Application for Planning Permission Ocean Terminal

Posted on: April 20, 2022

Overall, we support this application but would advocate for improvements such as improving the
harbour edge to create a more amenable public space as well as offer some thoughts on wider
sustainability and climate impact issues.

Address: Ocean Terminal 98 Ocean Drive Edinburgh

Proposal: Part demolition of existing shopping centre, remodelling
and re-facing of facade to provide reconfigured commercial units
(Class 1/2/3) at ground floor level, reconfigured visitor attraction
space (Class 10) and potential co-working office space (Class 4),
commercial units (Class 1/2/3) and/or leisure uses (Class 11) on
upper floors, relocation of access bridge to Royal Yacht Britannia,
temporary landscaping on the cleared site, and associated works.

Reference No: 22/01372/FUL

Closing date for comments: Thu 21 Apr 2022

Determination date: Fri 20 May 2022

Cockburn Response


Overall, we support this application but would advocate for improvements such as improving the
harbour edge to create a more amenable public space as well as offer some thoughts on wider
sustainability and climate impact issues.

Although only a few decades old, Ocean Terminal has not lived up to its potential due to several
factors. We appreciate that bricks and mortar retailing is changing rapidly with traditional
department stores seeing the most significant change. The loss of Debenham’s therefore creates a
major impact on the viability of OT. We agree that a substantial and radical restructuring is
required. We have no objection therefore to the partial demolition in development terms but do
raise serious concerns regarding the huge carbon impact that this will have as a result. We advocate
that the embodied carbon loss of the demolished buildings be calculated and features on the “loss”
side of the carbon management equation for the whole site, including the future redevelopment
area to the east of the site. In this way, whole-life carbon counting can form part of the
sustainability assessment for the scheme.

In addition to the retail issues, the original concept of OT also creates problems. Fundamentally, it
turns its back on one of the main assets – the harbour. The terminus for cruise liners was planned to
integrate into the centre – it was not built. The Royal Yacht Britannica (RYB), a very clear asset for
the area, was planned in such a way as to limit flexibility. These are all challenges that any
restructuring should seek to address. Whilst we appreciate that the RYB’s curatorial approach is, in
part, designed into the OT, consideration should be given to its relocation elsewhere in Leith Docks
(possibly nearer to the former Forth Port Authority’s HQ).

The partial demolition of OT with the removal of the north car park and Debenham’s store is not
controversial in itself. We are glad that arrangements for the retention of VUE cinema are in place
as this provides a useful cultural facility for the area.

A key objective should be the creation of much needed civic space in the area and with a principal
aim being the integration of the harbour edge with the wider environment. An animated area to the
north-east end of the site will not address the fact that the current harbour edge acts as a service
lane for the retail centre and visitor attraction. This are needs to become the “front door” to the
development, inverting the current arrangements. In this end, we support the new “book-end”
structure with its active ground floor and linkages through the site. Its scale, massing and
architectural treatment are logical and well-considered.
The landscaping scheme has clearly been considered integral to the success of this proposals, and it
is encouraging to see creative, well-formulated proposals are part of the application. Respecting the
palate of the industrial landscape of the harbour area is important and we feel this has been handled

Although we accept that this does not form part of these proposals, the area for redevelopment
created by the loss of the Blue multi-storey car park is integral to the overall development proposals.
For the record, we are not convinced by the proposed high-rise housing proposals and believe that
neighbouring proposals such as the Skyliner scheme should not be taken as a benchmark for massing
on this site. A more dense, lower-scale development on par with the new book-end building is
more suitable.

Finally, we note the variable climatic conditions in this area. As such, we appreciate the vision and
ambition but suspect that for most of the year, the exposed position will make this less attractive for
regular outdoor activity. Similarly, current climate impact reports suggest rising sea levels will be
inevitable with increased storm surge events and related impacts. An analysis of this should be
considered both at this stage and in any further proposals that might come forward.