Hotel plan for top of Leith Walk

Artist's impressions of the Baxter's Place hotel. Picture:
Artist's impressions of the Baxter's Place hotel. Picture:
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PLANS for a luxury hotel to be built below Calton Hill at the former home of renowned engineer Robert Stevenson are set to be approved.

The A-listed property on Baxter’s Place next to the Playhouse Theatre will be transformed into a 239-bed, four-star hotel complete with public bar and restaurant under the proposals.

Edinburgh City Council’s development management sub-committee is expected to support officers’ recommendations to approve the plans at a meeting next Wednesday.

The forgotten row of Georgian townhouses at the top of Leith Walk holds great historical significance.

Stevenson, grandfather to Scottish novelist and Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson, lived and worked in the property until his death there in 1850.

Robert Stevenson oversaw the development of 20 lighthouses during his time working for the Northern Lighthouse Board.

One of his creations – the Bell Rock Lighthouse off Angus – is rated one of the great feats of 19th-century engineering.

Dublin-based Trendy Celt Limited owns the buildings at 1-5 Baxter’s Place and is working with property developer Chris Stewart Group on the project.

A Chris Stewart Group spokeswoman said the intention was to leave an existing plaque at the site honouring Stevenson’s engineering feats.

The spokeswoman said: “Our plan for Baxter’s Place, if granted, will bring a valuable city centre site of historic significance back into use and is supported by the local community.

“There is an increasing need for hotel accommodation in the Capital. The Chris Stewart Group has a track record in turning complex, historic buildings into contemporary hotels which seamlessly fit with the local architecture.”

The developers have previously transformed a series of three Georgian properties on Waterloo Place into the flagship 180-bed Apex Hotel.

Leith Walk councillor 
Maggie Chapman said she was interested to see how the proposed development took shape, but added: “I am sorry that we will not have something more imaginative than a hotel; I would have much preferred a regeneration proposal that would directly benefit the local communities of Calton and Hillside.”

An empty shop unit at the front of the Baxter’s Place property will be demolished and transformed into an outdoor terrace as part of the plans. A separate existing 1970s rear office building will also be knocked down.

Only two objections to the hotel proposal were submitted during a public consultation stage late last year.

A council report said there would be no adverse effect upon important views to and from Calton Hill.