Corn Exchange: Thousands back grassroots bid to save World of Football pitches

Thousands of people have backed efforts to prevent the demolition of the World of Football pitches at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 8:31 pm

The online petition has been signed by more than 2,500 people - less that 24 hours since it was set up.

It comes after London-based developers Watkin Jones submitted proposals to councillors to bulldoze the site behind the Corn Exchange to make way for build-to-rent (BTR) homes, in addition to student accommodation.

The location, just off New Market Road, is currently home to World of Football and World of Bowling.

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In its proposal, Watkin Jones cited the ongoing cost and environmental impact associated with the “old out of date buildings” at the site, which were converted from livestock sheds into football pitches more than two decades ago.

It insisted its redevelopment would retain the “character and elements” of the sheds.

But Bradley Gibb, author of the Change.Org petition, told signatories that “big business” was threatening the “life lines for our inner city youth.”

“For a lot this could be their only place of peace and refuge,” he wrote.

Thousands of people have backed efforts to prevent the demolition of the World of Football pitches at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange.

“We saved Gorgie Farm,” he added, “we can save the World of Football.”

Local under 16’s community team, Corstorphine Dynamo ‘06, backed the petition, telling followers on Twitter that the World of Football site is “an excellent facility for supporting grass roots youth football during the winter months.”

The campaign comes after community action successfully halted the 2018 sale of the Pitz five-a-side football pitches in Portobello.

The Council pulled out of the £6 million deal when locals demanded the retention of at least part of the site’s sports and leisure offerings.

Final designs for the World of Football and World of Bowling sites are yet to be released, but Watkin Jones suggested student accommodation would comprise 25 per cent of the proposed new “urban quarter”.

Before the u-turn, the Council had awarded Cala Homes a contract to redevelop the pitches into around 175 new residential properties.

Final designs for the World of Football and World of Bowling sites are yet to be released, but Watkin Jones suggested student accommodation would comprise 25 per cent of the proposed new “urban quarter”.

If approved by councillors, the “car-free” residential space - slated for completion in 2025 - would also include a large public square for use as a performance space and farmers market.

Watkin Jones, which was granted planning permission for 200 student homes in Iona Street in March, insisted it was “consulting extensively” with Chesser residents on the World of Football project.

Iain Smith, planning director for Watkin Jones, said: “We’re thrilled to be announcing our exciting scheme for this new urban quarter at Chesser, creating a thriving and diverse community as part of an overall redevelopment of the area.

“The site is in a highly sustainable location with excellent access to amenities and transport links and will be built to future-proofed high environmental standards.

Mr Smith added: “These proposals will greatly assist in the regeneration of this part of the city and we are consulting extensively to ensure that people from across the local area have an opportunity to input their views and shape our ambitious proposals.”

Watkin Jones is expected to hold an online public consultation event next month.

Its application comes after the Corn Exchange venue was bought by the Academy Music Group last month and renamed the “O2 Academy Edinburgh”.

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