Summerhall for sale

May 14 2024 | By | Reply More

Multi-arts venue and tech-hub on the market

The owners of award-winning arts venue Summerhall have put the building, in prime location at the east end of the Meadows, on the open market, “with all the current licences included”.

The building was bought in 2011 for £4 million by Oesselmann Estate Limited, a family-run trust. Summerhall’s founder, Robert McDowell, is a director of both OEL and Summerhall Management Ltd.

Robert McDowell at the launch of Summerhall’s 2024 Edinburgh Fringe programme. Pic: Thom Dibdin.

Summerhall Management Ltd is responsible for “delivering the annual calendar of events, community projects, as well as performative and visual arts offerings, culminating in the annual Festival Fringe programme.”

According to a release on the Summerhall website, “Planned events including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2024 and all year-round events will take place as planned.”

Summerhall Management Ltd say that they “welcome prospective new investment and hope to work closely with the agent and owners during the process to continue to build upon all that has been achieved over 13 years for the arts and culture of Edinburgh and Scotland.”

Over 110 companies currently rent rooms in Summerhall, on short term licences with a contracted annual income of around £1.1 million which goes to OEL.


Residents were informed of the sale by email at 10.40am on Wednesday, completely out of the blue. Building and Estates manager Marcus Pickering apologised for the blanket email and said he had to use the following exact working.

“Dear Occupier,
“I am writing to you to inform you of the decision taken by the owners of Summerhall to market the property for sale.  
“The property will be marketed with the inclusion of the licences of all existing occupiers within the whole of Summerhall so, it does not affect your terms of your occupation as stipulated in the licences of occupation you currently have.”

Robert McDowell said of the sale: “My hope is that with new owners buying the building, Summerhall will be strengthened for the future – and continue its miraculously extraordinary activities, new investment and vigour for the next decade and beyond…”

Summerhall from CuthbertWhite’s brochure for the sale.

McDowell describes the venue in this year’s EdFringe programme, launched earlier this week, as “a uniquely flexible multi-arts multidisciplinary set of exhibition and performance spaces to accommodate all creativity & cross-currents in our sciences & arts. If we are nationalist it is for all countries & people everywhere or nowhere!”

However, the marketing material on selling agent CuthbertWhite’s website is less concerned with maintaining the integrity of Summerhall as a centre of artistic endeavour.

According to the sale material, “Summerhall presents a unique opportunity to acquire an income producing thriving mixed use estate with extensive refurbishment and re-development options subject to planning”.

re-development and refurbishment options

It adds that: “Extensive mixed use re-development and refurbishment options including residential, galleries and entertainment spaces, boutique hotels, offices, studios, and student housing, subject to the necessary consents.”

Stephen Kay, the selling agent for CuthbertWhite said: “We are excited to be bringing this to the open market and we expect considerable interest in this property from a wide range of domestic and international parties. It is an important landmark in the history of Edinburgh, occupying an enviable location overlooking The Meadows.”

The Summerhall site runs to 2.1 acres and was originally a brewery and church between 1854 and 1932, before being partially demolished to make way for the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in 1916.

The site was extensively developed over the ensuing 50 years to include the addition of the modernist blocks – the current “Tech Cube” – in 1967-1971.


Summerhall website:
CuthbertWhite brochure for the sale:

Summerhall. Pic: Pete Dibdin

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