Rugby stars back Stockbridge revamp for Edinburgh Accies
SOME of the top names in Scottish rugby have backed a controversial development that would see a rugby stand, clubhouse and shops built in the heart of a conservation area in Edinburgh.
In a letter published in The Scotsman today, two-dozen players past and present pledge their support for the proposed £8 million development at the Edinburgh Academical Football Club (Accies) in Raeburn Place, Stockbridge.
The stars, including Finlay Calder, David Sole, Andy Irvine and Scott Hastings, say it would give the Accies, founded in 1857 and the second oldest rugby club in the world, “the best club facilities in Scotland”.
The club is currently forced to use Portakabins as its base after a property deal collapsed.
Frank Spratt, Accies executive chairman, has said that if the plan is not approved, the side will have to leave its historic home, regarded as “the cradle of rugby football in Scotland”.
The club currently pays about £100,000 in running costs, which is met by individual donors on a short-term basis.
An application lodged with council planners on Tuesday includes plans for nine retail outlets, a stadium seating over 2,000 fans, a clubhouse and a rugby museum.
Mr Spratt said capital costs would be met by anonymous philanthropic funders, providing the project was self-sustaining, generating income from the proposed shops.
Previous plans to redevelop the ground along with the nearby Raeburn House Hotel, owned by Festival Inns, fell through after the company went into administration in 2011.
Mr Spratt said that a “very small but vocal minority” opposing the development were putting the club’s future at risk.
“This is not about a choice of futures for sport at Raeburn Place. Either we secure this investment, or we and the sport will have to leave our historic home.”
However, members of Save Stockbridge say the plans threaten the livelihood of local shops and that the proposed stadium is too large. They also claim the “village” atmosphere of the area will be spoiled and lead to parking problems.
Bruce Thompson, chair of Save Stockbridge, and a former hooker for the Accies, said: “We would consider an alternative option for a much smaller stadium, but don’t want new shops on this site.
“The retail outlets could do a lot of damage to shops which have been in the area for generations. We accept and agree that Accies need changing rooms, toilets and a clubhouse, but it’s the vastness of this development we are against.”
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