Placemaking In The Heart of Edinburgh

The month of August saw the annual transformation of Edinburgh city into a heaving, wonderful mass of festival-led celebrations. And nowhere is this cultural feeding frenzy more keenly felt than in the deepest heart of its historic city centre.

Now one of Edinburgh’s most exciting new districts, New Waverley stretches from the Royal Mile down to Waverley Station. At its heart is a new public square, Sibbald Walk that sits just off the Royal Mile behind the new Adagio Aparthotel.

Along from Waverley station lie The Arches, a row of 19 renovated Victorian arches which now host an eclectic mix of shops, cafes, restaurants and curiosities.

This year, the new square hosted The Edinburgh Cocktail Festival, that brought together a myriad of pop-up cocktail bars, food stalls, live music and DJs.

This followed hot on the heels of the Heverlee Festival at The Arches which celebrated all things Belgian – including food, beer and electronic music.

The Arches have also witnessed Freestival, the Fringe’s largest free festival as well as many one-off events, street markets and art projects.

Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame unveiled a 10-metre illuminated art work in celebration of St Valentine’s Day, and just around the corner, on the Royal Mile, we unveiled the UK’s largest poem to celebrate National Poetry Day.

New Waverley Terry Gilliam

What makes New Waverley special, especially now, is that just two years ago it was virtually a no-go area, right in the heart of the city. The Arches were boarded up and used for industrial storage by the council.

The roads and spaces now buzzing with The Arches and New Waverley’s three new hotels, or currently earmarked for new homes and offices, bore the remnants of the city’s old gas works and bus garage, which had remained for almost two decades as an ugly, unused development site.

The area during the Festival is brimming with visitors, the hotels are full and the cafes and restaurants are spilling out onto the pavements. In short, life in all its glory has returned to a part of the city which had been closed off for years.

Boosting the buzz further, last month, the UK Government announced that almost 3,000 civil servants will form a new office hub at New Waverley, meaning that this influx of new life and vibrancy is here to stay.

This is all part of a long-term plan by Artisan Real Estate Investors, the investment partnership driving New Waverley, to create a genuine sense of place for its city centre regeneration projects, building exciting, sustainable and vibrant locations in which to live, work and visit.

Anyone now witnessing the sheer exuberance and excitement of The Arches and the whole of New Waverley in general, would realise that this sensitive development mix is exactly what our city centres need if they want to continue to be attractive destinations work, visit and live.

The Edinburgh Cocktail Festival At New Waverley

As the 70th Edinburgh International Festival has now finished, we felt it was a good opportunity to reflect on our own festival experience. New Waverley welcomed the city’s first cocktail festival all curated and hosted by Scottish creative agency The Drink Cabinet, in collaboration with the Food + Flea Market, from the producers of The Pitt in Leith.

The Edinburgh Cocktail Festival invited consumers to the brand public square here at New Waverley called Sibbald Walk, in the heart of the Old Town, just off the Royal Mile. The event featured a unique cocktail hub teeming with buzzing bars, experiential events, masterclasses, live music performances and evening events showcasing emerging DJs and artists. Ketel One Vodka’s Bloody Mary Kitchen and Tanqueray Gin’s Forest were just a couple of the many innovative experiential experiences consumers got to enjoy throughout the festival month.

Lauren Stewart and Andy Gemmell – founders and directors of The Drink Cabinet UK – share a wealth of industry experience. The agency specialises in drinks marketing and Lauren said: “Myself, Andy and the team were really excited to bring the first ever cocktail festival to Edinburgh. The Festival brings so many visitors from so many countries and cultures, and our aim was to get everyone together in one place to enjoy some Scottish hospitality and incredible drinks in an incredible new space.”

Hal Prescott and Scotty Kirkham, the brains behind The Pitt in Leith, and the Food + Flea Market; also located here at New Waverley, provided fresh street food to accompany the cocktails throughout the month. Scotty stated: “It’s brilliant being part of a group of independent businesses, keen to breathe life back into a once neglected, but now rejuvenated, part of town.”

Charlotte Swanson from New Waverley said “New Waverley is fast becoming a thriving and exciting new urban quarter and we are delighted to support young entrepreneurs such as Lauren and Hal, in their endeavors of creative consumer experiences and supporting emerging talents. We have already attracted some great national and local businesses here and it was truly exciting to have had the festival spirit right on our doorstep during the month of August.”

To see what it was all about please visit: or find the event through these channels:

Facebook: Edinburgh Cocktail Festival
Twitter: @edfestcocktails
Instagram: @edfestcocktails
Hashtags: #ECF17 #EdCocktailFest

UK Government To Move 2,900 Civil Servants to New Waverley

Artisan Real Estate Investors, the partnership behind Edinburgh’s award-winning New Waverley development, has welcomed the decision to create a new UK Government regional hub for the city in 2020. The UK Government has announced that it will take approximately 190,000 sq. ft. of Grade A office space at New Waverley, moving some 2,900 civil service jobs into the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. This will include HMRC, which will run one of their 13 regional centres from New Waverley.

The new Government office hub will continue the momentum of New Waverley’s current development phase due for completion later this year, which will see high quality office space blend with restaurants, cafes and shops around a new public square.

Artisan’s £200 million, 7.5 acre mixed-use scheme seamlessly links Waverley Station with the city’s iconic Royal Mile, forming part of the Old Town’s UNESCO World Heritage site. During the last two years, New Waverley has delivered 400 hotel rooms, including two Whitbread hotels – a Premier Inn and a Hub by Premier Inn – and an Adagio Aparthotel overlooking the Royal Mile.

As well as completing 45 affordable homes, New Waverley has also delivered a row of 19 Victorian arches which has been transformed into a new artisan-based leisure café and specialised retail district for the city. Currently under development is a boutique hotel by Apple Apartments, and a further 148 new homes are also planned.

Welcoming today’s announcement, Artisan’s projects director Clive Wilding said: “Bringing the UK Government hub right into the historic heart of the city is a ringing endorsement for what we are building here – not just for New Waverley, but for the city of Edinburgh and for Scotland. “For New Waverley, it’s another significant step of our journey to restore life, vitality and energy to this very special part of Edinburgh’s historic city centre, and will be a natural fit for the exciting and vibrant mixed-use community we have created there. It sends out an important message that our city centres have the interest, value and capacity to attract investment from the very best employers, which sets an important precedent for Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland.”

He added: “People coming to work here will enjoy an unmatched working, leisure and living environment. On their doorstep will be one of Scotland’s major transport hubs as well as an eclectic mix of shops, hotels, cafes, bars, restaurants and homes in a location that reflects both the best of the city’s heritage and its future.
“They will find that New Waverley is a genuinely unique destination in which to work, live and enjoy time out. This is a transformational development of a UNESCO Heritage site, in one of the world’s most iconic yet delicate locations. It’s pioneering the future, whilst preserving the past, representing a blueprint for sensitive yet positive city-centre regeneration.”

The New Waverley offices in which the Government hub will be based will be arranged across two linked buildings providing some 190,000 sq. ft. of space and offering the highest levels of sustainability and operational efficiency. Employees will benefit from modern, well-lit Grade A office space with added staff amenities including a landscaped roof area providing sweeping views across the Waverley Valley. Work on the office development is currently underway and is due to be completed in summer 2019.

Cllr Gavin Barrie, the City of Edinburgh Council’s Housing and Economy Convener, added: “Today’s announcement will provide a tremendous boost to the New Waverley development as well as Edinburgh’s wider economy. Up to 3,000 civil service jobs being moved to the heart of the city will not only add to the growing vibrancy of the New Waverley area but it will also add hundreds of thousands of pounds to the local economy each year.

“The development already has an attractive public square in place for colleagues and friends to meet. If you combine this huge increase in footfall with the thousands of staff already working in Council buildings and other offices nearby, the sense of place already being created by the development will be greatly enhanced. The many new and existing shops, cafes, restaurants and other attractions in the local area will reap the benefits of today’s announcement for many years to come.”
New Waverley has won a range of place-making awards in 2017 – including best regeneration project for both the Scottish Property Awards and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards.