Letters: Fountainbridge doesn’t need yet another hotel

Edinburgh International Conference Centre would like to expand Fountainbridge with a hotel and hospitality centre.
Edinburgh International Conference Centre would like to expand Fountainbridge with a hotel and hospitality centre.
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Gavin Corbett responds to a column from John McLellan about a hotel in Fountainbridge.

In his column (News, June 7) John McLellan chose to bang the drum for Edinburgh Conference Centre and another 400-bed hotel in Fountainbridge. He and EICC are wrong.

Fountainbridge has been radically altered in the last 20 years. There is much that is good about that, but residents also worry that it has become a place for people to pass through, with 2220 new student beds, a big rise in short-term private renting and more party flats, especially around Grove Street and Brandfield Street.

READ MORE: John McLellan: Hospitality university could be cash cow for city

That is why Fountainbridge Canalside Initiative has worked imaginatively with planners and developers to present an alternative view of the area’s future: where permanent homes and workplaces are the priority; where the canal is seen as an active asset rather just a pretty backdrop, and where a mix of design, community and open space and the commercial offer creates a distinctive neighbourhood.

Five years ago Fountainbridge had one hotel with 40 beds. With new Mercure, Hampton and Moxy hotels there are 645 hotel beds now or in the pipeline - a growth of 1500% - to say nothing of the 225 serviced apartments and numerous guesthouses, airbnbs and summer lets of student accommodation. Fountainbridge is now awash with places for visitors to stay.

It has been argued, without evidence, that EICC has lost conference business because of a lack of hotel beds. EICC has also argued that it needs to invest in the facility and bizarrely, will do so by building a hotel on another site.

So, if there is no evidence of the need for more hotel space, no coherent business case and certainly no local support for it, what is the prompt for Cllr McLellan’s late conversion to the merits of council company EICC intervening in commercial markets?

Sadly I detect political opportunism: a Hotel of Cards. Councillors who are seduced by it are failing to heed what our city needs and what the Fountainbridge community wants.

Gavin Corbett, Green councillor for Fountainbridge-Craiglockhart