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Controversial BDP Edinburgh centre wins go-ahead

BDP’s contentious plans for the site next to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) have been ‘unanimously’ approved, despite a stinging attack from the city’s former design champion, Terry Farrell

Yesterday (9 December), the City of Edinburgh Council gave the green light to the £85 million scheme to extend the existing 1997 building, designed by Farrell, and a neighbouring eight-storey office block, which will help fund the scheme.

Speaking for Scottish Enterprise, Linda McPherson, regional director said: ‘This project offers huge economic benefits to both the Edinburgh and Scottish economies, and we are delighted full planning consent has now been granted.’ 

However, the decision will not be welcomed by Farrell, whose own scheme for the plot was abandoned in 2007 for financial reasons.

Back in September, Farrell fired off a strongly worded letter to the council saying the project should not go ahead in its current form ‘as it [would] severely damage the architectural integrity of the existing conference centre’.

The new development includes a 2,000m² hall will doubles the revenue earning capacity of the EICC.

Previous story (04.11.09)

Controversial BDP Edinburgh centre scheme hits new hurdle

A final decision on BDP’s contentious plans for the site next to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) has been postponed until 9 December

Edinburgh City Council said the proposals required further scrutiny, and that a fuller assessment of the building materials and design issues is needed.

Tollcross Community Council, a key stakeholder in the project, said that the proposed materials ‘contrast substantially’ with the existing building and instead need to be ‘of a similar nature to the EICC’.

The council has agreed that all materials and suppliers must be sent to its head of planning for approval, and that a fully detailed public realm scheme shall be submitted to and approved prior to the commencement of works on site.

Last month Terry Farrell, EICC architect and Edinburgh’s former design champion, fired off a strongly worded letter to the council saying the project should not go ahead in its current form ‘as it [would] severely damage the architectural integrity of the existing conference centre’.

Previous story (16 September 2009)

Terry Farrell savages BDP plans for Edinburgh centre

Terry Farrell has attacked BDP’s plans for the area next to his Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), claiming they treat his building with ‘considerable contempt’.

BDP submitted the plans (pictured top), which include an underground extension to Farrell’s building (1995) and a separate eight-storey commercial block, to the City of Edinburgh Council in June.

In a letter, sent to the council by Edinburgh’s former design champion days before he stepped down, Farrell said: ‘I strongly urge that the planning committee do not consent the scheme in its current form as it severely damages the architectural integrity of the existing conference centre.’

Following an architectural merry-go-round, BDP is now back on the scheme, having worked on proposals with EICC before Farrell took over. His scheme was abandoned in 2007 for financial reasons.

Farrell added: ‘This time around the EICC decided to carry out the development itself. They chose BDP and decided not to consult me and ignored the masterplan design guidelines.’

He said he was particularly shocked to see a building attached to the main conference centre, adding: ‘It bangs straight into the side of the centre in the most insensitive way.’

Farrell has also written to John Graham, chief executive of Historic Scotland.

BDP project director Graham McLellan said: ‘We are working our way through the planning process and it would not be appropriate for us to make comments at this stage.’

A decision on the scheme is due by the end of the month.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Sir Terry is correct, this scheme is appalling. It should be ditched now.

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  • I don't particularly like either but this sort of extension can be built anywhwere and does not integrate into the exsiting. I think Terry's orginal scheme should be left alone.

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  • it could be alot worse terry, they could have got FAT (FASHION ART RADICAL TASTE) to have attempted a piece of architecture - now that would be a disaster !

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  • So, despite the awfulness of the design, and some councillors were vociferous about that, in the end it got passed because the council paid officials commissoned a report from a consultancy firm to say what they wanted it to say, ie that the economic future benefits would be huge. Naturally, in years to come no-one responsible for the decison will be around to check if the crystal ball gazing was correct. Or take the blame. So those who didn't like the scheme had the rug pulled from under them.

    And of course no-one knows if spoiling one of the city's better new buildings will ensure that anyone will continue to want to visit.


    http://www.eicc.co.uk/projectOverview.aspx

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