Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Plans for Royal High School hotel unveiled

A design image of how the new hotel would look Image copyright Hayes Davidson
Image caption Two new wings would house the hotel's bedrooms

New design images have been released of a proposed hotel on the site of Edinburgh's Old Royal High School.

The A-listed building, which overlooks the capital from Calton Hill, was built by Thomas Hamilton in 1829 but has been largely unused for decades.

Developers planning a £75m "world-class" five star hotel have now submitted an application to City of Edinburgh Council.

The move follows a "comprehensive consultation process".

Architect Gareth Hoskins, who also redesigned the National Museums of Scotland, said two new wings containing the hotel's bedrooms would be set away from the original building.

He said the two new wings would be landscaped to blend with the surrounding hill.

Conservationists had previously complained that the plan to add wings to the building was like giving it "Mickey Mouse" ears.

SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central, Marco Biagi, told BBC Scotland: "The hotel plans for the Old Royal High School have been extremely controversial, and many constituents have expressed concerns.

"These changes are a welcome improvement, but might still struggle to address the fundamental problems with the scheme - especially in terms of public acceptance."

Mr Hoskins said: "We've listened and taken on board views from a wide range of organisations and individuals through the pre-planning process to develop a fundamentally different design for the site.

Image copyright Hayes Davidson
Image copyright Hayes Davidson

"The design focuses around an informed restoration of the central Hamilton-designed building, repairing its decaying fabric and maintaining the strong sculptural presence of its frontage without intervention.

"The existing building will be entirely given over to the public areas of the new hotel allowing its spaces to be fully accessible for the first time in the building's history."

The plan to convert Hamilton's neo-classical masterpiece into a hotel is led by Duddingston House Properties (DHP) and Urbanist Hotels.

Hotel brand Rosewood Hotels and Resorts has been selected to manage the Calton Hill property.

The City of Edinburgh Council, which owns the A-listed building, granted DHP a 125-year conditional ground lease after the company won an open competition in 2010.

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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