Plans to transform two historic New Town buildings into Gleneagles’ first hotel outside the iconic Perthshire estate have been given the green light by councillors.
Developers of the famous golf estate, Ennismore, won the support of the city council’s development control sub-committee to transform two empty buildings at St Andrew Square into a 33-bedroom hotel.
The development will include a three-story rear extension as well as a bronze-cladded ‘garden pavilion’, which was labelled a “complimentary contrast” by Historic Environment Scotland. The project is the first expansion in the brand’s 94-year history – labelled a “landmark moment for the business”.
The former Bank of Scotland premises next to Dundas House, which closed its doors in 2016, will be transformed into Gleneagles’ new venture.
The developers will also construct a glazed roof terrace, set back behind iconic statues. Planning convener Cllr Neil Gardiner called for the scheme to be rejected due to the impact on the statues.
He said: “This is an important building in Edinburgh. I have some concern about the glass box that may obscure your view of the statues.
“It’s a really fine building and I just wonder about that roof terrace compromising that bit of the public domain. There’s a lot of work gone into matching the requirements of the planning department.
“I feel we need to protect our heritage and I’m going to move that we have to reject the application.”
Cllr Max Mitchell disagreed with the convener’s perspective about the roof terrace.
He said: “We have seen some other examples of roof terraces in the New Town. This one has been slightly altered with a sympathetic design.
“I don’t think it would be appropriate to refuse.”
Cllr Joanna Mowat said: “I’m satisfied that the impact would be insignificant enough to give permission.
“The heritage gain, having one of the finest rooms in Edinburgh, the banking hall, open, is a huge, huge win for the city. That minor negative impact, I can live with, because the gains are greater.”
But the planning convener won the support of Cllr George Gordon for the proposals to be halted.
He said: “We should not be compromising – we should be expecting higher standards.
“It’s a reasonable scheme but it should be better and that message should be given out to developers.”
But calls for the plans to be rejected fell after other members of the committee spoke out in favour of the vision for the roof terrace.
Cllr Alex Staniforth said: “I do think it’s set back enough and the statues do stand out against glass that I don’t think it’s enough to reject this application.
“Other developers looking to turn listed buildings into hotels can learn a great deal from this application.”
Cllr Chas Booth added his support for “probably one of the most important buildings in Edinburgh”
He added: “The developer has taken on board comments from Historic Environment Scotland and others. This roof terrace will not be visible from most views of the building and therefore will have a minimal impact on this setting.
“It is bringing a currently disused building back to life.”
David Bol , Local Democracy Reporting Service
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