Empty Edinburgh ‘sky park’ to be demolished

The Autosafe multi-storey car park went into receivership in 2003. Picture: Graeme Robertson

The Autosafe multi-storey car park went into receivership in 2003. Picture: Graeme Robertson

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A HUGE city centre car park which has been lying empty for the last decade is set to be razed to the ground to create office space.

The £5 million Autosafe “Sky Park”, hailed as Britain’s most technologically advanced multi-storey when it opened in 2001, has been gathering dust since its operator went into receivership in 2003.

The 600-space facility on Morrison Street used robots to park and retrieve vehicles, allowing cars to be “stacked” in a way that took up half the space of its competitors.

Now the city looks set to draft in the bulldozers despite interest from another firm that claims it could save the car park for around £3.5m.

It is understood rival firm Merepark PLC is set to challenge the demolition bid by launching a judicial review.

Consultant Brian Dunlop, who is advising Merepark on its bid, alongside former councillor Tom Ponton, below, said the cost of bulldozing the futuristic car park and constructing new office space would be high and require a “feat of engineering”.

And he claims an insurance bond underwriting the initial project would have been sufficient to complete the work.

He said: “There was never an opportunity to complete the car park and I always assumed someone would do something because it is almost criminal to destroy something like this when it’s all there. With investment, half of the car park would be functioning within 12 months and the other half a year later.

“It’s crazy because the technology has marched on and nearly every major city in the world – like Beijing, Tokoyo, Budapest and Sydney – all have them.”

It is understood that the cost of running the robotics forced administrators to all but close the car park in 2003, with just four spaces in the forecourt left available.

A council spokesman said the site had a “long history of technical and financial issues” but admitted any redevelopment faced challenges because of surrounding buildings.

And he added: “The council is considering options for redevelopment and negotiations on this are likely to continue for several months. As this is still at a commercially sensitive stage it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment further just now.”