Public meeting to discuss Edinburgh Accies plans
Stockbridge and Inverleith Community Council is to hold a public meeting to discuss Edinburgh Accies’ controversial plans to develop their Raeburn Place home. Campaigners have vowed to fight plans for the commercial development of the site which hosted the first ever rugby international, and the public meeting offers an opportunity to hear what exactly is being proposed for the site.
The meeting will take place in LifeCare House in Cheyne Street next Wednesday 18 July at 7pm – all welcome.
Local campaign group SoS Save our Stockbridge was established when the development plans were made public and now has almost 100 members. Explaining the reasons for the campaign on the group’s Facebook site, Ann Mcleod said: ‘This Group is for everyone who is against a 5000 seater stadium being built in Stockbridge in the centre of Edinburgh. The Stadium is to be built over the historic rugby grounds at Raeburn Place. These are the oldest rugby grounds in Scotland and the site of the first ever international rugby match. The area is surrounded by beautiful Victorian and Georgian buildings. It has a unique skyline across to Inverleith Park and beyond to Botanic gardens. I fear that a monstrosity of glass and steel would destroy this skyline and blight this historic area.”
She continued: ‘The current pitches are well used and well-loved by the community. The proposed stadium will require thousands of parking spaces and room for the structure itself, so one of the two historic rugby pitches would almost certainly be lost. Retail outlets are planned as part of the stadium. The Stockbridge area already has empty shops. I believe this massive development would destroy the character of the area. I believe this would adversely affect local businesses and reduce property prices. The chaos generated on the main road by the thousands of cars coming out of the stadium does not appear to have been considered. The drunken hospitality nights would also be unpleasant, there is already a problem with this. There is also concern about the historic walls and protected trees around this ground. This development is madness and totally out of proportion – Edinburgh Accies need to think again.’
However the rugby club believes that it must now ‘sensitively redevelop’ it’s existing facilities and that plans will bring benefits to both the club and the wider community. In an article posted on the club’s website before two pre-application consultation events held at the end of June, Edinburgh Accies said:
‘Raeburn Place is a sports ground with major historical significance. It’s home to the Edinburgh Academical Football Club, the oldest rugby club in Scotland, and the second oldest in the entire world. The first ever international rugby match between Scotland and England was held here in 1871. It’s a landmark of decades of sport and community, although in its current state you wouldn’t know it.
Finally the time has come to begin the sensitive redevelopment of this iconic sports ground and the Club is now in the final stages of the pre-application consultation, following which they will formally lodge for planning. Their main aim is twofold: to provide state of the art sports facilities and, in turn, to add to the vibrant Stockbridge community and benefit neighbouring schools.
The plans comprise two elegant double tiered buildings:
– A clubhouse and function suite facing onto Comely Bank Road. These facilities will be located on the top tier with space for retail units below. Its main entrance will be next to the currently disused Raeburn House Hotel, which has been bought privately to be transformed into a boutique hotel.
– Changing rooms located along Portgower Place. More excitingly, part of the top tier will be dedicated to a rugby museum focused principally on the historical significance of the ground and the Edinburgh Academical Football Club.
– Players can enjoy a full-sized rugby pitch and two smaller training pitches. The plans also provide for the relocation of the cricket pitch which has been absent from the ground for the past 5 years.
The benefits of the development are numerous:
– Income from the development will go to supporting sport at junior and youth levels throughout North Edinburgh.
– Schools, residents and clubs can enjoy high standard sports facilities.
– It’ll be one of the few sports facilities not owned by the council or a school and so will enjoy flexibility of use.
– It will also provide a top quality function space for Stockbridge.
– The museum will add culturally to the area as well as going towards preserving the history of the site, brining in new visitors to the area.
– The trees running along Comely Bank Road will remain.
– Perhaps most importantly though, the development is required to ensure the longterm survival of this iconic and historic club, not to mention the survival of sport at this 157 year old sports ground. Although there will be some space (only 5% of the development) allocated for retail units, this is nothing compared to what could materialise should the Club not be able to secure its future as proposed. These retail units will be a modest yet effective addition to Stockbridge business, and will provide the income to the Club to sustain the high standard of the sports facilities.’
Representatives of the club have been invited to attend next week’s meeting, and members of the SOS Save our Stockbridge group have confirmed their attendance. For more information about the meeting email: firstname.lastname@example.org