Facility for 1,000 planned

Concert venue planned on historic city site

Usher HallPlans to build a £45 million concert hall and arts hub in the heart of Edinburgh have been unveiled.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra and charitable trust Impact Scotland want to create a 1,000-seat auditorium in St Andrew Square with a studio and education facilities.

It would occupy a site behind the RBS headquarters at Dundas House to complement, rather than compete with, the Usher Hall (pictured) across the city in Lothian Road. It could also be used by the Edinburgh International Festival.

In a statement, the SCO said: “the auditorium would meet the long-recognised need for a purpose-built, mid-sized venue in Edinburgh, combining excellent acoustics with access for all forms of popular music, jazz, folk, chamber and other small classical music groups, as well as solo and song recitals and small dance ensembles”.

Impact Scotland would be responsible for managing construction of the building and would take over its operation.

Sir Ewan Brown, who has been chairing the Impact Scotland project board, said: “I see this as a global opportunity for a global city, combining the best of the old and the new to establish a venue that will attract performers, audiences and visitors from around the world.”

RBS said that it would retain the recently-refurbished branch at 36 St Andrew Square and would make available the land around the building and next door at number 35 to help make the project a reality.

An Edinburgh City Council spokesman said: “Since the publication of the Cultural Venues study in 2009, it has been recognised that a purpose- built facility for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra would strengthen Edinburgh’s mid-size venue offering and we have been working closely with the SCO and Impact as they progress their plans.”

He added: “We look forward to continuing these conversations with the orchestra, Impact board and our public-sector partners.”

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