Edinburgh World of Football at Corn Exchange 'not financially viable'

By Joseph Anderson

Developers planning a new mixed housing site at the Corn Exchange that would see the demolition of the World of Football have said the popular venue requires too much work to remain viable.

According to the London-based developers Watkin Jones, the condition of the football facilities, housed in the former auction mart buildings, requires constant upkeep and investment.

The firm has now applied to Edinburgh City Council for permission to demolish the site behind the Corn Exchange to make way for a development of new rental properties, affordable housing and student accommodation.

The site, just off New Market Road, is currently home to World of Football and World of Bowling, and both buildings will be torn down to make way for the new development.

A statement from Watkin Jones reads: “The World of Football and World of Bowling have provided a suitable use and adaptation of the former auction mart buildings and livestock sheds for over 22 years, however their condition currently requires considerable investment on an ongoing basis.

“To bring the buildings up to standard is a continual test, burden and cost for the business. Investment in recent state of the art facilities such as World of Football at Marine Drive show that they can provide far more viable spaces without the ongoing cost and environmental impact that old out of date buildings unfortunately provide.”

The planned development will see build-to-rent homes, including affordable homes, created on the site, as well as managed student accommodation.

If planning permission is approved, the aim is to complete work by 2025.

World of Football could be demolished as part of new plans for student housing (Google Streetview)

The statement continues: “This forms part of an overall regeneration of the brownfield site following the recent acquisition of the Corn Exchange building concert venue by the Academy Music Group, to be called the O2 Academy Edinburgh.

“Completing the work in 2025, should planning permission be given, the regeneration of this brownfield site - formerly comprising a mix of listed and unlisted buildings originally used as an auction mart and livestock sheds - will seek to retain the character and elements of the buildings.

“This will ensure their long-term viable future, all of which is considered in the creation of community spaces and public realm within the proposed scheme.

The apartments will be a mix of studios, one bedroom, two bedroom and three-bedroom flats, with the buildings having exercise facilities, a communal lounge, management suite and reception, bike storage and a large shared kitchen. The student bed spaces are proposed as a mix of studio and cluster rooms each with their own ensuite.

The development is proposed as a car-free scheme with parking limited to accessible parking only.

Iain Smith, planning director at Watkin Jones, said: “We’re thrilled to be announcing our exciting scheme for this new urban quarter at Chesser, creating a thriving and diverse community as part of an overall redevelopment of the area.

“The site is in a highly sustainable location with excellent access to amenities and transport links and will be built to future-proofed high environmental standards.

“Maintaining the strong heritage of the site is a feature of the development and our intention is to retain the character of the buildings where we can, ensuring their long-term viable future, with the creation of some fantastic public squares, each with their own distinct identity.

“These proposals will greatly assist in the regeneration of this part of the city and we are consulting extensively to ensure that people from across the local area have an opportunity to input their views and shape our ambitious proposals.”

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