it.

“While it has been a personal ambition to see redevelopment, the opportunity for this to become a reality arises from a real spirit of public/private co-operation.

“We are not looking for any money from the council. But if a charitable trust is to raise in the region of £25 million it will have to have a lease of the asset. But there is no intention to make any profit from this.”


Read more: http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.co...#ixzz452O9t8aD
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Old April 6th, 2016, 10:47 PM   #5
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Hmmm... I'm 50% happy and 50% worried.
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Old April 7th, 2016, 01:18 AM   #6
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Hmmm... I'm 50% happy and 50% worried.
If they get it right, that could be one of the coolest venues in the world. So much potential to add something truly missing from Edinburgh!
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Old April 7th, 2016, 08:20 AM   #7
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Hmmm... I'm 50% happy and 50% worried.
Exactly my thoughts.

And however sceptical I am about it actually happening, the Ross Fountain restoration has me like
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Old April 7th, 2016, 09:25 AM   #8
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Interesting in the comments:

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06/04/2016 11:42 AM CUT
Rate: (2 | 2)
marion57The Cockburn Association is working with Norman and enthusiastic about the plans
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Old April 7th, 2016, 06:06 PM   #9
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Interesting in the comments:
Glad to hear the Cockburn Association expressing support at this stage. Hopefully it will last. They're certainly sounding more constructive about it than they were this time last year.
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Old April 8th, 2016, 04:28 PM   #10
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The Ross Bandstand has been criminally underused and under-maintained over the years. If these guys get it right, Edinburgh could have a really unique World class facility.
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Old April 14th, 2016, 07:30 PM   #11
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Ross Bandstand replacement report approved by councillors - West Princes Street Gardens and the Ross Bandstand: an opportunity for renewal (pdf).
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Old May 1st, 2016, 01:24 AM   #12
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i would like to watch a live musical concert!
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Old June 24th, 2016, 03:35 PM   #13
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Edinburgh Council sets the stage for Ross Bandstand rebuild

Edinburgh Spotlight - 24th June 2016

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The City of Edinburgh Council has committed to progressing proposals to rebuild Edinburgh’s famous Ross Bandstand.

It is hoped the historic venue, situated in the heart of West Princes Street Gardens, could undergo redevelopment with the support of benefactor Norman Springford under a shared multi-million pound vision which would include new landscaping, visitor facilities and a refurbished Ross Fountain.

At a meeting of the Full Council next week (Thursday 30 June), members will discuss a report outlining the planned appointment of a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) to front the proposed redevelopment.

Under current plans, this charitable trust will launch a design competition for the site which, if approved by the Council and permitted by the Scottish Parliament, could see work underway by 2020.

In April, it was announced the Council held ambitions to renew the Gardens for the year-round benefit of communities and visitors through fundraising and in consultation with heritage bodies, festival producers and residents.

Council Leader Andrew Burns, Convener of the Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee, said: “While the Ross Bandstand remains a key venue for the city’s famous Festival Fireworks and Hogmanay Concert in the Gardens, it is more than 80 years old and is nearing the end of its useful life.

“By working in partnership with a SCIO, we hope to be able to work towards the creation of a new facility as part of major renewal of the Gardens. The area is Common Good land and we are well aware of the implications of building in public parks, so while there is still much work to be done, we are making a commitment to supporting and progressing plans.”

Richard Lewis, the city’s Culture Convener, added: “In the shadow of Edinburgh Castle in the heart of West Princes Street Gardens, the Ross Bandstand boasts what must be one of the most recognisable backdrops on earth.

“We are making a considerable step by progressing redevelopment ideas for the site and I hope that by working with Mr Springford, we will be able to support an exciting design competition with the SCIO to see this incredible asset brought back into suitable use.”

City hotelier and benefactor for the project Norman Springford said: “A charitable trust has been set up and we are all looking forward to moving this project forward which will hopefully deliver immediate improvements in West Princes Street Gardens.”
Full report - West Princes Street Gardens and the Ross Bandstand Update (pdf)
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Old July 22nd, 2016, 06:03 PM   #14
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[B][SIZE="4"]Edinburgh Council sets the stage for Ross Bandstand rebuild
Picking up belatedly on this. Reminded me of some grandoise plans a long time back that some may recall to build a purpose built tattoo and events venue on the other side of the tracks or even over them.

Amidst the encouraging support by CEC and Cockburn Assoc (belatedly) and wishlist talk elsewhere of a market space on the station car park site...Waverley Gardens (TM kenspeckle) and Kings Stables NCP sites, I had a look on google and it's quite a big potential footprint around the Ross. Modern tech means there are potentially temp/retractable seating and roofing options that could open up the possibility of creating quite a sizeable flat multi-purpose events space, not just a bigger version of the current (only so many outdoor concerts you can do).

Markets, sports events, art events etc as well as a performance venue. With core facilities and even a posh cafe or 2 supporting it. That may be the plan - I hope so as that would be a really useful asset for the city.
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Old July 23rd, 2016, 02:59 PM   #15
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Picking up belatedly on this. Reminded me of some grandoise plans a long time back that some may recall to build a purpose built tattoo and events venue on the other side of the tracks or even over them.

Amidst the encouraging support by CEC and Cockburn Assoc (belatedly) and wishlist talk elsewhere of a market space on the station car park site...Waverley Gardens (TM kenspeckle) and Kings Stables NCP sites, I had a look on google and it's quite a big potential footprint around the Ross. Modern tech means there are potentially temp/retractable seating and roofing options that could open up the possibility of creating quite a sizeable flat multi-purpose events space, not just a bigger version of the current (only so many outdoor concerts you can do).

Markets, sports events, art events etc as well as a performance venue. With core facilities and even a posh cafe or 2 supporting it. That may be the plan - I hope so as that would be a really useful asset for the city.
I'm hoping for some sort of innovative retractable roofing system too, though its hard to discern exactly what they are envisioning. An "all-weather arena" was mentioned more than once which would imply covered seating. The most recent council report indicated that both the pedestrian bridges over the rail line would be replaced as part of the scheme as well as unspecified "visitor facilities" in addition to the new venue. That same report also mentioned a "wide range of events" beyond concerts so I think they are looking at something very multi-use

The setting and nature of the project should mean the design competition attracts a lot of interest from architects worldwide. I just hope they make all the entries public - it's been a while since Edinburgh's seen a big open design competition.
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Old July 23rd, 2016, 11:27 PM   #16
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I'm hoping for some sort of innovative retractable roofing system too, though its hard to discern exactly what they are envisioning. An "all-weather arena" was mentioned more than once which would imply covered seating. The most recent council report indicated that both the pedestrian bridges over the rail line would be replaced as part of the scheme as well as unspecified "visitor facilities" in addition to the new venue. That same report also mentioned a "wide range of events" beyond concerts so I think they are looking at something very multi-use

The setting and nature of the project should mean the design competition attracts a lot of interest from architects worldwide. I just hope they make all the entries public - it's been a while since Edinburgh's seen a big open design competition.
That does sound like something bolder, broader and quite interesting. I'm not at all averse to a bigger structure if it has sculptural/aesthetic qualities. And you're right. It's gone a bit design competition lite for a while.
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Old July 24th, 2016, 01:28 PM   #17
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And while we're at it. How about a really classy cafe in the gardeners house? I bet it would do well.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@55.95...7i13312!8i6656
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Old December 2nd, 2016, 11:04 AM   #18
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Contract notice confirming the council have awarded the contract to redevelop the Ross Bandstand and surrounding areas of Princes Street Gardens to Norman Springford's charitable trust, The Ross Development Trust. Value of the project is estimated at £25m.

Hopefully this means it won't be too long till a design competition is launched.
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Old December 2nd, 2016, 12:51 PM   #19
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^
Didn't they just finish smartening that bandstand up?!
If you ask me the fountain in the park should get some funding...
We are a grand European capital city, and we don't even have one fountain!
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Old January 7th, 2017, 07:36 PM   #20
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And while we're at it. How about a really classy cafe in the gardeners house? I bet it would do well.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@55.95...7i13312!8i6656
Still might happen but in the meantime an application has been submitted to revamp the building's offices and meeting rooms. The project is for The Ross Trust, which I'm assuming is the charitable trust recently established to carry out the Ross Bandstand redevelopment project.

16/06263/LBC | Relocate existing boiler flue terminal on roof of North Elevation; new kitchen extract. Alterations to internal walls to expose fireplaces, internal entrance door glazing to be replaced + new flooring internally. | West Gardens Cottage 83A Princes Street Edinburgh EH2 2HG
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