Campaigners look to join work on Accies stadium

Artist's impressions of the Edinburgh Accademicals development plans for the ground at Raeburn Place, Stockbridge.
Artist's impressions of the Edinburgh Accademicals development plans for the ground at Raeburn Place, Stockbridge.
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WORK on the controversial Edinburgh Accies stadium is set to begin in summer 2015 – as campaigners ask to be included to avoid being left with a “white elephant”.

The redevelopment of ­Edinburgh Academicals’ ­Raeburn Place home, which has divided the Stockbridge community in recent years, has been given the green light by city ­planners.

Planning permission will allow Scotland’s oldest rugby club to revamp its ground into a state-of-the-art hub boasting a 5000-capacity stadium, new clubhouse, function suite and museum.

The scheme will be financed through a ground floor stretch of nine retail units facing on to Comely Bank Road.

In a statement, the club said: “We are delighted to ­announce that planning ­permission for the development was formally granted on Wednesday July 2, 2014.”

Community campaigners have opposed the plans, complaining the ambitions of a “rich man’s club” were taking precedence over local shops.

But Bruce Thompson, chairman of Save Stockbridge, said they wanted to be involved in the project to represent the views of local people.

“The huge majority of local people are opposed to this development; they are concerned for their local shops, for the environment, for the loss of views and that the open land within a conservation area is to be so undeniably violated,” he said.

“For a management team who watched their clubhouse being accidently demolished in 2007, forcing them to move into a hutted encampment for the last seven years, who ignore the views of local people, it would seem arguably dangerous to allow them to be involved in the construction of such a massive structure. Can they be trusted with this project? What the local people don’t want is to be left with a white elephant, ­unsightly and derelict.

He added: “It is not too late for constructive engagement by all with a view to finding a better and more consensual way forward which might also be more appropriate for their budget.”

Some of the sport’s biggest names, including David Sole, Scott Hastings and Finlay Calder, are among 24 current and former players who signed a letter in August 2012 supporting the Accies plans.

Accies executive chairman Frank Spratt said: “There have been some in this ­community who are ­bitterly opposed to it but there are others who support it. We are more than happy to keep ­locals informed and involved going forward.

“Once it is built and in place I’m sure that people will see it for the wonderful amnenity it will be.”

david.oleary@edinburghnews.com