City chiefs snub heritage fears and approve Caltongate

THE DECISION to approve the controversial £300 million Caltongate scheme was upheld by the council's planning committee today, despite concerns that it could affect the city's World Heritage Status.

Because of their financial involvement in the scheme, which is tied in to a vacant council site, council officials had to write back to all 350 objectors, inviting them to submit further comments and present any new evidence they believe should be considered, after initially approving the scheme.

As expected, conservation groups, including the Cockburn Association, raised the point that Unesco has launched an investigation into Edinburgh's World Heritage status, which critics believe is threatened by the Caltongate plans.

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A Unesco delegation is set to visit Edinburgh later this year, but despite this members of the planing committee decided to confirm their original decision.

Local councillor David Beckett had urged them to take the opportunity to "correct their mistake" and refuse the application, but councillor Jim Lowrie, the planning committee convener, said it would be "illogical" to reverse a decision taken after more than ten hours of debate simply because of a Unesco visit.

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