Royal High School hotel plans rejected by Edinburgh councillors

NTBCC very much welcomed the Planning officer’s report to recommend refusal and welcomes the Edinburgh Council Committee decision to refuse the planning application (albeit narrowly) to develop  the old Royal High School into a hotel. A copy of the decision notice turning the application down can be found here (PDF). NTBCC was surprised that 7 councillors still felt minded to support the application despite the strong recommendation for refusal and the widespread community objection to these proposals.

In turning the application down, the Council decision stated ‘The benefits to the City’s economy and to tourism through bringing an at risk building back into a sustainable long term use are not outweighed by the very significant harm to built heritage and landscape of the city. In coming to this conclusion, regard has been had to the exceptional architectural and historic interest of the Royal High School and the quality of its surrounding environment. The development would cause permanent and irreversible damage. The adverse impacts on the character and setting of listed buildings, the New Town Conservation Area, the designed landscape of Calton Hill and the OUV of the World Heritage site would not be mitigated by the sophisticated design of the proposed extensions.  Put simply, too much building is being proposed for this highly sensitive site.’

Duddingston Properties is considering its position but NTBCC understands that it is likely it will appeal the decision. In the  meantime, NTBCC welcomes the lodging  of a planning application (15/05662/FUL) to develop the building  as the new home of the St Marys Music  School. From what NTBCCs has seen from the presentation from the St Mary’s  Music School developers in November, the interventions and new building proposed are sympathetic and highly sensitive to the Hamilton building and its setting, but NTBCC are examining the plans carefully before we finalise our thoughts on the application in early January.