Historic Scotland are right to object to plans to turn Edinburgh’s magnificent old Royal High School into a luxury hotel. New Town and Broughton Community Council, which represents local residents, is unanimous in its condemnation of the proposal which seeks to replace some later buildings with huge accommodation wings on either flank of Thomas Hamilton’s 1829 building. Despite their stepped-back design, if built, their sheer size will dominate the site and mar the stunning set piece of Greek revival architecture nestling in the contours of Calton Hill, itself topped by the unfinished National Monument.
Edinburgh can, and should, do better.
Waiting in the wings is a credible proposal to relocate St Mary’s Music School to the site, backed by the Dunard Trust, and renovate the Thomas Hamilton building as a teaching and performance space, more befitting for a former school building, but to which the public will be able to enjoy regular access for concerts. Crucially, if any of the later buildings are replaced, it is promised that the replacement will be of similar scale.
Given this, no-one need hold back from objecting to the hotel scheme in the belief that it offers the only solution to preserving Thomas Hamilton’s masterpiece for posterity.
Although the final date for making comments on this proposal was 2 October, Edinburgh Council have extended the deadline due to the difficulties in submitting comments on their online Planning Portal – mainly due to the sheer volume of web traffic resulting in the response time of portal being affected and becoming very slow especially at certain times of day.
The new dates are as follows:
Listed Building Consent Application - 15/03990/LBC: Tuesday 6 October 2015
Planning Application - 15/03989/FUL: Tuesday 13 October 2015
(The reason the dates are different is because one week extra is allowed for the planning application because it is accompanied by an Environmental Statement.)
Edinburgh Council would prefer to receive comments online as they can be processed electronically and it saves considerably on officer time. This is particularly important with developments that attract a high degree of public interest and it ensures that no comments are missed. Edinburgh Council recommends that people type up their comments in a word processor then copy and paste them into the form on the portal. If the system is running slowly, Edinburgh Council asks people to be patient and not to keep clicking as the system will respond eventually.
You can also send emails/letters in the normal way provided they are received by the published dates, but these do take longer to process.