Gap site project buoys property recovery

The Haddington Place site has lain derelict for several years
The Haddington Place site has lain derelict for several years
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A DERELICT site close to Edinburgh city centre is to be redeveloped in the latest sign of a pick-up in the property market.

34b-40 Haddington Place on Leith Walk, adjacent to the McDonald Road library, has been sold to Yorkshire development company S Harrison Developments for an undisclosed sum.

The announcement follows similar deals to develop gap sites at Caltongate off the Royal Mile and the Morrison Street car park at Haymarket.

The half-acre Leith Walk site was part of the city’s original 
Botanic Garden and until recently housed the Botanic Cottage, which is due to be reconstructed during the next 12 months at the Royal Botanic Garden.

In 2009, there was a proposal to build a 205-bed hotel on the site, which is within the New Town conservation area. Harrison is hoping to build student accommodation with retail space on the ground floor. It is the company’s first acquisition in Scotland.

David Clancy, director, said: “We are delighted to have acquired this important site, our first in Edinburgh, and we are assembling a team of locally-based professionals to assess the options and bring forward a scheme which is appropriate to the area and will enhance it.

“The site has been derelict for some years and we are looking first to tidy it up. We are already planning discussions with the council and with members of the local community about projects to explore the archaeology of the site in which we hope the public will get involved.”

Harrison has recently partnered with Edinburgh-based Buccleuch Property on a 
£32 million scheme to regenerate West Offices, a Grade II listed former railway station in York, now headquarters for City of York Council.

Clancy hopes Haddington Place will be the first of many investments in Scotland. 
“Edinburgh is such a vibrant and exciting city and we’ve been impressed by the quality of the professionals with whom we have worked to conclude the purchase.”

Agents Hendersonherd and Smith Cole Wright, together with Leslie Wolfson Solicitors acted for the sellers with solicitors Brodies acting for Harrison.

The company has appointed East Kilbride architecture practice ICA to explore design options and is working with the Edinburgh office of planning consultancy Turley.

Caltongate is arguably the most controversial of the developments now going ahead because of its design in a sensitive conservation area.

The Haymarket development received a £100m boost from investment bank Evans Randall, which will transform the former railway goods yard that has lain derelict for 50 years.

Plans have also been submitted for an £850m redevelopment of the St James shopping centre.