Edinburgh’s Old Royal High School is a national treasure. Featuring Greek Revival architecture and a key part of Edinburgh’s skyline it’s rightly listed as being of national importance. To date over 1,000 Lothian residents have objected plans to develop it into a luxury hotel on the basis that it would irrevocably damage Edinburgh’s renowned Outstanding Universal Value and World Heritage Status. Flanked by two enormous copper and glass ‘accommodation wings’ the proposed luxury hotel development would impose on the current building and fundamentally damage the setting of St Andrews House and Calton Hill.
In my objection I’ve focused on the impact the proposal would have on the immediate setting and Edinburgh’s world renowned heritage status – a key reason our city is a hit with tourists and a gateway to Scotland for many.
National policy on Listed Buildings only allows significant changes to such buildings as is proposed in exceptional circumstances when all other options have been exhausted. I’m not convinced that the business case put forward by the developers justifies the damage that would be caused to one of Edinburgh’s most important views, one of our most iconic buildings and the city’s reputation.
I’ve also pointed out that a proposal from St Mary’s Music School, to renovate and retain the building in its current form, shows that there are groups keen to retain the building to preserve the building in a manner consistent with its previous use. That would serve our built and cultural success, ensuring we can support the city’s musical heritage for future generations. Significantly this proposal is funded and is a genuine proposal that I believe needs to be considered by the Council. It would be a great way to ensure the reuse of this much loved building.
My objection has now been submitted to the City of Edinburgh Council and I’m pleased to hear that deadlines have been extended after the volume of site traffic pushed the ‘planning portal’ offline. If you want to make comment or look at the proposals head to the Council’s Planning Portal and use reference number 15/03989/FUL.