Questions over charitable purposes of Accies development

Bruce Thompson is protesting the development of Accies ground at Raeburn Place as well as questioning the charitable status of the developers
Bruce Thompson is protesting the development of Accies ground at Raeburn Place as well as questioning the charitable status of the developers
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CAMPAIGNERS claim the foundation behind the controversial Accies development in Stockbridge is at risk of failing to fulfil its charitable purposes.

The Save Stockbridge group has written to the Scottish charity regulator OSCR raising its concerns.

The group claims the Raeburn Place Foundation, set up to spearhead plans for a new 5000-capacity stand, changing rooms, shops, cafe bar, function suites and a museum, has not managed to raise the cash required for the project and may only be able to complete the first phase of the scheme.

Bruce Thompson, chair of Save Stockbridge, said the foundation’s stated charitable purposes were the advancement of heritage and public participation in sport, but both the rugby museum and most of the sporting facilities were part of the second phase.

“If they only do phase one, that’s just the shops. It’s quite likely the sports facilities would never actually happen.

“Questions have to be asked about whether the charitable purposes can be delivered without the museum and without playing and changing facilities available to the public.”

Mr Thompson said in order to be granted charitable status the foundation had specifically told OSCR it would provide changing rooms for use by other clubs and teams; an upgraded pitch to allow 14 sessions per week for public use; a speed training running track for public use; and gym and fitness facilities for use by the public.

“We think it’s unfair for a charity to ask people for donations for a commercial development when the charitable part of it may never be built.”

In April, the foundation launched an appeal to former Edinburgh academy pupils to raise £2.5 million before the end of May so work on the first phase could start by the end of June. A promotional document explained the first phase costs totalled £8.5m; £1m had been raised from donations; and a £5m loan was under negotiation; which left £2.5m to raise.

Donors were offered recognition on a sliding scale from those giving between £1000 and £4999 getting their name on a seat in the new stand, up to £50,000-plus donors having their name carved into a stone wall at the ground entrance.

Today the foundation said it still planned to complete both phases of the development.

Marks & Spencer Food and Waterstones bookshops have been lined up to take units in the row of shops on Comely Bank Road.

A spokeswoman said she could not reveal how much had been raised by the latest appeal. But she said: “We are pleased with how things are progressing.”

She pointed out the first phase included the ground works and foundations for the entire scheme.

She said: “We will also have temporary facilities available to fulfil the sporting objectives.

“We are satisfied that our plans are in line with our charitable objectives.”

OSCR confirmed they had received the letter from Save Stockbridge and said it would be considered.