Public inquiry underway into Royal High School planning appeal

Duddingston House Properties’ revised hotel plans for the historic site

A six-week public inquiry which will determine the future of Edinburgh’s Royal High School is to begin today.

The decision over the historic building at Calton Hill, which has been left empty for 50 years, will be made by Scottish Government reporters.

Developers want to transform the site into a luxury hotel but their applications have been refused.

Duddingston House Properties and Urbanist Hotels are appealing against the City of Edinburgh Council’s decision in August 2017 to refuse planning permission and listed building consent for revised proposals to bring a Rosewood hotel to the site.

A rival vision by Richard Murphy Architects and Simpson & Brown to turn the property into a music school has been approved but cannot proceed until an agreement between the council and Urbanist Group expires.

Campaigners for St Mary’s Music School this week launched a new campaign to make the building their home.

Plans for the St Mary’s Music School

Dr Kenneth Taylor, headteacher of St Mary’s Music School, said: “The aim of the Note campaign is to send a simple message using a simple, polite but witty visual reminder, that the future of the Old Royal High School is still undecided and that it’s particularly important that the Scottish Government is aware of the strength of feeling about the future of the Old Royal High.”

David Orr, co-founder of Urbanist Hotels, said: “We are confident that the appeals process will allow many of the complex technical issues raised with both previous planning applications to be considered thoroughly.”

Scott Ferrie and Dannie Onn have been appointed as the two reporters by the Scottish Government for the inquiry, which will begin at Heart of Midlothian’s Tynecastle Park stadium.

The inquiry is set to cost at least £6,000 a day, with more than 350 documents to sift through and 25 witnesses expected to be called.

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