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Work is set to begin within weeks on the £9.3m refurbishment of one of Edinburgh’s best loved historic buildings after councillors voted towards the end of last week to appoint a contractor.

Assembly Rooms exterior after refurbishment

The Assembly Rooms in George Street will undergo a comprehensive revamp of its main events spaces, including the Ballroom and Music Hall.

Construction work is scheduled to take approximately 18 months to enable the Assembly Rooms to play a proud role in the Cultural Olympiad in summer 2012.

Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture and Leisure Convenor, said: “Today marks the start of an exciting new chapter for our beloved Assembly Rooms. We are at last in a position to grant this wonderful historic building the refurbishment it so desperately needs in order to retain its position as the beating heart of George Street. While we were more than willing to listen to the concerns of the campaigners, ultimately their alternative proposals were not viable and I am very relieved that reason and common sense have prevailed.

“The Assembly Rooms belong to the people of Edinburgh and the building has enjoyed an illustrious history spanning nearly 250 years, during which time it has become one of the best-loved events venues in the city. After its refurbishment, we can all look forward to spending many, many more happy occasions there – from concerts, conferences and ceilidhs to festival shows, craft fairs and gala evenings, the Assembly Rooms will be THE place to be 52 weeks a year!”

This decision was taken in spite of the campaign to “Save the Assembly Rooms” backed by many of the actors who have appeared at the venue during the three week Fringe Festival, which we told you about here.