Old Royal High School Appeal

by The Cockburn Association

Old Royal High School Appeal

by The Cockburn Association
on 22nd May 2018
pledged by 366 people

Edinburgh is one of the world’s great heritage cities. Its inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is well-deserved. The contrast between the mediaeval Old Town and the Georgian New Town is breath-taking to behold.  Edinburgh is also described as the “Athens of the North”, a reference to not only the Enlightenment when the city was renown as a “hotbed of genius” but also to its classical architecture.

Thomas Hamilton’s Royal High School, built between 1825-9, is one of the most important Greek Revival buildings in Europe and was one of the buildings to inspire this moniker of ‘Athens of the North’.  It is composed of a powerful symmetrical grouping of principal Doric temple-pavilion, flanking colonnades and subsidiary temples, fully exploiting a prominent elevated site.

Why we need your help

Developers are proposing to convert the building into a “6-star Art Hotel”, which will include two massive bedroom wings that will swamp the careful composition of the Category A-listed former Royal High School buildings, and seriously affect the setting of not only this building, but of Calton Hill, one of the most important landscape features in the City.

The plans for a new hotel on the site have been widely opposed in the city and by national institutions including Historic Environment Scotland.  The proposals have been refused planning and listed building consent twice.  However, the Developers behind the scheme have appealed against the decision of City of Edinburgh Council to reject the hotel plan, and the case will now be heard by Scottish government-appointed reporters later this year.

We need your support to ensure that we can present the best case possible to the appeal.  This includes instructing an Advocate to help build the case, and represent objectors at the inquiry.

An alternative plan to use the building as a new base for St. Mary’s Music School has already received planning permission.  This scheme will be thwarted if the hotel consent is not dismissed.

A Coalition of Edinburgh-based organisations are opposing the hotel plan and are committed to fighting this scheme at the upcoming appeal.  The Coalition includes Edinburgh World Heritage, a charity responsible for the conservation and promotion of the city’s World Heritage Site; The Cockburn Association, founded in 1875 to preserve and promote Edinburgh’s heritage and landscape;  and the New Town & Broughton Community Council, representing residents..  

The battle to save Edinburgh’s iconic Old Royal High School has not yet been won. The developer behind the hotel plan has refused to accept the decision of the democratically-elected members of the Council, with the result that we are forced to engage in a lengthy and expensive process as we go through the appeal.  We have instructed legal representation to help the Coalition at the appeal, which commences in September 2018 and is expected to last for over 5 weeks. 

Funds will be used to pay for this legal representation which supports the preparation of Appeal documents, precognitions of witnesses, and the critical cross-examination of the developer's professional witnesses in the formal inquiry sessions.

About the claimant

The Cockburn Association is one of the oldest heritage and conservation organisations in the UK. We campaign to protect and enhance Edinburgh, its heritage and its setting.

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