Long-standing plans to upgrade one of Europe’s longest established dry ski slopes and still the UK’s biggest are moving ahead.
Work is due to begin this month on a new junction, access road, car park and landscaping that are key to delivering Midlothian Council’s ambitious vision for Destination Hillend.
“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,” said Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for economic development, Councillor Douglas Bowen.
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.
“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,” continued Councillor Douglas Bowen, adding, “We make no apology for the scale of our ambitions – we’re confident the project’s unique location in 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 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 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.
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