Harry Potter and Rebus stars back new Filmhouse vision as World Heritage Site watchdog raises alarm

Harry Potter favourite Robbie Coltrane and Rebus star Ken Stott have thrown their weight behind plans for a new £60 million “temple of film” in Edinburgh - as the body charged with protecting the city's World Heritage Site status demanded it go back to the drawing board.

It is hoped the proposed new home for the Filmhouse and Edinburgh International Film Festival will be up and running in 2025.

Game of Thrones star Kate Dickie has also emerged as a supporter of the proposed new home for the city’s Filmhouse cinema and the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The nine-storey complex, which earmarked for a public square at the heart of Edinburgh’s culture quarter if it gets the green light, would feature six cinema screens, an events and conference centre, separate cafe-bar and restaurant facilities and a rooftop terrace.

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However councillors are being warned that the proposed venture, which would be taller than both the nearby Usher Hall and Sheraton Grand Hotel, would be “harmful” to the city’s World Heritage Site, even though it is outwith its boundary.

Concerns have been raised that it is being built closed to the city’s historic Usher Hall, would impact on views from Edinburgh Castle and would dominate the area.

The Edinburgh World Heritage Trust wants the height of the building, which has already been cut back by two storeys following the unveiling of initial designs, to be reduced even further.

It has also complained about two giant screens which would show images from forthcoming moves on the outside of the building as well as its illuminated glass cladding.

A spokesman said: “We welcomes the principle of this development as a continuation of the cultural offer of Edinburgh. However, the proposal in its current form would have a harmful impact.”

Robbie Coltrane set his sights on making it in the movie industry after working as a driver for the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 1973.

However the Centre for the Moving Image, which runs the existing Filmhouse and the festival, pointed out that of more than 650 submissions to the city council, nearly 550 have been supportive.

In a message of support, Coltrane said: “I’m absolutely delighted to hear about the new Filmhouse plans.

“Years ago I worked for the film festival, driving Martin Scorsese, Paul Bartel and Brian de Palma to screenings of their films. I decided that whatever I did with my life, it had to be about the movies.

"The idea of a major film oriented major facility in Scotland ( some of us have been asking for this for 30 years!) is just terrific.

Ken Stott played grizzled detective John Rebus on screen in the TV adaptation of Ian Rankin's best-selling novel series.

"I wish the Filmhouse all the very best with this development.”

Stott said: “The new Filmhouse will be a focal point in the capital city for those who love and those who wish to learn about film.

"In time, it may even come to be regarded as having played a significant part in halting the diaspora of Scottish talent.”

Dickie said: “I’m so excited about the plans for the new Filmhouse - they sound wonderful and exactly what Edinburgh needs.

"It will be amazing for the film festival to have a venue like this too.”

CMI chief executive Ken Hay said: “We’ve been delighted to see the significant support shown for the new Filmhouse.

"Of course, there will be concerns expressed during this process and we will discuss these with the council’s planning team in the coming weeks.

“The new Filmhouse is a bold and contemporary building, sitting as a modern equal of the Usher Hall, Royal Lyceum Theatre and Traverse Theatre.”

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