Last month, the application to turn the Old Royal High School into a luxury hotel was refused – to the great relief of those of us who were concerned about our duty to protect and preserve our city’s beautiful and historic heritage. The proposal would have required substantial extensions and irrevocable damage to the façade of the building and damage to the iconic skyline it helps frame.
A new proposal has now been put forward, with the support of the Royal High School Preservation Trust, for St. Mary’s Music School – a specialist music school in Edinburgh since 1880 – to take it over as their new home. The proposal also includes a new public performance space. Having seen the proposed plans, I feel they are sympathetic to the building’s original design, and would not only bring in additional talent to the city, but would enhance our reputation as a culture capital, and preserve the historic legacy of the building. I believe the proposal provide a solution to the currently derelict building that preserves, rather than jeopardises, Edinburgh’s World Heritage Status and Outstanding Universal Value status.
The development proposals St Mary’s has put forward not only protect the building as it stands, and its historical setting, the alterations needed to transform it into the school and concert venue would be nearly invisible from outside the boundary of the site. It would also maintain the building in the aspect to which its architect, Thomas Hamilton, was tasked to design it in the early 19th century – as a school – but would enable it transition back into use as a cultural heart for the city. The new performance space and external landscaping will also increase public access and will strengthen the attractiveness of Edinburgh to visitors.
I support the new proposals that have been put forward as they are not only consistent with the history and historic surroundings, but they will help our city grow and improve, while protecting and preserving our beautiful Edinburgh heritage.
You can read my submission to Planning at Edinburgh Council here
And learn more about the plans here: http://www.rhspt.org/about.html