New hotel ‘proof of boost from trams’

The former HMRC building.  Picture:  Neil Hanna

The former HMRC building. Picture: Neil Hanna

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DEVELOPERS are to build a 130-bed boutique hotel opposite the York Place tram stop – as business chiefs increasingly battle to cash in on the ­eight-mile transport link.

Charlotte Square-based ­Consensus Capital Property are drawing up plans for the major hotel development, which would replace the former HM Revenue and Customs ­building.

The existing office block on the site – which is situated immediately next to St Saint Paul’s and St George’s Episcopal Church – would be either converted or demolished.

The developers estimate the hotel will take 14 months to build once they get planning permission, meaning a 2015 opening date is likely.

A pre-application notice has already been submitted to Edinburgh Council.

Consensus Capital chief executive Andrew Montague said the city centre location – less than 100 metres from the York Place tram stop – had been a major attraction. He said: “We’ve got two operators who we’re in discussions with at the moment. One is a four-star operator and the other is an apartment hotel operator. It’s a matter of picking between the two and we’ll hopefully know in the next four or five weeks who we’ll be running with.

“We specialise in ­converting existing buildings into new uses.

“If this hotel goes ahead, it’ll be fantastic for Edinburgh because of increased tourism. It’ll create jobs – not just ­long-term jobs – but also much-needed construction jobs in the city.”

Ruth McKay, Edinburgh chairwoman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the application was an indication that businesses and developers were thinking about leveraging off the £776 million tram line.

She said: “These are all very, very good signs actually. When you’re bringing in hotels like this, that just creates more ­footfall, bringing more people into that part of the town.”

Conservative transport spokeswoman Councillor Joanna Mowat said the plans were a vindication that trams were “driving development”.

She said: “This is an indication of the ‘tram effect’. That was what was planned – we would see development along the length of the tram route.”

The plan is the latest in a string of recent hotel applications surrounding York Place and the top of Leith Walk.

Developers have revived plans to build a hotel on the Picardy Place roundabout as part of overall ambitions for a £850m St James Centre 
overhaul.

A luxury 239-bed, four-star hotel is also being built next to the Playhouse Theatre on Baxter’s Place.

Consensus Capital is a fledgling developer, having only been running for about 13 months.

The former HM Revenue and Customs building the firm intends to overhaul is being used as an assessment centre for occupational health service provider Atos Healthcare.

We revealed last month how the trams are expected to be operational by May.