by Jasmin Seidl
Planners urged councillors to reject the plans to transform the Royal High School into a luxury hotel, fearing it would damage the city’s World Heritage status.
The A-Listed Calton Hill site would see ‘Inca-style’ terraces on either side as part of the £75 million bid, expected before the planning committee next week.
‘The development would cause permanent and irreversible damage’, according to planning officials.
‘The adverse impacts on the character and setting of listed buildings, the New Town Conservation Area, the designed landscape of Calton Hill and the OUV of the World Heritage site would not be mitigated by the sophisticated design of the proposed extensions.
‘Put simply, too much building is being proposed for this highly sensitive site,’ planning officials added in a report addressed to the councillors.
Conservation bodies say the reconstruction would harm the character of the historic structure.
Alternatively the High School building might be the new home for St Mary’s Music School. The Music School project is also expected to be submitted to the council this week.
Edinburgh Napier News tried to get in contact with the city planners to have further comments, but no reply was given.
Gordon Blackwood, 54, financial adviser, said: ‘Well, just because some experts said it would damage the landscape doesn’t mean they have to make something completely different. The hotel has been here in Edinburgh for a long time.’
Kate Davis, 29, hairdresser, said: ‘I would prefer a music school, because I don’t think we need a luxury hotel here. I think we should not destroy the landscape, because our children have to live in the world we are destroying right now.’
Andy Stewart, 32, IT-specialist, said: ‘I’d say the hotel should stay a hotel, it is a historical building and it would be sad to damage that.’
The neoclassical Royal High School was designed by Thomas Hamilton in 1826 and is one of the most valuable buildings of its style.
After the former boys’ school moved to Barnton, the edifice has been neglected for almost 50 years.