Revamp of Edinburgh’s ‘dark and uninviting’ corner

DETAILED plans for the £60 million regeneration of part of Edinburgh city centre which will create an estimated 750 jobs have been put forward to the city council.

An artists impression of the redevelopment at The Registers off St Andrew Square in Edinburgh

Property investment and development company Chris Stewart Group (CSG), which was behind the Advocate’s Close project in the Old Town, is proposing the major investment in The Registers, an area to the south east of St Andrew Square, to create a mix of offices, hotel, residential apartments, retail units and restaurants.

As part of the plans, two key historic listed buildings currently on the “at risk” register will be restored and a restaurant created in the art deco banking hall of the former Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters building in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square.

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The listed neo-classical building has lain vacant since ex-Heart of Midlothian owner Vladimir Romanov bought it in 2007. He no longer owns the building.

But under a controversial aspect of the plans, a derelict 1850s Victorian tenement will be demolished to make way for Grade A office accommodation.

Chris Stewart, chief executive of Edinburgh-based CSG, said the proposals would see a comprehensive regeneration of a “dark and uninviting part of the city centre”.

“Restoring more than 90 per cent of the listed fabric of the site, as well as the neglected surrounding lanes, is a major heritage gain for Edinburgh as these buildings can, once more, be put back into business and commercial use and thus can be universally appreciated and enjoyed by all,” he said.

“Delivering this regeneration will not only result in huge improvements to the public realm, they will also bring significant economic benefits to the wider city, including the delivery of much needed Grade A office space, whilst also complementing the St James development.”

But plans to demolish the listed Victorian former tenement building as part of the scheme came in for criticism from heritage organisations when it was initially proposed.

Stewart said the project hinges on the demolition of the property which he said respected architectural historians had confirmed “had no special historic or architectural interest”.

“In its place, the CSG applications propose a building of excellent architectural design; a building that will complement its surroundings utilising a combination of stonework and glazing and sensitively merging the old with the new,” said Stewart, who founded the property investment and development company 19 years ago. He said it had reworked its plans to ensure final design proposals were both “visually compelling and sit comfortably in Edinburgh’s skyline”.

“We have consulted extensively to ensure our planning proposals stand up to scrutiny on every level,” he added.

Earlier this month, CSG, which is also working on a £20m revamp of a derelict site at the top of Leith Walk in the capital, announced its first move into Glasgow. It has paid £5.1m for a collection of buildings off Glasgow’s George Square. The site will be redeveloped to include serviced apartments, retail units and student flats.

The former council offices, dubbed the George Street Complex, overlook Glasgow City Chambers and comprise seven properties, including two listed buildings.