John McLellan: Exchange plans are taking shape

The Edinburgh International Conference Centre wants more top-class hotel capacity on its doorstep
The Edinburgh International Conference Centre wants more top-class hotel capacity on its doorstep
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While a question mark hangs over the future of the Haymarket redevelopment, plans have taken shape further up Morrison Street for the completion of the Exchange business district.

The scheme aims to transform the ScottishPower site on Dewar Place into an education hub to train students in event management and hospitality, with a world-class conference centre at its heart.

Since the successful expansion of the EICC with the Atrium and Lennox Suite, EICC management have identified the need for more top-class hotel capacity on the doorstep, in addition to the Sheraton, to capture more of the lucrative international business tourism market.

The availability of motivated and well-trained staff is also an issue if the business is to grow.

So alongside a new hotel, the plan is for Napier University to create an international school of event and hospitality management and Queen Margaret University to establish a catering academy with the support of the food and drink industries.

The plan has been assembled by Duddingston House Properties (DHP), which is still embroiled with the council over the Royal High School hotel debacle.

On the site of an electricity sub-station next to a dual carriageway built on a railway goods yard, the site couldn’t be more different from Calton Hill.

DHP says that £150m of investment has already been secured and work can start in the spring if planning consent is given. With Haymarket stalling, maybe this is the shot in the arm the district needs.