Firms transform old council site into an award-winning mixed-use development

Commercial nursery Johnsons of Whixley teamed up with four other businesses as part of a £40m transformation project where a former council depot has been converted into an award-winning mixed-use development.

The King’s Stables Road site which is situated in a historic quarter of Edinburgh includes a seven-storey private apartment block. This mixed-use development consists of 166 premium student accommodation, private roof terraces, a four-star apart-hotel, and a series of ground-floor commercial spaces, complete with stunning private and public courtyards.

Construction firm Bowmer & Kirkland delivered the scheme designed by award-winning architecture & landscape architects Fletcher Joseph Associates and Harrison Stevens. With P1 Contractors enlisting Johnsons to supply the plants to complete their soft landscaping elements.

The historic location presented several challenges. An extensive archaeological survey was carried out to determine the maximum depth of excavation to avoid disturbing medieval ground contents, and to preserve the historic boundary wall. Construction work had to be phased across several months to minimise the impact on surrounding roads, businesses and residents.

Johnsons supplied a number of tree and plant varieties to complement P1’s landscaping works. Trees included the multi-stemmed Amelanchier ‘Robin Hill’ in substantial 100-litre pots, Platanus orientalis ‘Minaret’, Amelanchier lamarckii and Quercus palustris.

Other plant species included shrubs, herbaceous and grass varieties such as Heuchera ‘Autumn Leaves’, Persicaria ‘Darjeeling Red’, Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’, Stipa gigantea, Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’ and Deschampsia cespitosa.

The improved public realm allows occupants and the wider public to weave their way through reopened historic closes and well-lit courtyards.

The student accommodation building is orientated to enjoy stunning views of the nearby castle and across the city from individual terraces or via a large private terrace on the fifth floor, which features carefully curated planting. Other shared facilities include an integrated cinema, laundry, social lounge with a co-work area, gym and seminar room adding to the value of this accommodation.

Portions of the scheme have already scooped several awards, including Private Halls of Residence of the Year at the recent Student Accommodation of the Year ceremony.

Richard McMonagle, Director of p1 Contractors Ltd, said: “We are delighted to have teamed up with Johnsons of Whixley again on this project. Although not the largest project we have worked together on, the demand here was for quality given the nature and location of the project, knowing we would get this from Johnsons made it an easy choice. As always, Johnsons made life easy for us accommodating last-minute changes and deliveries into a tight city-centre location.”

Ellie Richardson, marketing manager at Johnsons of Whixley, added: “Edinburgh is one the world’s favourite cities and is undoubtedly one of mine. It’s fantastic to work with some great businesses and see our plants beautify this significant mixed-use development which overlooks the iconic Edinburgh Castle. “

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