Edinburgh's grim 'Trainspotting' waterfront to get pounds 450m facelift

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THE MOST rundown district of Edinburgh, the waterfront at Granton, which provided the bleak backdrop for novelist Irvine Welsh's most disturbing works, is to be transformed into the "Forth Riviera".

The blighted backwater is to be re-invented as a Barcelona-style development, creating a new quarter in the Scottish capital in the next decade according to the visionary pounds 450m plan unveiled last week.

It will become the centrepiece of Edinburgh's current renaissance. The Scottish capital is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and the city is on the brink of a new era of importance as political power returns after three centuries in the shape of the new Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.

The Granton regeneration, launched by the Scottish Secretary, Donald Dewar, is a public/private sector partnership and is being called Waterfront Edinburgh. The blueprint offers the opportunity of a local economic boom, creating 6,000 jobs. Key features will be an elevated boardwalk, European- style boulevards, a marina and a new beach. The derelict and heavily polluted industrial sites in the area will be planted with 380,000 trees. Four thousand new homes overlooking the river will be built. The planners intend to avoid the mistakes in London Docklands where an inner-city neighbourhood was re-built as an exclusive enclave for well-off professionals. They have reserved 750 homes for those on lower incomes.

Kevin Murray, director of planning consultants EDAW, said: "It can't just be a yuppie ghetto. Edinburgh can get that right and learn from other people's mistakes."

Waterfront Edinburgh will link the city's shoreline from Portobello to Cramond, and the initiative has been likened to the city's first major urban project two centuries ago when residents were encouraged to move from the Old Town into the now-famed New Town.

Granton has been on its uppers for 40 years and its industrial decline has been reflected by a loss of half of its population. Its only recent claim to fame is that it was the setting for Irvine Welsh's tale of heroin addiction in Edinburgh, Trainspotting, and the Channel 4 black comedy, The Granton Star Cause, an uncompromising story of inner city life.

The three main project partners - Edinburgh City Council, Lothian & Edinburgh Enterprise Ltd and Scottish Homes - say Granton will be re-born as a world- class waterfront.

Keith Geddes, the leader of Edinburgh City Council, said: "This is a vision for a new quarter of the city. It is a golden opportunity. We are creating a brighter lifestyle for our people.

"The emphasis in all this must be quality - quality of employment, quality of living standards, and quality of environment."