A squad of Scottish rugby stars has spoken out in favour of controversial plans to redevelop Edinburgh Accies ground at Raeburn Place. The players – including former Scotland captains Andy Irvine, David Sole, Jim Calder and Ross Ford – have written to The Scotsman to pledge their support for the £8 million redevelopment in Stockbridge, and follows the submission of a full planning application by Edinburgh Accies on Tuesday.
The letter says:
‘We are writing specifically as supporters of Scottish rugby, but more generally as ordinary people who passionately support lifelong participation in sport.
We wish to place on record our belief in the importance of preserving and improving the Edinburgh Academical Football Club (Accies) home and facilities at Raeburn Place in Stockbridge in Edinburgh. Over the years Accies has contributed more than 10 per cent of all Scottish international caps since hosting the first international match between Scotland and England in 1871.
The club is the home of and operates the Edinburgh BATS rugby club, which delivers to and supports rugby at four high schools and 16 primary schools in north Edinburgh. Last year BATS delivered 750 hours of rugby to 1,560 young people. With recent research showing that inactivity causes as many premature deaths as smoking, surely this youth work is something we should cherish rather than discard.
Through little fault of the club itself, the facilities at Raeburn Place consist of temporary units, hired at an onerous cost now met by Accies. This is simply not sustainable. The plans drawn up bring in rent from a maximum of nine shops, and will give Accies the best facilities in Scotland, run on a sustainable basis, in addition to ensuring the preservation of a valuable greenfield space.
With the inclusion of a rugby museum it will make Raeburn Place an attractive destination for families and others to visit. The retail element will enhance and complement Stockbridge’s existing offering. These are carefully drawn-up, high quality proposals. We hope that Edinburgh Accies will be encouraged to stay in their historic home, and that Scotland can begin to close the gap with England in terms of rugby facilities and funding.’
David Sole, Andy Irvine, Scott Hastings, Roger Baird, Rob Wainwright, David Callam, Cameron Glasgow, David Milne, Stuart Moffat, John Frame, Jim Calder, Marcus Di Rollo, John Allan, Greig Laidlaw, Allan Jacobsen, Nick Deluca, Geoff Cross, David Denton, Ross Ford, Tom Brown, Tim Visser, Ben Cairns, Ross Rennie
However local opinion is divided over the proposed redevelopment. Campaign group Save Stockbridge organised a packed public meeting last month and have now attracted over 2500 signatures on petitions opposing the plans. The group says that it is ‘not anti-development, rather anti this development’ which they feel is too large for the area with a disproportionately large retail element that will have a detrimental effect on existing local traders.
In a statement on their website, Save Stockbridge said: “Our initial review of the submitted plans suggests that there is little, if any, substantial deviation from the proposal originally outlined during the pre-application consultation. We currently have a team urgently working through the fine details of the application so that we can provide a fuller analysis – as soon as this is completed, we will update our website with our findings and our recommendations of what to do next.”
The planning application can be found online on the city council’s planning portal – application reference number is 12/03567/FUL and the plans are also on display at Stockbridge Library. Comments on the proposals should be received by 9 November.