PLANS for a Forth Bridge visitor centre and bridge walk experience are on track after planning permission was granted.

Network Rail submitted proposals for the new hub at the South Queensferry side of the iconic bridge – which celebrated its 130th anniversary earlier this month – to the City of Edinburgh council last September.

It means visitors will be able to access the world-famous structure and explore its heritage as well as the outstanding views from 367 feet (110 metres) above sea level.

The proposals will see construction of a bridge walk and reception hub on the south side of the UNESCO World Heritage site, which will be used for preparing those heading out on the bridge walk as well as providing an access point to the structure.

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.

Up to three groups an hour will be permitted on the bridge, with each tour expected to last around two-and-a-half hours.

It's estimated the bridge walk experience could attract around 85,000 visitors, bringing benefits to the local community and creating around 35 to 40 jobs.

Longer-term plans to create visitor facilities at the north end of the bridge are also under development and could see future access to the top of the north cantilever, via a lift.

Alan Ross, Network Rail Scotland’s director of engineering and asset management, said: “We are pleased to have secured planning consent for the project.

“The bridge walk experience will offer the public a unique and memorable visit to one of Scotland’s most-loved structures and bring extra tourists to the town.

“We are fully committed to working with the people of Queensferry to deliver our plans sensitively and with as little disruption as possible.”

The attraction is part of a 10-year plan to boost visitor numbers to the bridgehead area which was launched in North Queensferry by tourism secretary Fiona Hyslop last year.