Campaign by Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust to Challenge “India Building” Planning Approval

The £65m scheme which includes the historic cluster known as India Buildings at the bottom of Victoria Street and Cowgatehead Church, across from the Grassmarket was approved in May 2016. The consented development comprises a 200+ bed hotel with bar, restaurant, café as well as retail and commercial uses. The developer argues the scheme will bring the listed India Buildings back into use for the first time in 10 years.

Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust as well as others aim to mount a legal challenge to the granting of the application though a campaign ‘SAVE Edinburgh Central Library’ (although to be clear, the library function will remain unchanged).

NTBCC have been contacted to make people aware of a public meeting on 5th April – full details can be seen here. This will also include the launch of online fundraising to cover legal costs.

As this falls well outside of the NTBCC boundary, as is normal, we did not make representation on the proposal.

Local campaigners maintain their concerns that the plans - which do not include any housing or community spaces – are further proof of the over-development and inappropriate use of this site within the UNESCO World Heritage site.

They also argue that it will mean the loss of land that was originally bequeathed to the city as space for a possible extension of the public library; which many argue is badly needed. They claim the development, which reaches nine stories at its highest point, will lower light levels within the library by as much as 80% (though developers say it will be far less).

We would highlight that a new Public Consultation (PAN) has recently been submitted for the site by the same developer and architects and we would assume that there is potentially a significant enough revision to the consented plans to warrant a new application (17/01014/PAN). There is a Public Exhibition on Wednesday 10 May (2pm – 8pm) at the Grassmarket Community Centre for those interested.