Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh's Royal High School could become music school

Old Royal High School Image copyright Kim Traynor
Image caption The Old Royal High School was vacated in 1968

Plans to turn the A-listed Old Royal High School building in Edinburgh into a music school have been approved.

Under the plans, the former school will become home to Scotland's only independent music school, St Mary's Music School.

The building at the bottom of Calton Hill was designed by Scottish architect Thomas Hamilton in 1825.

Councillors unanimously approved the plans, submitted by the Royal High School Preservation Trust.

A report by council planners said the music school would bring the building, which is on the Buildings at Risk Register, back into long-term use.

'Wonderful opportunity'

Trust chairman William Gray Muir said: "The former Royal High School is pivotal to Edinburgh's World Heritage status and our plans are designed to celebrate, conserve and enhance the site for the people of Edinburgh.

"By making it home to St Mary's Music School we also hope to reinforce musical education at the heart of the city's cultural heritage.

"We are delighted that our proposals have received unanimous approval, with the City of Edinburgh Council granting us a special, extended seven-year time-scale for planning and listed building consent."

He added: "This is a wonderful opportunity to transform a building at risk into a dynamic asset for students, residents, visitors to the city, educational and cultural organisations and the creative sector as a whole."

Performance space

Dr Kenneth Taylor, head teacher at St Mary's Music School, currently based in Edinburgh's Grosvenor Crescent, added: "A move to the Royal High School under the trust's plans would enable St Mary's Music School to have the performance space we have always aspired to.

"It will enable us to bring music lovers into the school and greatly expand our outreach activities."

Plans to turn the building into a luxury hotel were rejected in December.

The Old Royal High School was vacated in 1968 when the school moved to Barnton.

During the 1970s it was proposed as the site to house a devolved Scottish Assembly.

However, the 1979 devolution referendum did not result in an assembly and when the Scottish Parliament was finally set up in 1999 a new site was chosen.

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