Moves to build a £50 million 400-bedroom hotel on one of Edinburgh’s key brownfield sites have collapsed amid claims of a “fiasco”.
The city council has instead agreed to provide more affordable homes as part of the India Quay site at Fountainbridge, located next to the new Boroughmuir High School.
Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors opposed the plans, believing not enough information had been provided to make a decision.
No formal plans for a hotel had been lodged by the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) for the site and councillors agreed to discuss the proposals in public at Thursday’s full council meeting after listening to fears by community groups.
The council will now instead move ahead with plans to provide a “modern workspace” for tech firms and smaller businesses as well as housing.
Convener of the housing and economy committee, Cllr Kate Campbell, said: “The community wants affordable housing, they do not want a 400-bed hotel. We need to have positive conversations with the community. We are a local authority, not a business.
“It does not have to be a hotel and it certainly does not have to be a hotel on this site. It’s about what’s best for Edinburgh, the site and the community.”
The committee’s deputy convener, Cllr Lesley Cameron, backed the proposals, but highlighted support for the EICC, which is owned by the council.
She said: “I think there’s still a lot of unanswered questions.
“We cannot tie the hands of assets and companies that we own. I just hope that future reports will have the detailed information that we need to make decisions.”
Officers said plans to use the site for a hotel were “incompatible” with the previous direction of the council.
The Conservatives labelled the situation “a fiasco” and described the administration’s action as “secretive, financially irresponsible and indecisive”.
Conservative Cllr John McLellan said the situation had “created conditions where the administration looks like it has something to hide”.
Responding to Cllr McLellan, Cllr Campbell said: “It’s clear that a hotel would not be supported by this community. People in Edinburgh want us to support jobs and create homes.”
The housing element of the scheme will now include 112 social homes out of the 176 total homes to be built – a sharp increase from the 75 social homes that were initially proposed.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Campbell said: “It was good to hear the report in public and I’m glad that the community now have some certainty.
“We have made the decision to take forward an office-led development, and increase the number of social homes that will be built ... We’re creating jobs and building homes.”