Accies hope new ground bid is not kicked into touch

Edinburgh Accies' Raeburn Place home
Edinburgh Accies' Raeburn Place home
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Scotland’s oldest rugby club is to launch controversial new plans to build a new stadium and retail development.

Edinburgh Accies intend to transform their under-used site at Raeburn Place, Stockbridge, to provide the capacity for 5000 spectators.

The club – the second oldest in the world – also hopes to obtain planning permission from council chiefs to attract retailers to the new site.

Accies’ rugby and cricket squads, along with the Broughton Accies Trinity team, would share the main pitch and two smaller ones for mini rugby and cricket.

Developers said the scheme could even be extended to accommodate Edinburgh Rugby – which would require a capacity of up to 12,000 – should the pro city side express an interest.

Proposals are at an early stage but the new structure would comprise a two-storey building running along the southern edge of Accies’ playing fields in Comely Bank Terrace.

Another building, housing changing rooms, would run along Portgower Place on the eastern side. The ground floor would feature retail units facing on to Comely Bank Road.

The first floor, facing onto the playing fields rather than the street, would serve as a clubhouse, with tiered stands offering spectators views of the revamped playing fields.

Accies are currently without a clubhouse after a deal with Festival Inns to refurbish and transform the Raeburn House Hotel fell through last autumn.

Attracting retailers to the four units is key to financing the scheme.

Nigel Bagshaw, chair of Stockbridge/Inverleith Community Council, said residents were supportive but feared the impact of the large retail units.

He said: “We understand that the club need an income from the retailers, however it is the retail units that are the biggest point of concern.

“They’re quite large and we are worried about how it could affect traders in the area. “The developers are talking about a 5000-capacity stadium and there’s nothing low key about this at all.”

The proposals were revealed to residents and business owners at a recent meeting.

Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “There’s a lot of sympathy because of the position Accies are in. They have been in limbo for a long time and people want to see development and the club do well.

“There is a village feel to Stockbridge and this is a large development, a small stadium in a sense. We’re supportive of their aims to develop a new facility, but we have to ask if the retail units are right for the area.”

Three months of consultations with traders and residents are to be undertaken before formal applications are made to the city council.

Developer Frank Spratt declined to discuss the details of the scheme at this time.