Hotel complex set for go-ahead on EICC doorstep

A MAJOR expansion of the Capital's financial district is set to be given the go-ahead with approval of a £150 million hotel and office complex next to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

An artist's impression of redevelopment at the West Approach Road
An artist's impression of redevelopment at the West Approach Road

The development, on the western side of the West Approach Road, will include a four-star business hotel with up to 400 rooms and a catering academy and hotel training school intended to provide jobs and training for 200 young people.

Planners have recommended approval in principal for the proposals, and the developers hope for detailed permission in time to allow them to make a start on the scheme later this year, with completion due in 2020.

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Part of the development will take place on top of an existing electricity substation and the B-listed facade of a three-storey Scottish Power office building in Dewar Place will be retained.

An artist's impression of the complex close to the EICC

The project is being funded by Catalyst Capital and carried out by Duddingston House Properties, the developer behind the controversial plans to turn the old Royal High School into a luxury hotel.

The development, known as Exchange 2, is in line with a vision set out by EICC chief executive Marshall Dallas for a hotel complex and industry training school alongside the conference centre.

It involves three separate new buildings – the largest, closest to Dewar Place, has six levels and houses the 400-room hotel; next door, a building of around the same height which could be either another four-star hotel or offices; and at the east end of the site a six-storey office building.

The proposals are expected to create 440 direct and 360 indirect jobs on site.

An artist's impression of the complex close to the EICC

The developers say the training element of the scheme means it is creating not just jobs but careers.

They say the jobs will pay at least the living wage, there will be no zero-hours contracts and the intention is to aim for 75 per cent local recruitment.

The catering academy will be run in conjunction with Queen Margaret University and the hotel training school with Edinburgh Napier University.

Catalyst Capital chairman Julian Newiss said: “We have worked very closely with the council to ensure that the original vision for the Exchange district can be fully realised. We have specifically designed the development to respond to the council’s desire for more high end hotels and offices, and a powerful vision for new tourism and training facilities to help people secure careers in the industry.

“The proposals will transform the approach to the city centre along the West Approach Road, creating a much more attractive gateway to the city centre. It will also bring £15m of new and improved public realm to the city’s West End, transforming facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.”