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Third time lucky? Hoskins scales down plans for landmark Edinburgh site

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Hoskins Architects has scaled back controversial plans for a new hotel at the historically sensitive Royal High School site on Calton Hill, Edinburgh

The practice’s latest proposals have been lowered in height from the previous plans, which were thrown out by Edinburgh City councillors in late 2015 (see AJ 17.12.15) and will be 15 per cent smaller in floor area. The number of hotel rooms has also been reduced by 20 to 127. 

Submitted for planning earlier this week, the designs are effectively the firm’s third attempt at winning the go-ahead for the redevelopment of Thomas Hamilton’s unused 1829 masterpiece.

A fundamental rethink in summer 2015 featuring two ‘organic’ wings splaying away from the Neoclassical former school building followed the scrapping of a contentious 160-room colonnaded addition that the practice had originally proposed (see AJ 06.02.15).

Hoskins Architects' re-revised proposals for the Royal High School site on Calton Hill in Edinburgh - submitted for planning in January 2017 [Waterloo Place view]

Hoskins Architects’ re-revised proposals for the Royal High School site on Calton Hill in Edinburgh - submitted for planning in January 2017 [Waterloo Place view]

Hoskins Architects’ re-revised proposals for the Royal High School site on Calton Hill in Edinburgh - submitted for planning in January 2017 [Waterloo Place view]

Both concepts were criticised by heritage groups and the city’s planners claimed the scheme rejected in December 2015 would have caused ‘permanent and irreversible damage’ to the city’s skyline. 

According to the project’s backers, Duddingston House Properties and Urbanist, the newly revised concept ‘takes full cognizance of all concerns regarding the social, cultural, heritage and  landscape impact of the development’.

The practice landed the £70 million job to transform the Category A-listed Classical building back in early 2010.

However, Hoskins Architects is not the only practice to have eyes on the Royal High School site.

Last summer Richard Murphy Architects won planning for a rival vision, which aims to transform the landmark building into a new home for St Mary’s Music School (pictured below).

Billed as a ‘viable alternative’ to Hoskins Architects’ plans, Murphy’s scheme is backed by the Royal High School Preservation Trust. However, the existing contract between the city council and Duddingston means construction could not start on the approved music hall plans until the existing agreement with Duddingston has been renegotiated or terminated.

Richard Murphy Old Royal High School Edinburgh

Richard Murphy Old Royal High School Edinburgh

 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • David Nossiter

    Ian Ritchie's Concert Platform in Crystal Palace park could do with some TLC.
    http://www.ianritchiearchitects.co.uk/projects/concert_stand/

    It is looking very neglected and has not been used by anthing larger than herons for the last five years. There is demand as this year sees the expansion of the Overground Festival into the park. It is such a neglected asset.

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  • 'Third time lucky'? - here's hoping not, but the city fathers' dismal move in approving Jestico and Whiles' gross, naff and thoroughly repulsive piece of bling - the 'golden turd' (sorry, 'walnut whip') hotel down in the New Town, against the advice of their planners, doesn't bode well for the future of Calton Hill.
    Private Eye today - 'Nooks and Corners' - has it right, and such an eloquent symbol of the Scottish Enlightenment risks becoming a symbol of modern Scottish philistinism.

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