London, New York, Manchester . . they all object to Caltongate

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THE controversial £300 million Caltongate development for Edinburgh's Old Town has attracted opposition from as far away as New York, the Western Isles and London.

Visitors, former residents and ex-students from towns and cities including Glasgow, Aberdeen, Nottingham, Bristol, Manchester, Banbury, Melton Mowbray and Leamington Spa have written to the city council to protest against the scheme.

Around 350 individuals and organisations have between them lodged more than 1800 objections to various aspects of the project.

While the bulk of the letters came from Old Town residents, representations were also made by city architects and Edinburgh University staff and students.

And the council was also sent correspondence from prominent groups, such as the International Council on Monuments and Sites, Friends of the Earth Edinburgh and the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, as well as local community organisations.

The Caltongate plans involve a cultural quarter, a five-star hotel and conference centre, office blocks, 200 homes, bars, restaurants and cafs, as well as a new street linking Princes Street to Holyrood.

The scheme has won the backing of council officials, but councillors will have their say next week. Officials are obliged to consider all letters of representation, no matter how far they have travelled.

Among those to officially register objections is Erica Murray, from Marietta in New York, who wrote: "I pray that all those involved in this will re-think the project and go back to the drawing board to come up with a design that will enhance, rather than destroy, the Old Town."

Closer to home, Ray Burnett, a historian from Torlum on the Isle of Benbecula, said: "The design of the Caltongate scheme is entirely out of character with the historic, social and cultural essence of the High Street-Canongate area."

While Edinburgh architect James Simpson OBE added: "These applications contradict the principles by which development in the World Heritage Site should be managed and controlled."

Bill Cowan, spokesman for the Old Town Association, said opposition was growing ahead of the crucial meeting. "The architecture proposed is simply not good enough for a World Heritage Site."

The main areas of objection include fears over the loss of heritage and character, as well as concerns about the proposed flagship building and the demolition of two listed buildings.

Richard Slipper, chief planning adviser to Caltongate developers Mountgrange, said the number of objections was "not unexpected" for a such a complex project.

. . AND THOSE IN SUPPORT

SOME of Scotland's key business and tourism organisations have come out in support of the contentious Caltongate scheme.

Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian has written to the city council, offering its backing for the "wider objectives" of the plans.

Ben Carter, area director at VisitScotland, has also submitted a letter of support.

He said: "VisitScotland would support the development of a flagship hotel as part of the Caltongate development on the understanding that the development takes cognisance of the importance of Edinburgh's Old Town retaining its World Heritage Site status."

Sue Stuart, chief executive of the Edinburgh Convention Bureau, added: "

The (proposed] hotel and conference centre will help achieve the national ambition to grow total tourism revenue by 50 per cent by 2015."

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&#149 www.edinburgh.gov.uk

&#149 www.caltongate.com