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Richard Murphy's Edinburgh hotel blocked


Scottish ministers have rejected plans to build a luxury hotel designed by Richard Murphy Architects as part of a £250m project in Edinburgh

The 17-storey building had been approved by councillors but the Scottish Government said the site would affect views of the city’s world-famous castle.

The hotel was planned as the centrepiece of a £250 million overhaul of a four-acre site next to Haymarket railway station in Edinburgh that has been derelict for 40 years. The scheme had faced repeated criticism from Architecture and Design Scotland during its troubled history.

A report said: ‘In urban design terms, the landmark five-star hotel would fail to respect the grain and scale of the surrounding townscape, dominating the Haymarket space to the detriment of its neighbours.’

It added: ‘The impact on the city skyline would not preserve the setting of the world heritage site or prominent listed buildings which are landmark features within it.’

In June this year - apparently in response to Murphy’s plans and another £300 million Old Town scheme - Unesco called for the creation of a ‘buffer zone’ to introduce strict controls over developments just outside the city’s world heritage site.

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce said the decision to reject the Tiger Developments proposal was an ‘enormous setback’.

Graham Birse, from the Chamber of Commerce said: ‘By reaching this conclusion ministers have done nothing to encourage sustainable development in our capital city at a time when the longest recession in living memory is making deep and painful inroads into our economy.

‘This project was ready to roll, and offered £250m investment, 2,150 jobs and a five-star hotel.’


Should the scheme have been rejected?

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Readers' comments (21)

  • Oh dear - the Chamber of Horrors and Birse again.

    How increasingly irrelevant they are.

    For more read


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  • Sad really that it should come to this, a combination of the developer paying too much for the site and the consequent over development and the wrong choice of architect, operating outwith his comfort zone.

    The building was a horror admittedly but the response from the heritage police and UNESCO apologists purile.

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  • That would be the 'purile' (sic) 'heritage police' (what a ridiculous phrase) and UNESCO which managed to have this called in and defeated at public inquiry? That sounds good enough to me.

    The Cockburn Association is to be commended for its actions in leading the charge, funded by public donations, against this unwelcome, overlarge and unsuitable development.

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  • Comment one was posted by Save Our Old Town.
    www.eh8.org.uk, the campaign against the appalling Caltongate development (criticized by UNESCO and anyone with any sense as being bad for the Old Town).

    The phrase 'empty and pretty useless' seems to apply to the contents of the heads of certain Edinburgh architects; although devoid of talent, they are big in the mouth and ego department. Caltongate has bitten the dust, Haymarket Tower, Missoni a carbuncle, where will it end? So many seem to have problems with erections.

    Presumably the last commentator has had an early bevvy or two in some back alley doorway in the Old Town and in his cheap alcohol fuelled daze now thinks he's being witty.

    Under age drinking is a real problem these days. It rots the brain cells, and renders the victims incoherent, incomprehensible, and incontinent.


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  • "Older ruins" very good. Alastair Sim as Millicent Fritton in The Belles of St. Trinian's, that's Buttress. Both are from Edinburgh.

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  • mmmm.......I always think Margaret Rutherford "comic actress with a face like a startled bloodhound"

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  • Not so sure Buttress is from Edinburgh. Her blog's like a heritage version of the Eye of Sauron.

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  • of course, Mordor's also on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

    Not from Edinburgh? how disappointing, is she one of the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit then?

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  • How dare you. Had it not been for Buttress, SOOT and the collapse of the world economy Caltongate would have been built!

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  • True, the Buttress may be a joke but she was right about the Haymarket tower. It is a dog of a building.

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  • Well, how not very interesting. The word 'witless' still certainly applies to you. And wet.

    Quite amusing in one way though, as shows you still haven't a clue about a great deal. We know who the joke's on.

    But holding conversations with yourself now? All quite, quite the saddo.

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  • What an utterly spiteful and horribly vindictive blog.

    Martha N

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  • Another humourless architect are you? Or are you simply someone without any wider view of the situation in Edinburgh, or knowledge of those being pilloried?

    Those who have find it amusing. Very amusing.

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  • http://independentrepublicofthecanongate.blogspot.com/2009/10/keep-on-blogging-in-free-world.html

    How a blogger brought down a local council.

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  • New Edinburgh; What Could That Be?


    Last year Scott Sutherland students looked at the UNESCO World Heritage Site that doubles as the capital city of Scotland and is, according to Penny Lewis "hamstrung by its cultural heritage and under constant scrutiny from the world's self-appointed cultural guardians" [Architect's Journal, 13th August 2009].

    This year, students will carry out a detailed analysis of the development of a new town, taking the proposition that Edinburgh is "more or less complete".

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  • God, Dunlop! do you want Millicent Fritton aka Buttress to burst a blood vessel? Sounds good, I'll look forward to seeing how things develop.

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  • Yawn. The grown ups have gone elsewhere to debate this.

    Shame really that Dunlop messed that up. His students lost out. He has no idea.

    I suppose he will continue to peddle his bizarre ideas to a generation of 'impressionable' minds.

    Some of them produced far more exciting and interesting stuff than he ever could.

    Penny Lewis - well, not all agree with her. That's the Penny Lewis who penned the vanity publication about Dunlop and his pal Murray?

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  • The Penny Lewis who is a tutor alongside Alan Dunlop?

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  • looks like another interesting brief alan, edinburgh could do with some fresh thinking. good luck


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  • Looking at what Murphy had planned for Edinburgh, it's a good thing there are 'cultural guardians', although the Reporter who recommended refusal was actually appointed by the government.

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  • I think the ministers have got this one right. On a brighter note you would be glad to hear that the tourism industry in Scotland's capital has been given a major boost after it emerged the number of hotel rooms sold last month soared by ten per on the previous year. Some 68 per cent of all rooms in hotels in edinburgh were said to have been sold throughout December with a hike in bookings more than making up for hoteliers having to cut some of their rates. The average value of rooms, a key indicator for the industry, rose from £51.33 in December 2008 to £54.97, an increase of seven per cent. The figures, produced by Lynn Jones Research, also reveal that 97 per cent of rooms were filled in Edinburgh over Hogmanay, up from 96 per cent last year. This was despite the number of tickets for the city's Hogmanay street party being cut from 100,000 to 80,000. Not bad during a recession.

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