Hotel plan hope for eyesore office block

Shrubhill House has been empty since 2007
Shrubhill House has been empty since 2007
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AN office block blighted by antisocial behaviour is set to be redeveloped to create two hotels and a large retail unit.

Shrubhill House on Leith Walk will be placed on the market in the coming weeks, with agents saying that they have already received interest from overseas.

The former council social work headquarters has been empty since 2007 and successive plans to attract hotels and student housing have failed.

However, property experts, local residents and businesses are now hopeful developers will commit to revamping the site.

Agents for the site suggested that prospective developers had shown interest in the concept of creating two 120-bed hotels and a possible retail unit.

The council vacated Shrubhill House in 2007 as it centralised its offices across the city.

Student housing developer Unite won planning consent in March 2008, but pulled out to look for a larger site.

Previous hotel developers also pulled out when Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE) demanded £870,000 towards the now defunct Leith stretch of the city’s tram scheme.

Roland Reid, secretary of the Leith Central Community Council, said the bid represented an opportunity to bring tourists and visitors to an area needing huge investment.

He said: “I would hope this potential development would galvanise the city council to improve the paving, kerbing, bins and making it more attractive.

“Clientele from the hotels are likely to patronise the restaurants and bars and there would be a knock-on effect for the area.”

Keith Hales, vice-chairman of the Leith Business Association, added: “There’s been no development on Leith Walk for quite a while and this would bring business further down to Leith Walk.

“But the council needs to play its part and get started with the planned public realm works if it’s to impress investors.”

Shrubhill House has suffered vandalism and antisocial behaviour, including the theft of the huge metal security gates preventing troublemakers from entering the site.

Local councillor Angela Blacklock added: “A new hotel would lead to the shops being open later and there would be more like a boulevard feel to the area.”

Will Scarlett, director of land development and investment at Rettie, which is handling the sale, said: “We’ve had a number of approaches already.”

Public realm works will be discussed at the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership public meeting on March 21, at 7pm, at Lorne Primary School.