PLANNING permission has been granted for a major new tourist attraction that will allow visitors to take in stunning views of Scotland's capital city.

People could soon get a chance to scale the Forth Rail Bridge for the first time and look over Edinburgh with a new 367-feet high viewing platform set to be built.

Edinburgh City Council approved the plans on Wednesday, with the tourist site expected to welcome 85,000 visitors annually.

The long-awaited Forth Rail Bridge Experience will add a walkway leading to a viewing platform on the structure, with a visiting centre and reception to be built at South Queensferry.

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The project, led by Network Rail, saw plans delayed amid rising costs, initially estimated at £35 million.

Following revised proposals, the price of construction has moved down to an estimated £24m.

On Wednesday, councillors approved the bid but support was not unanimous with concerns over a lack of disabled parking spaces and the “unacceptable” width of a path leading to the site from the local train station.

The tourist hub is expected to create 40 jobs in the area and boost the economy.

Tours at the Unesco World Heritage Site will last around two-and-a-half hours.

Groups of between 12 and 15 people will put on safety harnesses before being led out onto the bridge’s south cantilever, walking up to a viewing point at the top using walkways built into the structure.

The National: A visitor centre and reception area will also be builtA visitor centre and reception area will also be built

Plans state: “Existing access infrastructure on the bridge is to be utilised, and new sections added where required, in order to create a continuous safe access route to the top of the south cantilever.

“The new walkways required along the top member will be visually unobtrusive and will be largely contained within the line of the existing steelwork.”

Talking before councillors approved the plans, the SNP’s David Key criticised the project for having a “towering lack of ambition” on accessibility and parking for visitors.

The reception building will be accompanied by 56 parking spaces, four disabled parking bays and room to store 19 bikes.

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Key said the number of disabled parking spaces proposed was “not sufficient”.

Committee convener Hal Osler, Lib Dems, said: “I do strongly support the idea that we need to improve the disabled blue badge parking in it.”

Alan Ross, Network Rail Scotland’s director of engineering and asset management, said: “It’s great to see our plans for the Forth Bridge Experience moving forward.

“The team has worked hard to create this exciting design and we’re looking forward to working with the successful contractor to bring these plans to life.”