RBS unveils New Town complex plans

rbs_logoRoyal Bank of Scotland has revealed plans to build a new hotel, shopping and housing complex overlooking an Edinburgh park.

The plans for the New Town conservation area that overlooks King George V Park and Eyre Place and have been shown by Edinburgh City Council documents to have been recommended for permission in principle by city planners.

The development on the brownfield site, just south of the Unesco World Heritage Site boundary, is set to include a 100-room hotel, 70 homes, shops, eateries and underground parking.

A council report on the plans, submitted by agent GVA Grimley on behalf of RBS, with Michael Laird Architects, said they will involve the felling of a number of trees outside the park.

The council documents revealed: “It is proposed to build two blocks on the application site.

“The principal block is almost c-shaped and is proposed for the eastern part of the site extending from the northern to southern boundary. It will be built parallel to the boundary of King George V Park. The other, smaller block, will be oblong in shape and sit on the south-western corner of Eyre Terrace.

“The application also seeks approval of the siting and maximum height of the principal block.

“The proposed principal block will be four storeys, rising to five storeys at the corners. The smaller block will be a maximum of four storeys. Two buildings currently remain on the site: a large warehouse known as the Scotsman Building and a small building originally a stable or carter’s house.”

The development has been met with a lukewarm response from conservationists.

Tom Parnell, of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, said it would wait until the full designs were lodged before commenting.

He said: “In general, we support the use of brownfield sites. It’s what keeps the city vibrant.

“In terms of the impact, difficult to tell at this stage.”

Richard Price, of the New Town and Broughton Community Council said: “In principle, we do not object to the development of this area.”

But added: “Given that it the proposed development will provide a new hard edge to the park we particularly regret the bookending of the north-south block with five storey towers as this will exacerbate the unwelcome impact of bricks and mortar.

“Currently, few buildings press closely on the park, unusual for a green space in such a densely populated central area of the city, and four storeys are likely to cast more shade than experienced today.”

The council report added: “The existing trees on the application site will be removed. Most of the trees surveyed were found to be in fair condition with the canopies of the trees thin at lower level and the tree growth influenced by the need to find sunlight.”

The report stated that the trees on the application site are of “low quality with none of great value and that the greater value trees are found in King George V Park”.

It said: “The loss of the trees will change the character and appearance of the conservation area.

“However, it is necessary to consider the loss of trees within the context of the proposal as a whole.”

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