Artisan plan

Caledonian Brewery to be converted into homes

The Caledonian Brewery closed last year

Regeneration specialist Artisan Real Estate plans to convert the former Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh into 170 homes after agreeing to buy it from Heineken UK.

Artisan has submitted proposals to develop the historic 1.9 acre site and a public consultation programme seeking feedback on the proposals will start in February.

Sitting at the western edge of Edinburgh’s city centre, the Caledonian was the capital’s last major city brewery prior to its closure last year.

Founded in 1869 by George Lorimer and Robert Clark, the brewery site and its range of distinctive B-listed Victorian buildings provide a significant reminder of the city’s once extensive brewing heritage.

Known locally as ‘The Caley’ the brewery was famed for using traditional brewing methods and equipment – such as open square fermenters and original direct fired copper kettles. 

Having passed through a range of ownerships during the past two centuries, the brewery was operated by Heineken from 2008 following the company’s acquisition of the UK assets of then owner Scottish and Newcastle. 

In May 2022, Heineken announced the closure of the Caledonian Brewery and subsequently put the site on the market.

Artisan Real Estate has a strong track record in delivering sensitive urban regeneration projects. This includes the New Waverley mixed-use development in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, as well as recently completing the transformation of Glasgow’s historic Custom House into a thriving hotel quarter.

HMRC offices at New Waverley
Artisan was behind the New Waverley development off Canongate and The Arches in Market Street

Welcoming the purchase of the site, Artisan’s Scottish regional director David Westwater said: “The Caledonian Brewery was an important part of Edinburgh’s past – and now it has the potential to become an important part of the city’s future.

“We plan to create a much needed sustainable, low carbon residential community with around 170 homes providing a healthy mix of accommodation. This will include a mix of one, two and three-bed apartments through to duplex units and mews houses, of which 35% will be affordable housing in line with the City of Edinburgh Council policy.” 

He added: “From the start, the brewery’s unique heritage and character will govern our development approach. Around one fifth of the homes will be housed in the existing listed buildings, which we will preserve and restore to their former glory.

“We will also, wherever possible, respect and reflect the original footprint of the brewery – including recreating the top-floor skyline of the maltings buildings which was demolished following a fire almost 30 years ago.” 

Most of the listed buildings on the site date from the late 19th to early 20th century and were constructed using distinctive red brick with white brick dressings.

The existing brewhouse and maltings were built in 1892 following designs by renowned Edinburgh architect Robert Hamilton Paterson, who also designed the Royal Scots War Memorial in the city’s St Giles Cathedral.

The maltings houses what was the last remaining direct fired ‘coppers’ to be used in the UK. Also listed is the 130-ft red brick chimney which towers spectacularly over the neighbouring community. 

The Caledonian Brewery site was placed on the market by agents JLL in November 2022 after Heineken had reviewed options to sell the site as a going concern. At the time, the global brewer said the Victorian infrastructure at the plant meant it was no longer economically viable amid falling production in the last decade.

A spokesperson from Heineken UK said: “This is a hugely significant site which has played a key role in the development of brewing in Edinburgh for more than 150 years.  

“It was a very difficult decision to close the site last year, but we are pleased that a developer of Artisan’s pedigree and experience will now take the site forward and preserve many of the brewery’s unique features whilst meeting the varied demands of modern and sustainable city centre living.”

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