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Fraser's design threat to Murray's Princes Gallery

New designs by Malcolm Fraser Architects for Edinburgh's historic Princes Street could usurp a competition-winning scheme by Allan Murray Architects for the same site.

Fraser's alternative - to refurbish the entire street and expand the number of retail outlets - could threaten Murray's smaller 160,000m 2 scheme for the galleries and streetscape at the eastern end. The practice won the gallery competition amid much fanfare last December (AJ 19.12.02) Fraser's new 500,000m 2 project, to be unveiled today (Thursday) by local civic society The Cockburn Association and Edinburgh City Centre Management, is designed to make residents and traders 'aware that there are other options for Princes Street'.

The Cockburn Association's director Martin Tulse said the scheme would allow local people to see 'the other real possibilities for the site'.

'The Murray galleries project has been marketed as the only real choice and we are trying to prove this is not the case, ' he said.

And Malcolm Fraser Architects is understood to see the proposals as a chance to let the market decide which of the two projects should go ahead.

Edinburgh City Council's principal planning officer, Andrew Sykes, agreed the new scheme was in conflict with Murray's proposals. 'Fraser was an objector to the original idea of redeveloping the galleries, ' Sykes said. 'And he has clearly worked up some new schemes to prove he was right to object.'

However, Malcolm Fraser insisted it was possible for the two designs 'to be made to work together'. And Allan Murray Architects' Mark Cousins agreed, saying the two schemes are 'not mutually exclusive'.

'We have not been approached to look at the Fraser scheme, but I think we need to work together to make them compatible, ' Cousins added.

Allan Murray Architects saw off competition for the Princes Gallery scheme from, among others, Rick Mather Architects, Jeremy Dixon.

Edward Jones, Gareth Hoskins Architects, Page & Park Architects and Erick van Egeraat Associated Architects (AJ 19.12.02).

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