Green light for Old Town development

An artist's impression of the King's Stables Road development

An artist's impression of the King's Stables Road development

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A series of disused buildings in the Capital’s Old Town will be transformed after councillors approved a controversial development.

They paved the way for the project on King’s Stables Road, near the Grassmarket, following a lengthy meeting on Thursday.

A 92-bedroom hotel is at the centre of the development, alongside studio flats, student accommodation and a public square.

Members of local groups, including heritage watchdog the Cockburn Association and Old Town community council, gave presentations urging councillors to refuse the proposals.

Developers had previously altered their designs after a public consultation threw up concerns about the amount of student flats.

The volume of student accommodation was reduced by a third to 167 rooms, while the residential units were increased to 59.

The project will also involve the upgrade of an existing courtyard, which historians believe was a site for jousting.

The area is also made up of former council offices, a warehouse, a four storey tenement and a mews building.

Marion Williams, of the Cockburn Association, told the committee: “The site is full of characterful buildings, we need to continue to tell the stories of our city.

“The courtyard, the buildings are listed for their architectural merit. We are losing so much of our heritage within the wider heritage site.”

She said she had asked a group of students for their views on the site and they had claimed it should have been a more “sympathetic development”.

Planning officers had recommended the overall application be granted but the proposed arts facility and ten flats on Lady Wynd refused.

Conservative councillor Joanna Mowat moved for the entire project to be refused due to the “uncomfortable housing mix”.

She also raised concerns the project was “overly weighted towards commercial use”.

The discussion was interrupted by angry outbursts from the public gallery, with a man repeatedly saying: “You need to listen to the public.”

Following around four hours of deliberation, councillors voted 11 to three in favour of the development.

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