Multi-million pound EICC hotel plan set back as contractor pulls out of flagship scheme

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The Haymarket development has suffered a blow after its principal contractor pulled out.

A multi-million pound plan for a 350-bed hotel at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre has suffered a major setback after a contractor pulled out of the scheme.

The Evening News understands Sir Robert McAlpine, the building firm tasked with delivering the four-star hotel, has been deconstructing its scaffolding at the Haymarket site. Bosses at the firm cut dozens of jobs last year in a move believed to be down to financial difficulties.

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Workers had laid the foundations for building to get underway, but developer QMile said a ‘specialist hotel contractor’ is now set to take the reins instead. Although it is believed the cost of the project will rise as a result of the change, it is still claimed the scheme will be completed within two years.

Hyatt-EICC hotel and hotel school development at HaymarketHyatt-EICC hotel and hotel school development at Haymarket
Hyatt-EICC hotel and hotel school development at Haymarket

QMile is in charge of delivering the entire £350m Haymarket development, which involves the hotel, offices and space for retail and leisure businesses. It is being financed by M&G.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Works on the hotel are continuing in order to complete the building’s ground floor slab. At that point, the construction of the building will be handed over to a specialist hotel contractor.

“In addition, Haymarket Square, the public square within the middle of the development, is also nearing completion whilst last month Black Sheep Coffee opened its new premises at Haymarket Edinburgh.

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“On a project of the scale of Haymarket Edinburgh, we constantly review our construction programme and position.”

It is understood Sir Robert McAlpine has pulled out of the projectIt is understood Sir Robert McAlpine has pulled out of the project
It is understood Sir Robert McAlpine has pulled out of the project | Evening News

The spokesperson later added: “As was reported last year, Sir Robert McAlpine has restructured its business to focus on sectors rather than regions.

“This meant it was no longer practical for us to continue with their engagement and is the reason for us appointing a specialist hotel contractor.

“Haymarket Edinburgh continues to be funded by M&G and we look forward to completing the project over the next two years to further provide the city with a world class setting for business, leisure and hospitality.”

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Councillors approved the hotel in 2021 under a plan which would see the EICC operate it under a franchise deal with Hyatt Hotels, creating 200 jobs in the process.

The hotel is aimed at meeting demand for rooms among delegates who jet in from all over the world to attend events at the conference centre, run by the council as an arms-length body. It was originally hoped to open this year.

Sighthill/Gorgie councillor Ross McKenzie called for ‘clear lines of communication’ between the developers and residents living in the shadow of the works.

He said: “I first got wind of this over a month ago when people noticed work on the site had stopped. My primary concern is for the residents of the Dalry Colonies who have lived in the shadow of this development for over a decade.

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“Living next to a major development site can be a miserable experience and this particular building is being constructed right next to the Colony Flats.

“Residents need clear lines of communication with the contractor and they need to know that the end of the development is in sight. Currently, they have neither of those things and it’s past time for QMile to tell everyone what is going on.”

A ‘hotel school’ is also planned for the site, with city chiefs pledging it will help to train up a new generation of hospitality workers.

The EICC opened in 1995 and has brought more than 2 million delegates to the city since. However, its boss Marshall Dallas was the subject of controversy after he received a £72,208 bonus last year - the highest awarded by any local authority in the UK.

The Evening News approached Sir Robert McAlpine, M&G, City of Edinburgh Council and the EICC for comment.

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