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Renewed bid to transform building

Developer lodges appeal for Royal High hotel plan

Royal High School hotel 3Developers behind a plan to turn the former Royal High School in Edinburgh into a a five-star hotel have lodged an appeal against a council decision to reject the scheme.

Councillors threw out the £75 million project in December in response to opposition from residents and heritage groups.

Duddingston House Properties, which has lined up the global giant Rosewood to operate the hotel, want to transform the derelict A-listed neoclassical building overlooking the city from Calton Hill.

The council rejected the plan – by just one vote – on grounds of its design which was seen to be be out of keeping with the School and the location. There was particular concern about two wings would be added to the building.

It was designed by Hoskins, the architecture firm whose managing director Gareth Hoskins died tragically in January.

Mr Hoskins told councillors at the meeting: “We pride ourselves on our understanding of place. I would like to think our buildings leave a legacy.”

Supporters say the city’s prestige would be enhanced, particularly among wealthy Asian tourists who would be more attracted by the presence of a hotel rated among the world’s finest.

Radha Arora, president of Rosewood Hotels, flew in from Hong Kong to attend the meeting and present the company’s case. He told councillors that the Royal High “has the qualities we look for to create a successful and thriving destination”.

Mr Arora said the hotel would generate economic benefit and bring 260 full-time jobs to the city.

“Should this proposal be successful we have entered into an agreement to run it for 30 years. We are demonstrating our faith in this location and this city,” he said.

Noting the company’s presence in other historic venues he added: “We are well aware of the importance of this special building and we are trusted to work in world heritage sites.”

But the plan received considerable opposition. Ward councillor Karen Doran (Lab) appealed to the council to “stand up for the people of Edinburgh”.

She said the public were “distressed” and added “I am horrified by this proposal. The people of Edinburgh do not want it.”

Duddingston has submitted papers to the Scottish Government’s planning and environmental appeals division ahead of the deadline.

A rival bid has been proposed to turn the building into a music school, while there was also a call to use it as a second chamber for the Scottish parliament.



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