Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Director's Notes - January 2016

Monthly update from EWH Director Adam Wilkinson.

Jan 28, 2016

It’s been a busy start to the New Year, with volunteers busy at New Calton graveyard, the launch of a Burns app for your iphone, and some rather splendid videos produced as a result of the partnership built up around our food heritage trail. We’re also delighted to welcome Nick Hotham to the office as our new Head of Advocacy and Outreach, bringing together our fundraising and communications work into a small, but perfectly formed, team.

The run up to Christmas was not lacking in excitement either, with the City of Edinburgh’s Development Sub-Committee meeting to decide on the application to convert Thomas Hamilton’s Royal High School into a luxury hotel.

Since 2008, EWH has offered consistent advice on how development might affect the different ways this paragon of the Greek Revival contributes to the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage Site.  We were therefore deeply disappointed that what came forward not only disregarded our advice (which was consistent with that of the City of Edinburgh’s planning department and that of Historic Environment Scotland), but did precisely the opposite, by proposing a five storey building right in the most sensitive part of the site – at the point where the city appears to open out into the countryside as you head from Princes Street east.

The discussion at the committee was fascinating, with heartfelt cases made for and against. Ultimately, the committee voted to reject the proposals with the view that they transgressed a very broad range of local and national policies. You can watch all 7 hours of the meeting here. Our concern is that the development team will now come forward with a watered down scheme that still has a strongly negative impact on outstanding universal value.

On the cheery side, however, the Royal High School Preservation Trust and St Mary’s Music School have come up with a stunning set of proposals to reuse Hamilton’s Royal High School as…. a school. All of this is backed by an amazingly generous offer from the Dunard Fund. We will be giving our vigorous support to these proposals.

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