Council approves Edinburgh city centre scheme

Long-delayed plans for 185 homes, a 400-room hotel, 20,000 square metres of office and commercial space, and a range of commercial units have been approved for a site in Edinburgh city centre.

An artist's visualisation of the proposed development
An artist's visualisation of the proposed development

The Caltongate redevelopment scheme, led by Artisan Real Estate Investors, includes a mix of leisure, retail and offices, linking the city’s New Street and East Market Street with Waveley Station and the Royal Mile.

Members of Edinburgh City Council’s development management sub-committee yesterday gave their backing to applications that form part of the scheme for the 2.35-hectare former gasworks and bus garage site.

In addition to the new housing, the scheme would provide 16,878 square metres of office space, 15,272 square metres of hotel space, 5,623 square metres of commercial space, and a new public square.

The frontages of Old Sailors Ark and MacRae Tenements would also be retained for elements of the development.

As Planning has previously reported, the regeneration of the site was stalled in 2009 when developer Mountgrange went into administration.

Artisan bought part of the site Mountgrange owned in December 2011.

Recommending the scheme for approval, planning officers said in a report that while the application site was "a sensitive location" within Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, it was "not considered to be typical of the organic medieval form that underpins much of the Old Town".

"The application site has been an empty gap site since prior to when the previous application was approved, having been cleared of the remnants of the former bus depot and the industrial legacy of the Waverley Valley," they said.

"In its current form it does not provide a positive contribution to the character and quality of the setting of this part of the World Heritage Site.

"The proposed redevelopment would deliver strong urban blocks characteristic of the large buildings along the Waverley Valley, such as the railway station, CEC building and St Andrews House, sitting in the valley between the New Town Conservation Area and the Royal Mile corridor of the Old Town Conservation Area."

Following the sub committee's approval of the proposals, panel convener Ian Perry said the development would "breathe new life into a long-standing vacant site" and create almost 2,000 jobs.

"As the development has a mix of uses it will attract many more people to the area and with new housing on adjacent sites, including 40 affordable homes that are already being built, it will bring a real boost to the Old Town community," he said.

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