EDINBURGH bosses are being urged to step in to prevent “one of the world’s great arts venues” from being turned into student flats or a boutique hotel.

The famous Summerhall centre in Newington will be sold off by Isle of Man-based owners Oesselmann Estate Limited, it was announced earlier this week.

But their suggestion the building could be used for student flats or a boutique hotel has sparked concerns among Edinburgh residents and Scotland’s cultural sector more widely.

On its website, Summerhall boasts of being home to “award winning theatre, avant-garde art, [and] the best live music in the country”.

Writing in The Guardian in 2014, film director Mark Cousins hailed it as one of the best art venues in the world.

Now Tommy Sheppard, the MP for Edinburgh East, has written to the council asking them to intervene to ensure the building remains a cultural hotspot.

The National: Edinburgh council leader Cammy Day

In a letter to Labour council leader Cammy Day (above), Sheppard said there was a “very complicated patchwork of legal arrangements in place for the operation of the buildings” involving more than 100 separate leases, some of which still have “many years to run”.

He said: “It provides some comfort that the building is being sold with these leases in place as it will prevent the wholesale redevelopment of the site, but it doesn’t guarantee Summerhall’s future as a centre of the arts in Edinburgh in years to come.”

Day was urged to take a “proactive approach” and convene a group of senior officials with experience in planning as well as cultural and economic development expertise.

READ MORE: Future of iconic cultural venue in question as owners announce sale

Sheppard (below)said this group should use the council’s “existing powers to prevent the sale and development of parts of the site which are incompatible with its overall purpose”.

The National: Tommy Sheppard

Doing this would “dull the attractiveness of the site to speculators and those who may be eyeing it with the intention of making huge future returns on the site at the expense of its current ethos”, he added.

In a statement the SNP MP added: “It’s crucially important that any sale has at its heart the ecosystem that Summerhall supports and the huge contribution it makes to the cultural landscape of Edinburgh.

He went on: "If your officials determine any constraints to them fulfilling this task and have suggestions of legislation that could be amended in order to reach this goal, I’d be grateful if you could let me know what these are in some detail and I’d be happy to raise this will the Scottish Government alongside council representations."

Summerhall Management, the firm that operates the venue, welcomed Sheppard’s support.

Chief executive Sam Gough said: “This proactive approach from [Edinburgh City Council] would be the best way of safeguarding Summerhall as a cultural and community resource.”

Council leader Day said: "I was disappointed to see the news that Summerhall is set to be sold and I understand the concern for the future of this well-loved cultural institution. 

“We’re monitoring the situation closely and will continue to do so alongside our partners. I’m encouraged to see that this matter will also be raised by the Member for Edinburgh East with the Scottish Government.

“We remain in dialogue with the operators and have an emergency meeting in place to discuss these new developments. We’re committed to preserving and enhancing the capital’s wider cultural sector going forward and the Summerhall site forms an important part of this.”

Selling agents Cuthbert White were approached for comment.