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Planners recommend refusal

Ribbon hotel ‘would ruin Edinburgh’s skyline’

Ribbon hotel St JamesCity planners have recommended rejection of a controversial “ribbon” hotel at the heart of Edinburgh’s £850 million St James Centre redevelopment.

The unusual design by London-based architects Jestico and Whiles has divided opinion between those who see it as bold and imaginative and critics who believe it will ruin the city’s world heritage skyline.

It is proposed as a centrepiece of the reshaped shopping centre and is said to have already attracted interest from hotel operators.

Designs for the 210-room, 12-storey project were submitted in April after Jestico + Whiles were appointed by TH Real Estate to create a “landmark” building among the shops, restaurants and flats that will be erected on the site.

The hotel is wrapped in copper cladding and would include a rooftop bar with panoramic views.

Ribbon hotel 2But planning officials say the hotel will be wider and 20 metres taller than initially proposed, and will block key views of the city.

Doubts have also been raised about the coloured, stainless steel coating, which it is feared could be “too shiny and reflective”.

Councillors last month approved the use of limestone rather than traditional sandstone for the new shopping centre and the use of copper-coloured cladding on a circular building would represent a far bigger leap in introducing new architectural styles.

Martin Perry of TH Real Estate expressed disappointment at the comments.

“We believe the elegant design fully responds to the original council brief to enhance the city’s skyline and create something never seen in Edinburgh before – unparalleled 360-degree views of the city,” he said.

Marion Williams, director of conservation group the 
Cockburn Association, which objected to the use of sandstone in the main buildings, said: “I’m delighted the officers agree with our view, but it will be interesting to see if the councillors agree with their officers – which they failed to do when it came to the sandstone issue.”

Councillors meet on Wednesday 12 August to consider the application.

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