Meeting with the National Galleries of Scotland regarding East Princes Street Gardens

As a result of the discussions both at our monthly meetings but also with several residents’ groups, NTBCC contacted the National Galleries of Scotland to propose  a meeting with them to gain a better understanding of the proposals regarding their approved planning application for an extension to the current galleries. We were grateful that the request for a meeting was accepted.

NTBCC met the Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS), Sir John Leighton, on 21 January to consider the controversy over the removal of trees from East Princes Street Gardens.

The discussion covered the refurbishment of the National Gallery of Scotland, the removal of the 52 trees, and their planned replacement with 22 saplings (extra standard heavy, or ESH, size).

NTBCC raised the subject of tree planting to be done outside the gardens, as compensation for the loss of greenery, and the criteria of ‘ecosystem services’ benefit under which that could be calculated.
Sir John explained that the details of the 52-tree removal were agreed with the council and formed part of the planning permission for the project : talks were ongoing with the council in association with others about how many, and where, additional trees could be planted in addition to the 22 trees that will be replaced in East Princes Street gardens as stipulated by the council.

There was further discussion about the commercial use of East Princes Street Gardens, and in particular the City of Edinburgh Council-owned ‘precinct’ around the National Gallery of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Academy, which posed a considerable management problem for NGS.
Sir John offered to come to a future NTBCC meeting to provide more information and to answer questions.  We will take up  this offer at the appropriate time in 2019.  

NTBCC was represented by Richard Price, Allan Jack and Simon Holledge accompanied by Andy Heald (NTBCC resident and tree specialist), and Bill Cowan of the Old Town Community Council (OTCC) as Princes Street Gardens sit on the boundary between the two community councils, technically just within the OTCC area.