Edinburgh bus station threatened with closure

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Edinburgh’s centrally-located bus station was threatened with closure by its owners, but a reprieve looks likely following an agreement to discuss extending the site’s lease or selling it to Edinburgh City Council. The station reopened in 2003 as part of a modern shopping complex after extensive rebuilding work. RICHARD WALTER

Operators serving Edinburgh’s bus station were told recently that the site could be closed and sold by its owners, meaning that services would need to relocate to another, as yet unspecified, site. Owned by Coal Pension Properties, which manages investments for former coal workers’ pension schemes, and leased by the city council, it was reported that its owners were looking to sell the Elder Street site for housing development when the local authority’s tenancy expires in 2027. The city council initially said that it feared the facility could be lost. The Council’s transport convener Councillor Scott Arthur the authority was considering its options, and that he was disappointed that such a modern and well used piece of Edinburgh’s substitutable transport infrastructure may be lost.

As an interim measure, it was reported that the distant Ingliston park & ride site could be used as a temporary measure if the station were to close, though its location is highly inconvenient.

The 18-stance St Andrew Square bus station first opened in 1957, and was closed in 2000 as part of a £50m redevelopment project. It became operational again, four months after its planned reopening, in February 2003.

A spokesperson for the Edinburgh Bus Users Group told the BBC: “Buses go from Edinburgh bus station almost all over Scotland and further afield, so it’s very worrying to hear it is under threat. It’s not the grandest of its type, but what’s important is whether it does the job, which it does, much better than some. A bus station isn’t like an airport. Anyone seriously thinking of redeveloping the bus station needs to answer the question of just how the city, including this site, is to function if they’ve squeezed public transport out of every key space.”

However, days later it was reported that Coal Properties had reconsidered its position and was willing to consider renewing the lease or selling the site to the local authority. Councillor Arthur said: “They say they are open to either the council perhaps extending the lease or even buying the site from them. The bus station is a key part of Edinburgh’s sustainable transport infrastructure and I’m disappointed a pension fund would consider putting its future at risk. I’m pleased they are open to negotiations around the council either buying or leasing the site.

“I’ve discussed it with council officers and they will bring a report to committee after the summer, which will look at the future of the bus station, including leasing, purchase or alternative locations within central Edinburgh.”