Accies development must raise £2.5m in six weeks

An artist's illustration of the  Edinburgh Academical Club sports ground redevelopment in  Stockbridge
An artist's illustration of the Edinburgh Academical Club sports ground redevelopment in Stockbridge
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CAMPAIGNERS today claimed the controversial Accies development was in trouble after the foundation behind the project launched an appeal to raise £2.5 million in the next six weeks.

The plans for a new 5000-capacity stand, changing rooms, shops, cafe bar, function suites and a museum at the Raeburn Place sports ground in Stockbridge are being opposed by residents who claim it will change the character of the area.

A new promotional document issued to former pupils of Edinburgh Academy explains £2.5m is needed by the end of May so building work on the first phase of the project – including the shop units and function suites – can start before the end of June.

Supporters are being offered the chance to have their name on a seat in the new stand for a donation of up to £5000, carved into paving for up to £20,000, on a plaque in the entrance for up to £50,000 or carved into a stone wall if they give more than £50,000.

But Bruce Thompson of the Save Stockbridge campaign said the idea of raising £2.5m in six weeks was unrealistic.

Two years ago the Raeburn Place Foundation was forced to postpone the start of building work after failing to raise enough money.

Mr Thompson described the latest appeal as “a panic measure”. He said: “They have been trying for five years, they have had professional fundraisers and they have only raised £1m or so. How do they think they can suddenly get £2.5m in six weeks? There’s no chance of them getting that.”

He said back in 2012 the completion date for the project was given as June 2014.

The promotion document says three shop units have been pre-let to Marks and Spencer Simply Foods and another to a high street retailer, with two others “close to signing” and “strong market interest” in two more.

But Mr Thompson questioned why they had not all been pre-let since the foundation had previously claimed there was so much interest that the problem would not be who filled the units but “who should be turned away”.

The foundation’s document says first phase costs are £8.5m, with a £5m commercial loan under negotiation and £1m raised from donations, leaving £2.5m to be found by the end of May.

A spokesman said £2m had previously been raised for start up costs and insisted money was coming in.

He said the end of May was “not a completely drop-dead date”. But he said: “The fundraising has built up momentum over the course of 2018 partly because there has been less in the way of distractions.”

He blamed the delays in the project on “the small number of people in the local community that have made it so difficult”.

He said: “It has been tortuous at times but the light is at the end of the tunnel.

“We genuinely believe the vast majority of people in the community are very supportive of this development.”

He said there was still “a huge amount of interest” in the shop units. “There is no danger of them being built and being empty.”

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