Grange Club could use ‘ransom’ cash from Accies project to fund new sports hall

OWNERS of a £1 million “ransom” strip at the controversial Accies development in Stockbridge want to sell it and use the money to fund a new sports hall at the next-door Grange Club.

By IAN SWANSON
Tuesday, 19th February 2019, 5:00 am
Accies ground. Pic: Jon Savage
Accies ground. Pic: Jon Savage

The narrow piece of land running along Comely Bank Road in front of where a new row of shops is about to be built as part of the £16m project belonged to the Grange Trust until 2017 when it was sold to a consortium of senior members.

Now they want to reach a deal with Raeburn Place Foundation, the charity formed to carry out the development of the historic rugby ground, and establish an income stream to help fund a sports hall.

Douglas Lowe, a former chairman of the Grange Trust who led the consortium, said he had proposed a sports hall some years ago and hoped Grange members would now take up the project. “It will be the making of the club to have indoor facilities,” he said. “They could have all-year-round tennis, hockey, nets. You can play badminton, football and have social events.”

It is understood the consortium paid £12,500 for the strip and has agreed to give the Grange Club half of any price they obtain for it, but the foundation insist there is no issue and have started work on the first phase of the development which involves creating a new parade of shop units on Comely Bank Road.

But Mr Lowe said the strip of land was essential to the Accies project. “It is impossible for them to develop it economically without access over the frontage. Who is going to have a shopping centre you can only get into at the west end of the parade?”

But he made clear he was not seeking to block the development. He said: “I want them to do it. It will be good for the Accies to have decent facilities for one of the greatest Edinburgh and Scottish sports clubs. I have always hoped we would come to some sort of sensible agreement.”

Former Grange chairman Peter Bailey, another member of the consortium, said the club had 630 active adult members and 550 juniors, as well as 90 social members, and was one of the premier sports clubs in the UK focusing on cricket, hockey, squash and tennis.

He said the proposed new hall would allow all-year- round indoor sports but could also be used by local schools during the day and be let out for indoor football. He said: “We’re happy if other people use it because that justifies having it.”

Grange Club secretary Gordon Tolland confirmed it was looking at the possibility of an indoor facility on land currently unused. He said: “Any significant financial contribution from Mr Lowe and/or any other party, would be an important factor in bringing forward a completion date.”

A spokesman for Raeburn Place Foundation said it had all necessary consents and permissions for the development and was happy to report good progress on site. He added: “RPF’s legal position is unchanged since it rejected previous opportunistic advances from Mr Lowe.”