By Daniel Hunter

Work on The Haymarket, one of Edinburgh's biggest commercial development projects in the last 10 years, is to start immediately following an agreement to commence enabling works and the completion of a number of key pre-lets.

Interserve and Tiger Developments entered into a joint venture agreement in April 2013 to develop the four-acre site next to Edinburgh's Haymarket station.

Agreement has now been reached with Network Rail to start preparatory works as early as December on the railway tunnels beneath the site. This will take approximately 12 months with disruption to rail users kept to a minimum as the works will take place at night when rail services have ended.

The tunnelling work signals the start of one of the city's most important development projects of recent times, resulting in a £200 million mixed-use development delivering a mix of high quality office, hotel and retail space with the potential to create 3,500 jobs.

The Haymarket has full planning consent for 404,000 sq ft of office accommodation and 60,000 sq ft of commercial and leisure space, together with a 165-bedroom hotel and a 320-space underground car park. Tenants already signed up for the initial development phase include Q Park, Tesco and serviced apartments provider Staycity. Food chains Prezzo and Pret A Manger are already committed to the second phase, together with advanced discussions with other occupiers for a further 70,000 sq ft of retail and office space.

Welcoming the next stage in the Haymarket development, Interserve's Development Director David Westwater said: "This agreement with Network Rail to start work on the site represents a significant milestone for one of Edinburgh's last remaining gap sites. We are looking forward to completing the underground works during 2014, allowing for above-ground construction to start in early 2015.

"We are starting what we believe to be one of the best city centre development schemes to be found anywhere in the UK right now."

Archaeological excavations on the site will commence above ground in February 2014 which will involve the permanent closure of the NCP car-park currently occupying the site. On-site construction is set to start in spring next year, with the first buildings' phase earmarked for completion in 2016.

The construction project alone will be worth £150 million and will be delivered by Interserve's local construction team, based in Livingston, employing around 250 staff employed either directly by the company or by specialist and local sub-contractors.

Simon Fox, Development Director with Tiger, said: "The proposals for a mix of leisure, retail and office space linked by open public spaces will act as a catalyst to regenerate the commercial heart of the area as well as create jobs.

"So far we have received significant commercial interest in the site from a wide range of UK operators, on top of the existing tenants already signed up."

John Nesbitt, Managing Director of Tiger Developments, added: "We have been involved with this exciting project since we acquired the site in 2006. We are now looking forward to bringing it to fruition working closely with our new development partners Interserve to finally give the Haymarket area the high quality of mixed-use development which it so richly deserves, providing a critical balance to the overall development of Edinburgh's city centre."

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