Jestico + Whiles has won planning for a controversial hotel within the £850 million Edinburgh St James scheme after councillors ignored the recommendation of officers to refuse it
Councillors voted seven to five to approve the hotel on a 5.2ha site at the east end of Princes Street by developer TH Real Estate.
Council officers had concluded that the 173-bed building was higher and bulkier than the dimensions approved in an outline planning application for the former St James shopping centre.
They said: ‘The proposed hotel would adversely affect the character and appearance of the New Town Conservation Area and would have a detrimental impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site…’
The ten storey egg-shaped building will be wreathed in a bundle of bronze ribbons which curl into a raised swirl at the top.
The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland voiced its disapproval of the proposals, saying: ‘A scheme that lifted the architectural aspirations of the redevelopment might well have been welcome - but this would be dependent on the impact of the proposals on the wider New Town Conservation Area and World Heritage Site.
‘Unfortunately, the scheme as now detailed would not only dominate the St James quarter but would dominate key views of the New Town from many important points in the city centre and beyond.’
Martin Perry, director of development at TH Real Estate, said: ‘We are thrilled that the City of Edinburgh Council has supported our vision for the hotel. The building will be the centrepiece of Edinburgh St James and will reinforce the city’s position as an international destination.
‘The hotel’s iconic design has already generated interest from global hotel operators and today’s decision to approve our proposals takes us one step closer to starting work on-site next year and to delivering the development.’
Heinz Richardson, director at Jestico + Whiles, added: ‘We are delighted that our proposal has been approved and grateful to the City of Edinburgh Council for its visionary support. Our team at Jestico + Whiles is confident that the design of the hotel will fulfil the client’s aspiration and make an exceptional contribution to the city of Edinburgh.’
Jestico + Whiles saw off competition from Allies and Morrison, KPF and WATG to win the hotel job back in March.
The council is expected to complete a compulsory purchase order for the whole St James site next month.
Previous story (AJ 03.03.15)
Jestico + Whiles' Edinburgh hotel wins go-ahead