Response to EICC Hotel
This is the letter Gavin Corbett sent to the Edinburgh Evening News, following the full Council meeting which was described as “a fiasco”.
Last Tuesday I chaired the Fountainbridge Sounding Board. As has been the case over the last five years, there was constructive, forward-looking discussion from those around the table: community representatives, councillors, council officers and developers in the area. They all come with a different perspective of course, but all have a shared goal of making development on the Fountainbridge brewery sites the very best it can be. The result has been a masterplan which has won plaudits widely and a dialogue with commercial developers that is at stark odds with the trench warfare which often attends major planning applications elsewhere in the city.This is why I was so surprised, two days later, to find Conservative councillors, in a full council meeting, excitably describing the Fountainbridge development as a “fiasco”. It is not a description I or any of the community representatives recognise so I can only assume it is “end of term” adrenalin or it is a phrase designed to catch news headlines (job done). In fact, since 2011 there has been negligible Conservative engagement with the developments at Fountainbridge, with the honourable exception, in recent months, of my ward colleague Andrew Johnston, who has commented favourably on the positive tone of dialogue. So perhaps it is not surprising that the Conservatives should claim that they did not have enough information to make a decision. Mind you, the claim rings a little hollow when made by Cllr McLellan, given that he has had apparently had enough information to make Fountainbridge the main focus of his weekly column in the Evening News on two occasions.
The truth as usual is more humdrum. There is a decent masterplan which is already in place. There are plans to build 450 new homes. There is a shared appetite to offer workplaces to post start-up businesses and social enterprises. There is ambition to develop an innovative district heating network and to stitch green spaces into the new neighbourhood. Eleventh hour attempts to throw a 400-bed hotel into the mix have nothing to do with what the area needs or wants.
So the only fiasco here is Conservative grandstanding when actually what Fountainbridge needs is councillors who get their sleeves rolled up and are committed to making things happen.