Wednesday December 21st 2022
Architect's impression of the new Hillend building.
Work is due to begin in January 2023 on a new junction, access road, car park and landscaping that are key to delivering Midlothian Council’s ambitious vision for Destination Hillend.
The New Year will also mark another milestone when the council invites tenders for Scotland’s first Alpine Coaster, complete with a unique 360 degree turn feature.
The transformation of Midlothian Snowsports Centre in the Pentlands into a multi-activity leisure attraction will also include one of the UK’s fastest zip wires, reaching speeds of up to 50 kilometres an hour and routed over the new building.
Once completed, Destination Hillend will also offer indoor soft play and climbing, shops and a high-quality food court, all housed in a modern, energy-efficient building, which will be fully accessible by bus.
The planning application for the building will be submitted in the spring. The council also plans to lease land for glamping next to the activity centre.
Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for economic development, Councillor Douglas Bowen said: “We’re hugely excited to reach another key stage in this project to turn the snowsports centre into a national, if not international, tourist attraction and to safeguard the future of a facility already well-loved by everyone from Olympians to novice snowboarders.
“We make no apology for the scale of our ambitions – we’re confident the project’s unique location in the foot of the Pentlands and the quality and breadth of what will be on offer will push visitor figures up from around 139,000 a year to an estimated 485,000.
“The centre already boasts the longest and fastest dry ski slope in the UK and the only one with a chairlift along with a well-used new funslope and other attractions like tubing.
“However, the building itself is no longer fit for purpose so we need to breathe new life into what has potential to be one of the most exciting leisure destinations in the UK.”
The council has been working with a leading management consultancy in the leisure sector to look at the projected economic benefits of the venture.
It is estimated 150 full time equivalent jobs will be created during construction and up to 157 full time equivalent jobs from when the facility is finished.
The project is forecast to bring in just over £1 million a year to the council once finished, helping support other council services and benefit the wider local economy by up to £3.8million.
Cllr Bowen said the road and access improvements, car parking and landscaping will make a significant impact on cementing the project’s future success.
“The work starting in January is a significant push forward as the improved access will bring key benefits to our project helping create a tourism hub at this location.
“The new junction, for example, will also enable infrastructure for planning a hotel and Pentland Bike Trail centre on neighbouring sites, while the updated road will allow coaches and buses to drop people off right outside the main entrance.
“The current bus terminus from the A702 will move to adjacent to the main entrance at Destination Hillend creating direct link to Edinburgh city centre.”
Meanwhile an expanded and improved car park will have spaces for more than 400 vehicles.
Cllr Bowen said the Alpine Coaster could be taking its first passengers before the end of 2023, while the zipwire could be open by spring 2025 and the building finished by later in 2025.
The junction improvements are limited to the entrance to the Hillend site and a new pedestrian crossing. The upgrading work does not cover the junction between the A702 and A703 for which people have been calling to be improved for a long time.
The junction improvements at the entrance to the Hillend site.Tweet Share on Facebook