AHSS raises concerns regarding a prominent glass roof pod at Abercromby Place

AHSS raises concerns regarding a prominent glass roof pod at Abercromby Place

Following reports from local members, the AHSS wrote to Edinburgh Council’s Chief Planning Officer to raise concerns regarding an ongoing development to an A-listed property at Abercromby Place, which includes a new glazed roof extension and terrace (16/02439/FUL & 16/02440/LBC)

15-16 Abercromby Place were originally built as townhouses within a palace-fronted terrace, designed by Robert Reid and William Sibbald, circa 1806-19. In 1966, it was reconstructed as one office building in a modern style behind a retained façade. The proposals by Warwick Stewart Architects, County Antrim, submitted in May 2016 sought a change of use and associated internal and external alterations to create 11 flats, including a rear façade replacement and glazed roof pod.

Both the Planning and the Design and Access Statements confirm the ‘discreet location’ of roof level alterations: that the “lightweight (glass) pod would add to the layers of character and interest within the block… the position of the glass pod and terrace on the rear part of the roof… ensures the front, listed, elevation remains intact and unspoilt”, and “It is set back on the roof and is not visible from street level”, and the balustrade for the roof terrace, “…is to be frameless glazing and set back from the edges of the building in a position which cannot be viewed from street level…”.

Previously reported possible breaches of planning control for alleged non-compliance regarding the dimensions of the glass roof pod, both dating from August 2021, were investigated by the Council who visited the site and found that “the measurements taken show that the depth (6.4m) and height (2.73m) of the pod and its positioning on the roof are in accordance with the approved drawings (6.75m in from front of building, 3.0m from rear). However, the width of the pod is 4.6m wide as opposed to being 6.65m wide on the approved drawing. This means that the pod is positioned further away from the parapet wall between 14 and 15 Abercromby Place”.

A letter sent to David Givan by the AHSS, challenged the ‘limited impact’ of the roof extension, as it is now clear that the roof structure is visible and damaging to the roofscape and streetscape of Abercromby Place, notably when viewed from the corner junction with Dundas Street, and asked “what action the Planning Department took in relation to the roof terrace and pod ‘to ensure any impacts are indeed kept to a minimum’?”

A reply, sent on behalf of David Givan stated, “I would accept that it would appear that the case officer may not have understood the full impact that this addition may have when viewed from different vantage points. In addition, HES raised no objection to the proposals, making specific reference to the proposed glazed access pod and stating that given the extent of past interventions to this building, HES considered it unlikely that this proposal would have a significant visual impact on Abercromby Place. This response, coupled with the lack of objections to the proposals, will have been material considerations in the determination of the application.”

“The Planning Authority is acutely aware of the need to protect Edinburgh’s unique heritage assets and staff are trained in such matters as part of our continual professional development and we will be using this example to re-iterate the sensitivities of the New Town roofscape and the need for full visual impact assessments in determining these cases.”

Read our letter here