The Gateway to the future

An artist's impression of the new student accommodation
An artist's impression of the new student accommodation
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ONE of Edinburgh’s oldest theatre buildings could be demolished to make way for student flats.

Developers want to use the site of the former Gateway Theatre on Elm Row to build a new development to accommodate 155 students.

The development is being described as a “study hotel” and developers insist the accommodation will be upmarket and not “down-at-heel” student digs.

The Gateway, which closed in 2005 after a safety inspection revealed major defects in the building, is currently owned by Queen Margaret University as the theatre formerly housed its drama centre.

Developer London Cornwall Property Partners (LCPP) is in the process of buying the site from the university for an undisclosed amount.

LCPP specialises in “upmarket” student accommodation and the Elm Row development will be its first venture in Scotland.

The new development will include a cinema, gym, seminar rooms and communal lounge areas for its residents, as well as a City Car Club space.

LCPP partner Tim Attlee said: “We are a specialist developer in purpose-built student accommodation.

“We are very much at the higher end of the student accommodation spectrum in terms of what we offer.

“If we were to make a comparison with a hotel, we would consider ourselves to be Malmaison rather than Travelodge.

“It will be a managed facility so what we are not doing is building a whole bunch of accommodation and saying ‘off you go’.

“The message that we are trying to make clear to people is that it’s not down-at-heel student digs we are building.

“The materials we are using and standard of accommodation we are going to provide is high.

“You can think of it as a study hotel as it will be more like the way a hotel is run and managed than a first year halls of residence.”

Queen Margaret University submitted plans back in 2007 to demolish the theatre and replace it with 42 new flats and townhouses.

The plans were approved, despite receiving opposition from theatre experts, city heritage chiefs and local residents. However, they were later shelved.

The new application is also expected to attract opposition, particularly as the site will be used to house students.

Louise Lang, the Lib Dem councillor for Leith Walk, said: “Everybody wants to see disused areas developed.

“However, there have been concerns raised in the past so obviously councillors and local residents will be keen to make sure these previous issues are addressed.

“Because it’s for student accommodation, it’s likely that we will see a high level of attention with regards to this application so I will be looking at it closely.”

If plans are approved, LCPP hope to begin working on the site early next year with a view to having the accommodation ready for students in 2013.