Tycoon’s hotel bid needs public’s help

City planners want Raeburn House Hotel to be run as a bar
City planners want Raeburn House Hotel to be run as a bar
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CAMPAIGNING residents are usually the scourge of property developers hopeful of securing planning permission for multi-million-pound developments.

But one businessman is hoping residents will actually help him gain consent for the redevelopment of a famous Edinburgh landmark.

Car dealership tycoon Archie Maclean, who has bought the historic Raeburn House Hotel in Stockbridge, said he was asking for the assistance of locals after “discouraging” talks with city planning chiefs.

Having already bought the derelict building for £1.5 million, it is understood he wants to spend a further £2m renovating and modernising the B-listed structure.

But early talks with the local authority have left him furious after it suggested he should keep the development simple and turn it into a pub, in keeping with consent already secured by former owner Festival Inns, before it went into administration.

Mr Maclean, who made his fortune creating the Border Motor Group, which has branches throughout Scotland and the north of England, said a previous deal to build a new clubhouse for Edinburgh Academicals would not be taken forward.

If permission would not be granted for a “high quality” but small hotel, he added, he would be forced to sell the building for which he has had six inquiries, despite having only bought it at the end of last year.

Ahead of a public meeting in the area on Thursday, he said: “We’ve put posters up across Stockbridge basically telling people that we need their support if this is to happen.

“We have not been at all encouraged by the meeting with planners. To be truthful, we’re disappointed and if we can’t get the support we’ll have to abandon this and put it back on the market. More details will be revealed on Thursday, but it is not a big development and we are not looking to do anything radical.”

Planners indicated to Mr Maclean that they would be in favour of a single-storey extension being built and the business being run as a bar.

Mr Maclean said: “We don’t see that as financially viable. And I don’t think that’s what the people would want either.”

He hopes people will convince the council his proposal is worth taking forward.

One of his neighbours is Edinburgh Accies. They had struck a deal with Festival Inns to allow them to build on to their land, in exchange for the construction of a new club house. They bulldozed theirs before the company went bust, leaving them working out of portable cabins.

A council spokesman said: “Initial meetings have taken place and we await the submission of a planning application.”

The open meeting will take place at Lifecare on Cheyne Street from 7pm.