Tumbles soft play and gymnastics centre to be included in land sale

Ariel view of the Westbank Street site in Portobello that the council has proposed for sale.

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Ariel view of the Westbank Street site in Portobello that the council has proposed for sale. I
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A POPULAR gymnastics and soft play centre in Portobello is set to be included a controversial land sell-off by the city council.

Developers bidding for the Pitz five-a-side football complex in Westbank Street have indicated their interest in buying Tumbles, which fronts onto the Promenade, as part of the deal.

And now the council has suggested it could be willing to sell the centre on the condition the developers build a new one with the same facilities elsewhere on the site.

The move comes as concerns grow about the loss of the prime site which has a long history of leisure use going back to when it housed Portobello’s outdoor swimming pool.

The council marketed the Pitz site, which has eight pitches, back in February. The sales schedule included the Tumbles car park, but not the centre itself.

However, a consultation by the council now mentions the possibility of selling Tumbles and having it replaced somewhere else on the site. The land next to the beach is much more valuable than the rest of the plot.

Geoff Lynn, of Portobello community council, said: “Suddenly Tumbles has come into the frame. You can imagine a lot of glass, seafront property would be quite attractive from a developer’s point of view. But I don’t think people have been aware that this is on the table.”

He said people would be concerned if there was a gap between the current Tumbles closing and the new one opening. “It is a very popular place.”

The proceeds of the sale will be shared between the council and Powerleague, who have a long-term lease on the Pitz land. The council’s share will help pay for the new Meadowbank sports centre.

Bob Jefferson, who collected over 1100 signatures on a petition against the sale when it was first announced, said the community was going to lose a huge amount of open land.

“A lot of people in Portobello have just woken up to the fact the site is being sold,” he said.

“I suspect it is too late to stop it now. But I think there are lessons to be learned – why is the council allowed just to sell off open space like this without consulting the community?”

Green councillor Mary Campbell criticised the council questionnaire which asks if people would prefer the site to be all housing, all commercial or mostly one or the other. “It doesn’t ask if you would prefer it to be retained for leisure use,” she said.

“It has a long heritage of leisure use – it used to be the outdoor swimming pool.

“The move comes hot on the heels of two very large developments planned right on the other side of the High Street – and we don’t know what impact that is going to have.

“If we know there are going to be hundred of new homes in the area, selling another site for housing could overwhelm that end of Portobello.”

A council spokeswoman, said: “We are currently carrying out a public consultation on the redevelopment proposals for the land, which will be reported back to committee in due course.”