Festival organisers have been warning for years that the shortage of affordable accommodation is a serious threat to its future success, pricing many visitors and performers out of taking part.
This would create far more cheap accommodation at a stroke than any other realistic alternative – and it would earn a pretty penny for the cash-strapped council coffers at the same time.
We know this kind of accommodation can be managed reasonably smoothly because we’ve done it before. The huge campsite established at Hunter’s Hall in the run up to the G8 Summit at Gleneagles ten years ago proved to be an effective of way of handling the influx of visitors to Edinburgh. There is no reason why that can’t be managed again, although there may be some concerns about including bars on the campsite.
The downside is the disruption it will cause for people who live near the park and use it. The influx of temporary residents would certainly inconvenience them, whether it is longer queues for their groceries at Sainsbury’s or people coming and going from the site.
What is more, Inch Park would normally be busy during August, full of dog walkers, footballers, children playing and families enjoying picnics. The temporary campsite will limit that to some extent at a time of year when more residents are likely to enjoy it.
That is not to say that the campsite idea should be scuppered. The answer is perhaps to let it go ahead but ensure that there is sufficient payback for the local community.
The city can expect to receive a handsome rent for the use of the park which will come as a welcome boost in these austere times. How about ringfencing a portion of those funds for local environmental improvements? That would be fair compensation.