A MAJOR consultation will get under way within weeks after the new owners of the Sick Kids hospital site took their first step towards redeveloping it into housing.
The 122-year-old building near the Meadows was acquired in September by the Downing Group with an estimated offer of around £20 million.
A Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) has now been lodged with the city council, with the firm saying it expects to submit a full planning application in spring.
Ian Harrison, development and acquisition manager at Downing Group, said meetings had now begun with interested parties to discuss their plans and receive feedback.
He said a quarter of housing at the site would be affordable, with student accommodation also planned.
He added: “We recognise the responsibility we have in making sure that this development is right for the site and for the area, and we look forward to engaging with as many people as possible to help us progress our plans.”
News of the acquisition followed an unsuccessful bid from the Marchmont and Sciennes Development Trust (MSDT) to purchase the site under new urban community right-to-buy laws.
However, at a recent public meeting the group said it had received support for them to explore the possibility of any community ownership opportunities left on the site in conjunction with Downing.
A spokesman said: “Despite the disappointment of not having our community right to buy application considered before the Sick Kids was sold, our public meeting showed there is still appetite for local residents to be in control of at least part of the site.
“We’ve engaged constructively with the developer and we are waiting to hear back from them to see if they are interested in pursuing the ideas put forward by the community.”
Edinburgh consultants Holder Planning will oversee the consultation, while plans will be drawn up by Fletcher Joseph Architects.
Paul Harkin, director at Fletcher Joseph, said: “The Sick Kids hospital has an iconic status in the city and now that its original function has come to an end, the challenge will be to redevelop it in a manner which is sensitive to the important legacy that it leaves behind.
“There is a fantastic opportunity here to recreate the site in a manner that reflects its important history, whilst providing new homes.”
The first of the public exhibitions is scheduled for November 28 in St Catherine’s Argyle Church on Marchmont Road.
It will run from 2.30pm until 7.30pm. Two further exhibitions will develop the detail of the proposals further and are scheduled to take place on January 10 and February 7 2018.