New Wall to protect the community from the Accies’ Development

Your Support is needed now

A planning application to rebuild the wall in front of the Accies’ development has been made.  Rebuilding the wall would significantly reduce the adverse impacts of the shops, restaurants, function rooms and spectators on the surrounding area.  This would be brilliant.  Please write or email the council to say you support the application, using one or more of the points below.  We need to support this initiative and counter the 130 people who have already objected. 

The closing date for comments is Friday 6th December

We recommended you use one or more of these reasons BUT USING YOUR OWN WORDS:

  • The proposal accords with Council’s LDP Policy Env 6 Conservation Areas.
  • Rebuilding the wall would reinstate a key feature of the Conservation Area.
  • Rebuilding the wall  would enhance the sense of place around the new building.
  • Rebuilding the wall  would screen the new plaza/precinct from the noise and fumes of traffic.
  • Rebuilding the wall would provide a safe enclosed environment, especially for children.
  • Rebuilding the wall would improve road safety by ensuring that when crowds of up to 5000 are leaving the ground they only have access to the main road at defined places where marshalls can control them.
  • Rebuilding the wall  would reduce the adverse impacts of commercial activity on the amenity of the residential area opposite.
  • If the wall were re-built there would be a perfectly adequate pedestrian access 13metres wide at the western end.
  • The applicants have said that they will take the necessary steps to protect the trees and a condition could anyway be imposed.

Comment on-line at:

Write to: Head of Planning, Waverley Court, 4 East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BG

Quoting: Ref: 19/04744/FUL   South Boundary wall of the former Grange & Academicals Trust playing field

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September 2019 Chairman’s Update

We have been very quiet on the website of late but in fact an awful lot has been going on. 

The headline news is that there is a new planning application on the ECC planning portal regarding the Accies shopping development.

The reference number is 19/03680/FUL and is listed under the address 11 Portgower Place. It relates to “proposed installation of external wind screens to shelter external seating arrangements to the restaurant”. The application also includes the installation of a parasol and an external awning.


A copy of Save Stockbridge advisor Nick Evan’s response is provided below which details a number of points of concern relating to this new application. If you share our concerns then please take a moment to submit your own comments opposing the proposed installation.

You can access the council’s planning portal here:

In other news, we have had a very positive meeting with Andy Wightman MSP. This lasted over 90 minutes and most of the issues concerning the development in Raeburn Place were covered. Andy gave us some good advice. The various leases at Raeburn Place do not appear to have been registered—this is now well overdue and if confirmed that this is the case, he will contact OSCR (Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator) who could remove the Charitable status from them. A Freedom of Information Request has been submitted by Andy so that we can assess the current situation.

We have also been delving into the licensing side of things and it may be that there are some infringements here.

In addition, we have been liaising closely with Douglas Lowe, director of Leafrealm, the company which owns the six foot strip running along Comely Bank Road in front of the shops currently being built. The ownership of this strip has recently been argued in court and we are awaiting the decision of the judge, which hopefully will be before too long. This story was recently covered in this Evening News article:


Save Stockbridge supports Mr Lowe’s actions to the full.

I will be in touch again soon but please oppose this application as soon as possible.

Bruce Thompson,
Chair Save Stockbridge

Save Stockbridge Concerns regarding application 19/03680/FUL

  • We are not aware that planning permission has been specifically granted to use the newly created area of public realm for tables and chairs as part of a licensed restaurant. The Committee report in 2013 referred to “spill out space for the users of the commercial units” but the current application goes far beyond that.
  • The current application does not include the tables and chairs, or use of the public realm as a licensed restaurant. Even though a licence has been granted, planning permission is also required.
  • The area enclosed by the screens is proposed as a licensed premises. Surely the application should be advertised on site?
  • The use of the land in front of these Units for external drinking and dining was not addressed in the noise study which accompanied the original application nor the conditions attached to the planning permission. Noise impact on the amenity of the surrounding residential area has to be considered.
  • These screens would create areas of private space and are contrary to the LDP which says: “Public Realm – The parts of the city (whether publicly or privately owned) that are available for everyone to see and use without charge 24 hours a day, including streets, squares and parks.” CEC Local Development Plan 2016
  • Comely Bank Road is quiet for most of the day and especially after dark. Approving these screens and awnings would bring hours of misery to residents. The area is likely to be especially noisy all day on Sundays when tourists will be attracted into this residential area after visiting the Sunday market in Stockbridge.
  • The creation of a new area of public realm was given as a significant reason for approving the original planning application in the Report to the Committee in 2013. (See pages 19 and 20 of the Report in 2013). You should now defend it.
  • The question is whether it is in the long term public interest to grant permission for some 60 people to socialise outside while they eat and drink and make whatever noise they wish in this residential area.
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Accies News Release – A reaction from Save Stockbridge

By Bruce Thompson, Chair Save Stockbridge

In 2014 plans were submitted and passed for the development of a huge retail, sports and entertainment complex at the Accies rugby ground on Comely Bank Road,  Edinburgh. The developers then claimed that funding was in place and that there was so much interest in leasing the shops that it was a case of selecting the best applicants out of all those seeking space. Over five years later there is still availability and the developer, Raeburn Place Foundation, is still begging for funding which has now been acquired, in part, from the Bank of Scotland.  Are the lenders aware of the potential problems of a ransom strip on the site?  Do they know of the pending case in the Court of Session over ownership of the wall and six- foot strip and do they know of the huge amount of opposition to this scheme in a conservation and residential area?

Over 3000 local people signed a petition against this build. It is abundantly clear that the vast majority are still strongly opposed to it. The whole concept is unnecessarily grandiose and inappropriate to this attractive area, recently voted by the Sunday Times as one of the most desirable places to live within the UK. The enormity of the whole project—as high as three double decker buses, with facilities for over 5000 people including restaurants, a museum, shops, meeting/function rooms spectator stands  etc. is totally out of scale in a residential area like Stockbridge.    David Newlands, a well-respected businessman, and Chairman of the Raeburn Place Foundation says this is a momentous day for him and his fellow trustees. The development, he says, will transform Raeburn Place into a sports hub and community resource.

This statement might be true if the whole project was to proceed, but last year a decision was made to complete the build in two phases, the first, which appears to be in progress, is the commercial one, including shops, meeting rooms etc.  No sign of any sporting facilities as promised to the planners at the original application stage in 2014. This is left in limbo and could happen in the future, providing  always that funds are available. There is no certainty of this and in view of the difficulties incurred over the last few years in raising funds, it would seem highly unlikely that Mr Newlands vision of a sports hub will ever materialise.

This phase of the development would seem to be premature, but of course the Foundation are keen to show strength. They need to convince Marks and Spencer Food (the principle lessee) that the build is imminent. They need to dispose of their portacabins and create proper and modern changing facilities for both themselves and visiting teams. They have applied to the City planners to make “non- material changes” to the original plans, but these are extensive and would appear to be “material”, in which case a whole new set of plans would have to be submitted and the usual formalities gone through. The Planners will make a decision later this month. The Ransom Strip puts the developer in a dangerous situation, but one he seems to be ignoring. Having no access from Comely Bank Road for either pedestrians or vehicles will certainly prejudice the design.

The Foundation have failed to keep the Community Council updated or to advise them of progress or otherwise and have completely ignored local people who have suffered considerable anguish and concern for many years.

This might be a momentous day for the few in favour of this huge structure, but it is a very sad one for those nearby who are going to have to live with their memories of what it used to be like, cope with construction traffic and thereafter excessive noise both day and night.

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Application for ‘Non Material Variations’ added to Edinburgh Council Planning Portal

An application for ‘Non Material Variations’ to the original plans for the Raeburn Place Stadium Development has added to Edinburgh Council Planning Portal (ref 12/03567/FUL). It was submitted on December 20th and can be viewed here:

The closing date for comments of 10th January 2019 (next Thursday). It is important that opponents of this scheme take the opportunity NOW to object to these latest proposals.

We strongly believe that scale and scope of these changes is such that they should not be afforded the status of ‘non material’. Our position is that these are material changes that affect the initial planning decision and hence if the Accies wish to proceed on this basis, fresh planning permission should be sought.

Below is a summary of the proposed variations and the arguments as to why they should considered as ‘material’. Please ensure that any objections focus on legitimate justifications for why these proposals should be denied ‘non-material’ status as outlined below otherwise they may not be counted as valid objections. You can use our notes below as a basis for your response but please try to use your own words where possible. Please do this immediately – the closing date for applications is this coming Thursday (10th January).

We have heard from some people that the portal has been closed to comments. If you are unable to submit your comments via the portal, you should email the case officer directly with your comments before the closing date:


Proposed Non-Material Variations

  1. Stand access and egress strategy reconfigured. Security gate added to North Entrance.
  2. Running track relocated to the North of the site.
  3. Revised stand and seating layout:
  • Seats on upper terrace relocated to lower terrace;
  • External escape stairs added;
  • Wheelchair spaces relocated
  1. Revisions to internal layout at Ground Floor Level including:
  • Amalgamation of retail units 4-5. One set of external doors omitted.
  • Amalgamation of retail units 6-8. Two sets of external doors omitted.
  • Tunnel to West end of stand omitted.
  • Stone wall to east of main entrance relocated. Steel access gate added between the two walls;
  • Cinema/AV room replaced with rugby museum. Portgower Place entrance relocated;
  • Increased plant areas under the stand;
  1. Revisions to internal layout at First Floor Level including:
  • Slight relocation of the main kitchen;
  • Reconfiguration of plant area;
  • Admin offices relocated from Ground floor level to First Floor Level;
  • Relocation of café and associated finishing kitchen;
  • Slight relocation of the finishing kitchen in the East Wing;
  • Relocation of staircore to the North End of the building; Improvement to the circulation flow within the building.
  1. Minor adjustments to elevations. For more details refer to drawings (PL)050- (PL)055 – The amended internal layouts;
  2. Changes to area schedule: While the building Footprint and the Total Gross Area have slightly increased, as explained below, the retail spaces and hospitality spaces have been reduced.
  • Building footprint: increased by 126sqm; Due to the relocation of seats from the upper terrace to lower terrace.
  • Total Gross area: increased by 334 sqm; Increased use of the space under the stand.
  • Retail Space: reduced by 120 sqm:
  • Hospitality spaces including function suites, Bar/ Lounges, Corporate Boxes and Café: reduced by 127 sqm;
  • Overall kitchen area: reduced by 2sqm Resulting from:
  • Finishing kitchens: increased by 40 sqm;
  • Main kitchen: reduced by 42 sqm.

This long list of variations to the approved scheme are thought to be linked to the partial building of the project, as announced by the Accies/ Raeburn Place foundation in the Spring of 2018.  By building the Commercial elements of the project along Comely Bank Road as a “Phase 1” with no absolute commitment to build the rest as a phase 2, the developers are reneging on the tacit agreement made with the people of Edinburgh and the Planning Committee that this is a sport led development with associated commercial elements.

By starting the civil engineering elements of the project in advance of the decision on whether the extensive changes are material, they may be trying to force the hand of the Council into accepting a fait accompli.  The Council should not accept the work to date as in any way material to its decision.

This proposal remains a matter of public concern and highly controversial.  If officers intend to approve the changes as ‘non-material’ a report should be put to the Committee for their decision.  Another “Murrayfield mistake” would not be in the interests of proper planning procedures.

Grounds of Objection

The variations have to be considered in terms of the cumulative change to the terms of the planning permission originally granted.  Taken cumulatively, the variations amount to a material change to the approved scheme.  Furthermore, several specific elements are material in themselves, including:

 Total Gross area increase of 334 sq metres (3595 sq feet)

This is an intensification of development.

Building Footprint Increase of 126 sq metres  (1356 sq feet)

This increases the area of playing fields lost due to the development, contrary to LP policy OS1.

Amalgamation of Retail Units 6, 7 and 8 omitting 2 sets of external doors

The Planning Committee were told in the Report that that the “rhythm of smaller units” in  Raeburn Place “would be continued with the proposals” and be” Echoed in the design”. The proposed revision does not do that.

Amalgamation of Retail Units 4-5 omitting external doors

The Planning Committee were told in the Report that that the “rhythm of smaller units” in  Raeburn Place “would be continued with the proposals” and be “Echoed in the design”. The proposed revision does not do that.

The gable wall to the East of the Main Entrance which will be exposed upon the completion of the so called “phase 1” is not addressed in the variations but will be a major issue affecting the setting of the listed Raeburn House Hotel.

Deleting the Cinema/AV room – Relocation of cafe

In the planning application the cinema was part of or linked to the museum and hence part of the historical argument for the development on the site of the first rugby international.




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Current Work Taking Place at Accies Ground

Thank you to everyone who has been in touch to make sure we knew about the site preparation work that has recently commenced at the Accies ground. This is just a quick note to assure you that we are aware and that the entire project remains under our close scrutiny. We will provide a full update when there is something concrete to report but in the meantime, as far as we are aware the issues surrounding revised planning permission and/or the ransom strip, as reported in our previous update, are still unresolved at time of writing.

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Update Meeting – Full Report

Many thanks to everyone who came to our recent update meeting. For those who were unable to attend, here is our report on what was discussed on the night by Nick Evans, Save Stockbridge Vice Chair.

6 ½ Years On and Still No Answers About “What’s Going On At The Accies’ Rugby Ground?”

Local residents packed the Save Stockbridge public meeting on Tuesday 2nd October in the LifeCare Centre.  They were reminded of the main points in the sorry history of the Rugby Ground over the last six and a half years and the commitments given to the Council and Community during that time.

Key among them was that it the new buildings and stand would be completed in 2014, the capital funding of 8 million pounds was virtually guaranteed and that it was essential for the survival of the rugby and cricket clubs that a scheme was started without delay. Over and above all that, the Accies presented their project as being firstly about sporting facilities  with supporting or associated commercial elements, and it was all to be built as a single project without phasing.

The 4 license applications for a total 6,343 drinkers was a further cause of community upset.  Despite being advertised over the Easter holidays, a record number of objections were received leading to a shambolic meeting of the Licensing Board in April 2015. After a 3 month delay for a site visit by the Board, attended by only 2 councillors, the board met again in the summer holidays and granted all 4 licenses.

The oft repeated justification in the Council Planning Report for allowing the negative effects of the project, that an “area of Public Realm” would be created, turned out to be spurious. Two large sections of the area had been licensed for outside drinking, one  on condition it was fenced off. It turned out that they were private land! No planning conditions were attached to ensure public access.

The meeting then turned to 3 current issues:

  1. Implementation of Planning and Legal Conditions. Some of the planning conditions and items specified in the legal agreement tied to the planning permission were not now being delivered as expected.  For example, bus stop improvements and “real time” information displays had been abandoned and the money sent back to the Accies. The requirement for a detailed scheme of Arboricultural (tree) supervision to be formally approved in writing by the Head of Planning and Building Standards before work starts has not been carried through.
  1. The “Ransom Strip”.  The wrangle over ownership and control of the land along the Comely Bank Road frontage, the so called “ransom strip” was continuing, with the new owner having recently painted a red line right along the pavement to demarcate his property and put up a fence to protect it.  The fence had since been taken down, the Council having challenged it because of potential damage to the tree roots.  It is believed that the new owner also owns the stones from the original wall which “collapsed” in 2014.  A consequence of the ransom strip was that the new low walls along Comely Bank Road had been realigned to bring them onto the land owned by the Academical Club.
  1. The Accies new and very confidential proposal to construct a “Phase 1” building were also explained. In answer to a question it emerged that new architectural plans actually existed. The City Council’s planners were examining them to decide whether a new planning application was needed.  There was speculation that negotiations may be underway with a view to avoiding a new application.
  1. A key issue was which of the sporting facilities originally promised for the part of the building on Portgower Place (6 team changing rooms, 2 referee changing rooms, all-ability changing room, Fitness suite (i.e. gym), Physiotherapy/1st aid room, Ground keepers store, Players dining area, Audio visual cinema, Ticket office, 9 function rooms &VIP area, Museum and shop) would ditched and which squeezed into Phase 1. Plus whether the planning permission for relaying/realigning the pitch would be implemented, the floodlights renewed, all of the stand built and the sprint track laid.

A project which was presented to the public and authorities as “the development of a new sports pavilion, clubhouse and associated facilities with supporting commercial, business and retail uses” now seemed to be turned on its head.

Residents endorsed the general feeling that the views of the community had been repeatedly dismissed by the authorities in favour of the Accies, despite the accuracy of the facts, the strength of the arguments and the repeated failure to deliver as stated.

It was also good to hear of the Community Council ‘s consistent support for community concerns which was ably presented by Pam Barnes, Planning Officer, Stockbridge & Inverleith Community Council.

Residents very much appreciated that two of our Ward Councillors, Cllr Gavin Barrie and Cllr Hal Osler had come along to the meeting.   Cllr Osler explained that as she is a member of the City of Edinburgh Council Planning Committee, she would only be allowed to comment on the Accies’ new proposals if and when they were presented to the Planning Committee.  Cllr Barrie pledged to look into community concerns about the Accies’ proposals Residents welcomed both Councillors’ commitment to finding out what was happening.

And finally, the Save Stockbridge Committee would like to thank everyone for coming along. They are also very grateful for the very generous donations made at the end of the meeting.

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Tonight’s meeting – Change of Time

Please note that tonight’s meeting will now begin at 8.30PM and not 8.00PM as previously advertised as we have learned we will need to allow some additional time for the previous users of the room to clear up and depart.

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Public Meeting – 2nd October

What's Going On 2

We have not had a public meeting for quite a while, but we have been through an extended period of “wait and see” meaning that there was very little to discuss and not worth bringing people out on a beautiful summers evening on a cold winters night. Now its all happening again and we want to pass on the exciting updates to our loyal supporters, so please join us on October 2nd at 8.00PM at LifeCare Centre on Cheyne Street,  Stockbridge and listen to whats going on, hear the latest news and perhaps join in the question and answer session. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Chairman’s Update – July 2018

At the AGM of the Edinburgh Academical Club, owners of the land and would–be landlords to the Raeburn Place Foundation, held on Monday June 18th, the club voted, despite having to borrow millions of pounds, to proceed with their build in Raeburn Place. The vote was 94 to 4 in favour of proceeding. The atmosphere was charged and apparently dominated by what looked like rugby players’ It is significant that, including their proxy voters, only 136 of their members bothered to respond. There was however a condition attached—that no work commences until all necessary funding was in place. A difficult task in view of all the obstacles that the developers now face.

Save Stockbridge have challenged on the planning front, they are reviewing the situation re charitable status and the many changes in the developers plans. They have approached The Rector of the school over his involvement in all this, pointing out how this whole matter could be jeopardising the reputation of a very fine school. Responses are awaited. but we are confident that there are serious questions that will have to be answered by the developer, and any of these, if not satisfying the appropriate administrative body could bring the whole project to an abrupt halt. The ransom strip is a very real problem for the developer; it is something he has decided to ignore all along, but a £1m+ bill could soon land on his doorstep. Under new ownership the wall and solum will play an extremely important part in this development.

The splitting of the project into two phases differs completely from the original concept at which time we were assured that the whole build would be completed in one stage, but they also told us then that they had sufficient funds for the entire development (phases one and two). Now we are getting a retail development, a loan of several million pounds and no new sporting facilities upon which the whole project was sold to the planners and to OSCR (Charity Regulator). Save Stockbridge has to ask if those few people who have given money to the project realise that it has gone to a retail development and not a sporting one?

The Edinburgh Academical Club cannot conclude the leasing arrangements until the Foundation is in funds. Despite the show of hands at their AGM, it will not be easy to raise £8.5m (including purchase of the ransom strip) but less anything donated over the last few weeks without the assistance of banks or commercial lenders. There must be uncertainty over securing a loan on retail premises and the ransom strip could be a major deterrent to any would-be lender. Huge annual repayments of capital and interest can only affect the charitable status and substantially reduce the amount of money available for charitable causes each year.

We have just been advised that a revised application has been submitted to the council and it is currently being decided whether the changes in that application would amount to a material change, thereby requiring full planning permission to be sought again. Since there is nothing yet on the planning portal, Save Stockbridge are currently trying to get more information on this and we will report back in due course’

There were a considerable number of conditions applied to the original planning consent and Save Stockbridge are awaiting answers from the Council on specific issues. They are eager to see the written agreement over treatment of the trees along Comely Bank Road, the landscape management plan and the program of archaeological work based on a survey. As we understand it, private agreements have been made on these issues in an attempt to negate a need for formal reports and potentially expensive actions. We ask whether the planning committee are aware of this and do they approve?

The developers have a lot of work to do. The whole project has always been controversial with no one on the development team seeming to realise the challenges they are about to face. The latest one, borrowing such a vast amount of money was not part of any original concept. For years they tried to “hoodwink” the public. Especially the locals, of whom over 3000 signed a petition against. Only recently the Foundation stated that they intended starting work on phase one by the end of June 2018 so Save Stockbridge are waiting to see what happens this time (the sixth commencement date in as many years). They are already well overdue.


Bruce Thompson
Chair, Save Stockbridge.

Posted in News

New Plans Fail to Attract Meaningful Support at Accies AGM

Vast Majority of Accies Abstain

The new plans for the rugby ground project failed to attract meaningful support at the Accies AGM on Monday night.  Despite proxy voting by email, only 98 members of the Edinburgh Academical Club (former pupils and staff) are understood to have voted.  A very small number of supporters, thought to be mainly rugby players, were therefore able to win the vote 94 to 4. It looks like they won the vote but lost the argument!

This means there is a very low level of positive support for the £18m project but its supporters seem determined to carry on.  Whether they can raise the money to start building is another question.  There are also questions about whether they need a new planning permission and how the new plans are viewed by OSCR.


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