Royal High School Success!

Royal High School Success!

Unanimous rejection of hotel proposal by City Councillors

The City of Edinburgh Council, Development Management Sub-Committee, met on the 31st August 2017 to review and decide on the second hotel application put forward by Duddingston House Properties (DHP), for the former Royal High School in Edinburgh.

The proceedings began at 10am with the report from the Council Planning Officers, who gave a full review as to how the proposals contravene a great number of planning policies. This was followed by excellent presentations from the Alison Johnstone MSP, Historic Environment Scotland, the local Community Council and Residents Association, the Cockburn Association, Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, the AHSS and the three Ward Councillors. All of whom continued a persistent theme focusing on the unique importance of this building and its setting, and the inappropriateness of the height and scale of the design, ‘too much, for too little site’. In the afternoon, the Developers presented their case for granting permission, with a focus on the benefit to tourism that the hotel would bring. The day came to a swift end with Councillors unanimously damning the hotel proposal, describing it as ‘abhorrent and ugly’ and that the city would not forgive them if they allowed it to go ahead.

A good summary of all discussions can be read here.

Or you can access and watch the live recording here. 

Here is a timings guide to some key presentations:
0:16:55 Carla Parkes summarises proposal and report findings.
1:37:52 Steven Robb, HES
1:48:55 Adam Wilkinson, EWHT
1:57:00 Cliff Hague, The Cockburn Association
2:03:40 Alastair Disley, AHSS
3:30:45 David Orr, DHP and Rosewood Hotels
5:06:35 The debate and decision by Councillors

The AHSS were delighted to hear how often the general public were referred to throughout the day, the 3200 objections that had been made to the planning department, the numerous emails and letters that had been received by politicians and Councillors, all were taken note of and considered important. Councillors on the committee were exemplary and explored all elements of the economic benefit and heritage arguments before reaching their decision.

At the moment, it seems unlikely that the Royal High School is entirely safe from inappropriate development. The first hotel proposal is still at the Inquiry stage with Scottish Government Reporters and is sisted (paused) until 8th September. This may be withdrawn, or may continue. Our hope is that DHP and Rosewood hotels will realise that their hotel scheme is too large for this site and unless a significant number of bedrooms are dropped (perhaps 50% or more), no design will be appropriate for this iconic A listed building.
In the meantime, St Mary’s Music School waits in the wings with full (unanimous) planning permission.