WORK is set to begin on a £200 million development plugging one of Edinburgh’s last major gap sites, which has lain empty for more than 45 years.
Contractors will launch preparatory works on railway tunnels at Haymarket Station within weeks ahead of a huge construction project that will create a new business district in the West End. The work on the tunnels will last 12 months and signals the start of a major development boasting shops, offices, cafes, bars and restaurants, 165 serviced apartments and a 320-space underground car park.
It is thought the huge complex has the potential to create up to 3500 jobs.
Disruption to rail users will be minimal, with activity scheduled for after dark when rail services will have ceased.
Archaeological excavations will launch in February and see the permanent closure of the NCP car park, with on-site construction set to begin in the spring.
Completion of the first building phase is set for 2016.
Tenants already signed up include Tesco, Pret A Manger and Prezzo, as well as apartment-hotel operator Staycity.
The four-acre plot has lain derelict for decades and construction efforts have struggled to get off the ground.
Plans were thrown out in 2009 because of concerns over the impact of a proposed 17-storey hotel, and revised designs also had to be re-submitted after developer Tiger Developments – which paid more than £40m for the site from the city council at the height of the property boom – failed to pre-let space to occupiers.
Construction firm Interserve and Tiger are now pursuing a joint venture on the site.
David Westwater, Interserve’s development director, said they were “looking forward” to starting “one of the best city-centre development schemes to be found anywhere in the UK right now”.
He said: “We will continue to work closely with the local community in the Haymarket area and wider city stakeholders to ensure all construction work is communicated well in advance and any potential disruption kept to a minimum.”
John Nesbitt, managing director of Tiger Developments, added: “We have been involved with this exciting project since we acquired the site in 2006.
“We are now looking forward to bringing it to fruition working closely with our new development partners Interserve to finally give the Haymarket area the high quality of mixed-use development which it so richly deserves, providing a critical balance to the overall development of Edinburgh’s city centre.”