On 8 January it was standing room only as over 100 local residents and community councillors crammed into the Drummond Room at Broughton St Marys Church to discuss the amended proposals for the Royal Bank of Scotland site bordering Fettes Row and Dundas St. The overwhelming consensus was that the height of the proposed blocks, although cut down from 8 to 4 stories opposite Royal Crescent, would still cause unacceptable loss of amenity to neighbouring residents and George V Park users alike, and still exceeded the massing guidelines set by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) in their response to the initial proposals for development in the New Town Conservation area and adjacent to the Edinburgh World Heritage site. NTBCC are aware that HES and the developer’s architects have had several discussions on this and that HES will make further comments on the latest proposal.
Several argued that they were disappointed that RBS had not done enough to find an alternative use for some or all of the existing office buildings, some which may have potential to be converted into a hotel or apartments. Many also objected to the application for change of use to up to 100% residential , arguing that up to 400 new residential units would overwhelm the already stretched local schools and doctors surgeries – whereas a mixed use, retaining a requirement for a minimum of office use could create high quality jobs to support the local economy. A general concern was that demolition of the existing office buildings was sought despite the RBS only seeking change of use and outline planning permission. Fears were expressed that if demolition were granted on this basis before a detailed and properly funded scheme was brought forward residents could be left living next to a building site for years.
The NTBCC planning convener concurred with many of these points and assured the meeting that the Community Council would make a representation reflecting the mood of the meeting. The deadline for lodging comments or objections is 15 January and residents were reminded that objections would only be considered if they were founded on material considerations – such as loss of amenity or being contrary to policies in the Edinburgh Local Development Plan . The amendments can be viewed on the Edinburgh planning portal under the original application 16/05454/PPP. The NTBCC representation will be posted on this site in due course.