Haymarket gap site for £200m scheme put up for sale

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One of the city centre’s most prominent gap sites has been put up for sale.

Developers Interserve clinched a rescue deal worth £10.5 million in 2013 to work alongside Irish firm Tiger in building a £200m scheme in Haymarket consisting of offices, cafes, bars and restaurants.

The development at the heart of Edinburgh’s financial and commercial centre promised to be the city’s best connected office location, being within a couple of minutes’ walk of tram, bus links and Haymarket station, which is undergoing a £30m transformation.

The sale will spark renewed hopes of kick starting much-needed development, with the potential to create up to 3,500 jobs. The project has been hit with a series of delays, including underground tunnel work, meaning the former Morrison Street Goods Yard has sat vacant for half a century.

Some have branding the Morrison Street site an “eyesore”. There is now hope a new investor can be found to move the multi-million pound project forward and a planning application is to be lodged with City of Edinburgh Council this week. There will be minor amendments to the plans proposed to date that were approved in spring last year.

Dougie Sutherland, executive director at Interserve, said: “Following a strategic review of the project, Interserve has decided to explore options to realise its investment in Haymarket, having completed an extensive groundworks programme on the project and submitted a revised planning application to the City of Edinburgh Council. The project is now at a natural point where we feel it is right to consider our options around the release of capital from this development.”

The three-acre site and mixed-use scheme already has planning permission for three contemporary office buildings, retail space, a 190-bedroom hotel and a 170-unit apart-hotel. However, new investors may want to put their own stamp on plans.

The sale comes after the city council announced it will launch a new drive to target big-spending visitors and expensive hotel chains amid warnings Edinburgh is failing to meet key industry growth targets.

Councillor Gavin Barrie, convener of the economy committee, said: “If it means the site will be built on, then so be it. It has been a bit frustrating so far, but there has been some radical engineering works to lay the foundations in the tunnels between Waverley and Haymarket. There is a huge amount of development in Haymarket and I’m sure at least one investor would see this as a prime opportunity.”

The sale is being marketed by joint agents JLL and Dougray Smith. City centre Tory Cllr Joanna Mowat said: “The site is brilliantly located and it has real potential to have that as a new hub.

“Office space is really important to this area. It is better that things move on instead of stagnating.”