Hotels

Developers ask for final chance at Edinburgh RHS

An open letter has recognised previous plans were ‘too ambitious'

Urbanist Hotels, the developer behind plans to turn Edinburgh’s Royal High School into a luxury hotel, has asked councillors for another chance to propose plans for the site.

Previous plans which revolved around a six-star, 125-bedroom Rosewood hotel, were rejected by the Scottish Government in October on the grounds that it “would result in considerable damage” to the iconic neoclassical property.

David Orr, director at Urbanist Hotels, has since recognised the plans as “too ambitious”, and is now proposing a 75-room “five-star boutique arts hotel”. 

In an open letter seen by the Scotsman, Orr said: “Urbanist Hotels has to accept that the opportunity to bring a new Rosewood Hotel to the site has now been lost, and judging from the reporter’s decision, was too ambitious in the scale of development on its west wing.

“However, that ambition was shared by the council, which sought at a minimum a 120-bedroom hotel.”

He added: “From the start, we’ve sought to faithfully implement the legal agreement that saw the potential for restoring a building that’s had no proper use in more than 50 years.

“Any decision will not be easy, but we believe it should be shaped with the preservation of the building to the fore. All we ask is for fair consideration of proposals that can restore another of Edinburgh’s great buildings.”

The letter has received backlash from opponents to the development, including the Royal High School Preservation Trust, which has alternative plans for the establishment to be utilised by St Mary’s Music School.

William Gray Muir, chair of the trust, said, via the Scotsman: “Many people will, like us, feel frustrated that the developers continue to choose to ignore the overwhelming support for the music school.

“This latest desperate attempt to maintain a hold on a building against a backdrop of years of failure would be laughable if It wasn’t so depressingly predictable.”

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