Doubts over listed hotel’s future as plans face rejection

Archie Maclean fears he may have to sell Raeburn House if his plan is rejected.
Archie Maclean fears he may have to sell Raeburn House if his plan is rejected.
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A LONG-AWAITED bid to transform the derelict Raeburn House Hotel is set to be thrown out by planners over claims it will ruin the B-listed building.

Car dealership tycoon Archie Maclean wants to turn the Stockbridge landmark into an upmarket restaurant and bar with accommodation.

But planning officers said the plan, which would see the building restored and an extension added to the rear, would be detrimental to the building, despite it having lain empty for eight years.

Councillors on the planning committee will take a final decision next week and if they back officials’ recommendations Mr Maclean said he would be forced to sell the hotel, sparking fears it may end up becoming a chain pub.

Paying £1.5 million for the Raeburn, the Borders Motor Group owner narrowly outbid pub giant JD Wetherspoon, which is believed to still have an interest in the property.

Mr Maclean told the Evening News: “There’s been a huge amount of support for our proposals and I’m hopeful the councillors take the view that this is a very positive development for the area.

“This had gone from being a business project for us to almost feeling we have a responsibility to get it done.

“The local community have been hugely supportive and they don’t want to see this remain an empty building.

“We’ve seen buildings like Prestonfield House Hotel, which is A-listed, have a huge three-storey extension approved in the past, so we believe they are being inconsistent.

“If we don’t get permission we’ll probably have to put it up on the market again.”

John Bury, head of planning at the city council, said the planning service was keen to see the building refurbished, but the materials and design were “crude and not of the quality required for Georgian listed buildings in Edinburgh”.

The Raeburn has been empty for around eight years, and attempts to revive the business have failed.

At one stage pub tycoon Kenny Waugh, of Festival Inns, had intended to transform it into a £15m hotel and rugby clubhouse for Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place.

Local councillor Lesley Hinds, who will appear before the committee to urge it to support the refurbishment, said: “I have been to the public meetings where there were up to 200 people present and no-one spoke against the application.

“It might be years before another development comes along with a serious proposal and there won’t be any building left, so I hope councillors do support this.”