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Hotel boost for Scottish cities

Three new hotels are to open in Scotland under expansion plans by the world’s biggest hotel chain.

InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) is to open two hotels in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow.

A 94-bedroom boutique hotel under the group’s Hotel Indigo chain will open next summer in the former Glasgow Corporation power plant on Waterloo Street.

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It will be run by Maurice Taylor, the hotelier and restaurateur behind the La Bonne Auberge chain.

The company promises a sympathetic development of the Victorian building, which brought electric lighting to the city and was ScottishPower’s headquarters in the 1990s.

In Edinburgh, a 59-bedroom Hotel Indigo will open next Autumn in the Georgian townhouses on York Place currently home to the Osbourne Hotel.

In a major boost to the city, the group will also develop the Shrubhill bus depot site with a 121-apartment long-stay hotel for business travellers under the Staybridge Suites chain, due to open in Autumn 2012.

The four-acre site off Leith Walk, currently marked by rubble mounds, excavations and half-demolished tram sheds, has been an eyesore since the site was sold by Lothian buses for £12 million five years ago.

Since then, hopes to redevelop the site have been blighted by a series of false starts.

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey pulled out of a proposed £70m development after its plans were turned down twice by the city council, then thrown out by a planning inquiry. The company was accused of trying to cram too many houses on to the site.

More recently, student accommodation firm Unite and Singapore-based firm Frasers Hospitality expressed interest in the plot.

Under the latest proposals, the neighbouring masonic lodge will be demolished and a new lodge built at street level.

Housing and shops are understood to also be planned.

The three hotels are part of £500m expansion plans that will bring 37 new hotels and 3000 jobs to Britain. The company said it hoped to create 50 jobs in Glasgow and 125 in Edinburgh.

IHG had previously wanted to open a 17-storey hotel next to the capital’s Haymarket station but the scheme was turned down at a public inquiry.

It was rumoured last week that the firm, which owns 4500 hotels world wide, was eyeing up the A-grade listed Donaldson’s Deaf School building, which is a short distance from the station.

A spokesman for IHG said the new hotels would “reflect the local neighbourhood”.

He added: “Hotel Indigo is InterContinental Hotels Group’s upscale boutique brand, delivering the charm of a boutique hotel with the consistency and reliability of a big hotel company.

“Each hotel is distinctly different and reflects its local neighbourhood with local murals and images and a vibrant colour palette.”

Hotel Indigo rooms in London begin at £110 a night. Staybridge Suites in Newcastle and Liverpool are £80 a night.

Adrian Welch, editor of Edinburgharchitecture.co.uk, said he welcomed the development of the derelict plot.

“It’s welcome to get sites like that shored up. It’s been a long journey.”

“Edinburgh needs developing. There’s a big demand for houses and it’s inefficient for a city to have major empty sites.”

He said he hoped the new development would be sympathetic to the surrounding architecture. “It’s a difficult site. It’s pretty large. It will have to relate to the colonies behind and the small, traditional houses, and have a stone frontage.”

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