Royal High School – planning application for luxury hotel submitted

Following on from the public exhibitions, a planning application to convert Edinburgh’s Royal High School into a luxury hotel has now been submitted. The period for making comments ends on 2 October.

A meeting about this application will be held jointly by the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland and the Cockburn Association on Thursday, 24 September at 6 pm at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church in George Street.

RHS meeting flyer
NTBCC had many reservations on the initial plans as outlined at the public consultation which were communicated with the developers. Although there have been some welcome changes in the formal planning application following the public consultation, NTBCC still has significant concerns about the proposal and does not believe that the site can accommodate a hotel of the size that is being proposed without severely impacting the setting of the Royal High School and the wider environs of Calton Hill. NTBCC will again make a representation opposing the development. The applications (reference 15/03990/LBC and 15/03989/FUL) can be viewed on Edinburgh Council’s online planning portal.

Unusually, there is a viable alternative proposed use for the site and the main buildings – unconnected with the developers (Duddingston House Properties and the Urbanist Hotel group) – which NTBCC believes is a more sympathetic and appropriate development to safeguard this ‘building at risk’. The alternative is for the building to become the new home for St Mary’s Music School; this is at a pre-consultation stage but cannot proceed further until the hotel application is determined.

From the initial plans, this alternative would not involve such significant additions which NTBCC believe would diminish and overshadow the existing Royal High School both aesthetically and physically. NTBCC are clearly supportive of a new use for the building, given its fast-deteriorating condition and it is accepted that to accommodate any new use in the listed building, change and alteration will be required. However, NTBCC has a strong preference for using the buildings for more aesthetic, educational and intellectual use, befitting the Old Royal High School’s history and culture, rather than develop the buildings for hotel use which would entail large hotel wings both to the east and west of the main building.

For details, please see

NTBCC encourages everyone to look at the two options and judge for themselves, but is firmly convinced that the proposed hotel is a poor use of the RHS site while rehousing the Music School would be a much better option. If you do not believe that the current hotel application is the best use for this publically-owned building, we would encourage you to make an objection either online through the Edinburgh Planning portal or directly by email/letter to the Planning Officer. If you are unsure of how to do this, please contact NTBCC via the contact form.

For the objection to be taken into account, planning laws require each application to be considered on its own merits, so it is not relevant for an objection to the hotel proposal to solely state the objector would prefer that the building should be reused as a school.