NTBCC seized the opportunity to visit the former Old Royal High School site and buildings earlier this year to gauge the condition of the main building interior and inspect the latest proposals for the development of the site into a prestigious hotel.
NTBCC is clearly supportive of a new use being found for the building, given the evidence witnessed on its fast-deteriorating condition. We also accept that to accommodate any new use in the listed building, change and alteration will be required. The key issue that has been raised by many bodies is whether the building and the site can accommodate the changes and the quantum of development required for a prestige hotel without detrimental impact on the building, its setting and the wider conservation area, and the ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ of the World Heritage Site.
What do we think ?
Although the premise behind the development is for conversion to hotel use, NTBCC’s clear preference would be that a more aesthetic, educational and intellectual use could be found, befitting the Old Royal High School’s history and culture, rather than develop the buildings for hotel use. In addition, these alternate uses could provide full, unfettered public access to this forgotten area of the Edinburgh World Heritage site. But we are fully aware that to date, there are no concrete proposals in place for such a conversion and we also fully understand that significant public funding would probably be required to achieve which would present a significant challenge.
But, notwithstanding that this is only scheme presented, NTBCC is deeply concerned that the proposal for the site to accommodate a prestige hotel, of the scale which was presented at the Public Exhibitions in February and March, will have a detrimental impact on the special architectural and historic interest in the listed building from the combined and cumulative impacts of both the alterations to the listed building and the new development.
NTBCC believes that the size of new development which the site can accommodate without detrimental impact on the building, its setting and the wider conservation area is significantly less that the proposed development.
NTBCC has offered to have further discussions with the developers and we await future plans with interest.
NTBCCC’s full representation can be seen here.