Heritage watchdogs are to scrutinise new plans for the revamp of an open-air concert arena and a rare A-Listed fountain in the heart of one of Scotland's most popular public gardens.

The Ross Bandstand and Ross Fountain in the leafy urban beauty spot of West Princes Street Gardens are to feature in a £25m garden spruce-up under the latest plans to be put forward by an Edinburgh hotel tycoon next week.

HeraldScotland: Hotel tycoon is major benefactor for Ross Bandstand rebuild

Apex Hotels founder Norman Springford is part-bankrolling the joint venture with Edinburgh City Council but also hopes to form a charitable trust to raise the rest.

The bandstand has showcased stars including Simple Minds, the Pet Shop Boys, the Flaming Lips, Blondie and Madness.

Ross Fountain was feared to subsiding and the 19th century ironwork masterpiece was shut down amid the leakage concerns more than five years ago.

It could finally become a visitor spectacle again alongside a new open-air concert and events arena overlooked by Edinburgh Castle.

The plan has been developed by Mr Springford, who offered to be a major benefactor for the project in partnership with the council.

He said he wanted to give something back to the community and saw the bandstand, which he has visited since the 1950s - although "not for rock music" - as a good facility for residents and visitors.

He said: "Whilst 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.

"I'm sure we are all looking forward to be given the chance to deliver a project which the city can have pride in."

Below: Ross Fountain


Marion Williams of the heritage watchdog the Cockburn Association said as the bandstand is on Common Good Land any revamp would require scrutiny by Holyrood.

She said: "It’s not a light undertaking, and it has to be done very carefully and considerately."

A spokesman for Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, which oversees the the city's prized status as a World Heritage Site, said it plans to respond to the proposals but that they are at an early stage.

He said however the trust had been involved in consultations to date.

Council leader Andrew Burns said the theatre, at than 80 years old, is "nearing the end of its useful life".

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

He added: “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, and so there is still much work to be done.”

The venue has a capacity of 2,000 and the current structure dates to 1935 but the original facility was a bandstand, built in 1877, gifted to the city by distiller William Henry Ross.

The Ross Fountain