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Five star scheme thrown out

Hotel plan for former Royal High School rejected

Royal High school hotel plan

Revised plans for the school did not swing the decision

Plans to convert one of Scotland’s most treasured but empty listed buildings into a luxury hotel have been thrown out by the Scottish Government.

Following a public inquiry into the proposal from Duddingston House Properties and Urbanist Hotels, planning permission and listed building consent for the conversion of Edinburgh’s former Royal High School has ben refused.

Government reporters said the proposals for Thomas Hamilton’s masterpiece on Calton Hill would have had adverse effects on the historic environment.

The applicants had appealed against Edinburgh Council’s refusal of their plans in August 2017 to house a five-star Rosewood hotel in the building which has been disused for 50 years.

The building is part the city’s heritage (pic: Terry Murden)

Hoskins Architects scaled back the project when councillors initially decided the original plans, which included two six-storey extensions, was unacceptable and would damage the city’s heritage.

The revised project proposed 127 rooms, 20 fewer than originally envisaged.

The six-week public inquiry, led by planning reporters Scott Ferrie and Dannie Onn, began in September 2018 at Tynecastle Park stadium.

A rival plan for the former school by Richard Murphy Architects and Simpson & Brown to turn the property into a music school has been approved but cannot proceed until an agreement between the council and Urbanist Group expires, which is believed to be in 2022.

The Cockburn Association, one of the principal objectors to the hotel plan, said it was delighted with the decision.

The heritage body said: “The Old Royal High School is one of the world’s most significant examples of Greek Revival neo-classical buildings in the world, and it is the symbolic manifestation of the Edinburgh’s moniker ‘The Athens of the North’. 

“Not only would the scheme caused irreparable damage to the fabric and setting of this Category A listed building, its economic value to the city’s economy was significantly less than had been said.

“Together with our Coalition partners Edinburgh World Heritage and the New Town & Broughton Community Council, we thank the very many people who contributed to our campaign against these proposals and who donated funds towards our appeal costs. 

“We hope that the development interests behind the hotel scheme step back from their lease, which they hold until 2022, to allow the Music School proposals by the Royal High School Preservation Trust to advance.”

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