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Allan Murray hits controversy underneath Edinburgh arches

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A controversial £3.5 million proposal by Allan Murray Architects for the redevelopment of Edinburgh's landmark Jeffrey Street arches was last week submitted to the city's planning department for approval.

The proposal has been three years in preparation but its potential to block views of the Waverley Valley from Edinburgh's old town has concerned local residents and authorities. The council is expected to report on the submission next month.

The architect's plan is to convert the empty street arches into offices and speciality shops and construct a mixed-use building on an adjacent block fronting Cranston Street. The glazing of the arch ends is proposed in the architect's submission.

The work has been performed on behalf of Edinburgh City Council's independent development subsidiary, Edinburgh Development and Investment Group. The group's development surveyor, John Diciacca, said the plans had been drawn up in consultation with heritage groups, and completes a masterplan for the area first promoted more than a century ago under the 1867 City Improvement Act.

The aim is to enliven East Market Street and attract more pedestrians along Jeffrey Street. It would form part of the Parliament Way project, which is intended to beautify the approach to the new Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood.

'Everyone who has seen the plans has said that the scheme should be [approved] because it sits so well into this niche site, 'Diciacca said. 'What we are hoping is that the quality of the scheme shows throughout the planning arguments.'

Allan Murray architect Mark Cousins said: 'The proposal seeks to redress the visually weak termination of Jeffrey Street in an appropriate and contemporary way with a quality landmark building, ' Cousins explained. 'The overall aim of the project is to provide a high-quality environment for local residents, workers and visitors. It will create new links between the Old Town, Waverley Valley and other key city developments.'

The project is intended to be complete by the end of 2002.

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