Vacant Queen Str office block to become aparthotel

Erskine House on Queen Street. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Erskine House on Queen Street. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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A MULTI-STOREY “aparthotel” is set to open in a vacant office building in the heart of the New Town.

Developers have unveiled proposals to convert Erskine House, Queen Street, into a complex featuring 187 serviced apartments and a restaurant.

If approved, blueprints by Dexter Moren Associates – whose projects include the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard in London and FC Spartak Moscow’s Otkritie Arena – will also see existing courtyards restructured and extended down to basement level.

There are no plans for significant changes to the main exterior of Erskine House, which is not listed but bounded by category A-registered properties on either side.

The aparthotel proposal comes as city leaders prepare for a big increase in visitor accommodation space amid predictions that 9000 additional beds will be needed by 2021 to cope with soaring demand.

It also follows plans, unveiled earlier this week, which will see Rose Street’s Charlotte Chapel converted into a four-star boutique hotel and steak restaurant.

While supportive of moves to revamp Erskine House, resident leaders have raised concerns over possible traffic congestion and questioned whether the area needed another hotel.

Audrey Cavaye, secretary at New Town and Broughton Community Council, said she remained to be convinced.

She said: “It’s good they’re using an empty building but it would mean you have three hotels within 150 yards of each other – the planned one in Rose Street, the Roxburghe and this one.

“If there’s less parking, it will mean a reduction in car traffic but a huge increase in lorry traffic – and if anybody is stopping to let people out from a taxi, then it will cause chaos. Traffic is continual [on] that part of Queen Street.

“There could well be issues if they haven’t thought about that in their plan, but generally the council seems to be quite keen on [projects] like that.”

Erskine House is part of the first New Town plan, which was developed by James Craig in 1766.

Today, the site consists of the office block erected in the mid-1960s.

The proposed serviced apartments will be used as quasi-hotel spaces by business and leisure visitors. However, they cannot be used as permanent accommodation.

Leaders at developer SACO said the aparthotel would be a high-quality project for the New Town, adding that it would feature the latest technology.

Green energy monitors and tablets controlling everything from lighting to TV will be among the gadgets on offer.

A SACO spokesman said: “Our proposed redevelopment of Erskine House would result in the provision of high-quality, serviced apartments in a central Edinburgh location which we believe will be popular with business and leisure travellers alike, and the creation of new jobs.

“We hope that our application will prove successful, and that we can realise our long-held ambition of opening our own property in Edinburgh.”

The plans are due to go before councillors next week.

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com