Bruce Thompson: Raeburn Place fight not over

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Just over half a century ago I played rugby against Edinburgh Accies on their Raeburn Place ground.

As a young, enthusiastic player, I looked up to this then great and successful club in awe and respect.

Today, the club has potentially created a loss of community spirit, a threat to the viability of local shops, a violation of the conservation area, loss of views and considerable stress to local residents.

The club currently attracts 100-150 spectators to its home games, so why does it need a stadium and standing facilities for 5000 together with a shopping mall and function suites able to accommodate 1200 guests? The argument against this massive development is strong and has been well fought, but challenging such a powerful body within the city has not been easy. We believe the planning application was flawed and throughout showed total bias to the applicant – this is currently in the hands of the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman.

There was, and is, overwhelming opposition to the development, with almost 3500 local people signing a petition against. The few diehards who support this £12 million structure are, in the main, professional and decent people.

They are all entitled to their views, but this is a huge amount of money and they must ask themselves if they can trust a developer which has seemingly pushed the club into so many contentious issues.

One of my biggest concerns is that no proper traffic assessment was ever done.

The planners maintain that there will be very few additional trips as a result of this development. This would seem to be quite inexplicable, but only time will tell.

I would anticipate a complete 
bottleneck in the whole area with ongoing problems for the emergency services, all of which use Raeburn Place as a main route. Despite several approaches by Save Stockbridge to the developer, they have failed to satisfy any requests for change.

There are options which might be acceptable to the local community, who incidentally are all keen that the Accies survive and continue, in perpetuity, to teach and encourage rugby at Raeburn Place.

The public does not have confidence or trust in this development, the majority does not want it to proceed and if it does they are distinctly leery that it might finish up as a white elephant or as a derelict property.

The developers have a lot of problems to overcome yet and this build is by no means certain.

They may have planning consents, but the disenchantment of the local population is real and the Accies’ status can never be seen again as I saw it in the early 1960s. There is little confidence that this is the right way forward and even less that the existing management team are the right people to progress the build.

A genuinely popular, consensual solution could be secured through transparent and constructive engagement. Save Stockbridge, the community council, the Cockburn Association and others are all ready to discuss the issues at any time.

• Bruce Thompson is chairman of Save Stockbridge