GATHERING together 24 big names in Scottish rugby to support plans for Edinburgh Academicals’ new ground in Stockbridge is a shrewd PR move.
After all, if Andy Irvine, David Sole and Finlay Calder think a new stadium and museum on Raeburn Place is a good idea, then surely we should all listen?
Well, yes and no. But don’t expect city council planners to be swayed by this. They, rightly so, will take a dispassionate look at this project and judge it on relevant criteria.
The plan has been brought forward by Scotland’s oldest rugby club which at present is using Portakabins as changing rooms.
The idea is that rent from the new retail units will provide an income stream in the short and longer term to ensure the club’s continued health. A stadium would also provide covered seating for 2500 fans.
It is understandable that adding up to nine new retail units would lead to concerns from residents. However, behind the big names, the scheme to redevelop the ground appears to be a sound one.
Accies is a club that has been part of the fabric of Stockbridge for more than 150 years. Which Accies do we want? A thriving club with modern facilities which draws larger crowds to games, benefiting local businesses? Or an Accies that continues to use temporary changing rooms and loses money every year?
The reality is that option two cannot last in the long-term. If the club cannot find a sustainable way to remain in its historic home, it will have to go elsewhere. That opens the possibility of a much larger chunk of land being sold to developers, possibly for housing. That is something that no-one in the area wants.
Easy does it
Holyrood Park is one of the Capital’s great assets and it needs careful management to ensure it is safe and welcoming.
Yet, at the same time, we cannot ignore the key role it plays as a “pressure valve” for traffic between the city centre and east Edinburgh, relieving congestion on other busy routes, especially at peak times. A balance has to be struck between these two demands – being a safe and pleasant leisure destination and an important route for through traffic.
Slowing down traffic that currently speeds through at an average of almost 40mph has to be a good thing. But what is the best way of achieving that? Cutting the speed limit to 20mph throughout the park or enforcing the existing speed limits more effectively? Without effective enforcement, the council’s plan will achieve nothing.