Landmark decisions that shape the city

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I take grave exception to Professor Richard Williams’ personal opinion, framed in his over-arching comments in your article about architecture, “Nothing of significance has been built in Edinburgh since the mid-19th century” (11 March).

In 1987-8 the then City of Edinburgh District Council put out to open tender for development the infamous “hole in the ground” site at Castle Terrace.

The company of which I was then managing director submitted its design and financial offer for the site.

There were more than 20 submissions from many parts of the United Kingdom and all went on public exhibition in what was then Waverley Market.

A poll of the citizens of Edinburgh placed the design by my company’s team for the complex of offices, public areas and the Traverse Theatre far ahead of all other submissions.

Planning permission was granted in 1988 and the complicated work of construction started on site with completion of the development in 1992.

Saltire Court is an award-winning design and is pristine today, unlike other contemporaneous buildings.

Viewed in both daylight and when floodlit, it is a well-mannered building graciously acknowledging its position in the gentle curve of Castle Terrace.

The architects who led the team were Campbell and Arnott of Edinburgh and I worked tirelessly with them and the principal contractors to ensure the building would be an impressive and valuable asset for as long into the future as the New Town itself has existed.

The complex is recognised worldwide as making a significant contribution to Edinburgh.

I trust that this explanation is accepted by Professor Williams, who may wish to so acknowledge the contribution that Saltire Court does make to Edinburgh’s World Heritage status.

gORDON s mILNE obe

Dovecote Grove

Edinburgh

I agree with Professor Williams on one thing: we are risk-averse to glorious architectural projects.

As a member of Edinburgh’s planning committee I would love to support bold and beautiful projects which enhance the city and its skyline.

Two factors come to mind which prevent us from getting the great architecture most of us want.

One is the influence of some of the heritage bodies, which too often oppose and carp because the proposals involve “change” or are seen to threaten their narrow view of what might be acceptable.

Along with that goes an approach which is unrealistic about the practicalities of 21st-century development opportunities in the city.

Secondly, entrepreneurs need to want to do something dramatic, distinctive and exciting in Edinburgh.

Such investors need to be stimulated and supported rather than the subject of constant sniping.

(Cllr) Cameron Rose 

Planning committee member

City Chambers

Edinburgh

Andrew Gray laments the beautiful buildings demolished for anonymous modern developments (Letters, 12 March) but it is ironic that he suggests Edinburgh University could have advised Edinburgh Council, albeit only on the correct use of the word “atrium”, considering that the university itself was instrumental in destroying George Square in the 1960s in one of the worst examples ever of such vandalism in our capital.

John Birkett

Horseleys Park

St Andrews

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