Call to save Palais de Danse façade

The Palais de Danse hosts an episode of the BBC series Come Dancing
The Palais de Danse hosts an episode of the BBC series Come Dancing
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The former Palais de Danse in Fountainbridge is to be ­levelled and turned into ­student flats.

Specialist developer Select Property Group has secured planning permission for the £41 million project.

Operating under the firm’s Vita Student brand, the project will see the former dance hall – most recently a Mecca Bingo venue – transformed into 261 studio flats, along with a 5000 square foot “social hub”, including private study rooms, a movie room and gym.

The development, due to open in September next year, will also feature shops and leisure facilities and marks the final phase of the city’s Fountainbridge regeneration scheme, which includes retail, office and residential accommodation.

But the plans have drawn criticism from residents and historians who called earlier this year for the hall – which was built in 1911 and launched many romantic relationships – to be transformed into a music venue.

They pointed out that Fountainbridge already has student flats and claimed no more were needed.

Yesterday local Green councillor Gavin Corbett said there should have been affordable housing included in the plans. He said: “The former Palais is the gateway to Fountainbridge and its current empty and unloved state is something that has needed action for the best part of ten years.

“Personally, I’d have preferred the retention of the art deco façade as a connection to the Fountainbridge of earlier years.

“And I think there’s at least as strong a case for affordable housing as for student housing on that site. A mixed development might have been more appropriate.

“But now that the planning committee has made its decisions let’s get something built that enhances the area.”

Ken Knott, chief development officer of Select Property Group, said: “Select are immensely proud to be advancing the final phase of the Fountainbridge Regeneration Scheme and the news is a significant milestone for our business and the latest step in us bringing the Vita Student brand to Scotland.

“After 18 months of working with the city’s planners, we’re delighted they now truly understand our award-winning Vita Student product and its unique position in the market.

“Vita Student places as much emphasis on customer service as it does offering stylish accommodation.

“This revolutionary customer-led approach to the student sector makes us fundamentally different which is why we can boast 100 per cent occupancy across our residences and win awards acknowledging our dedication to the student customer.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com