- Published: 19 May 2016 19 May 2016
The Old Town Development Trust, the Grassmarket Residents’ Association and coordinators of the ‘Let There Be Light in Edinburgh’s Old Town’ online petition are leafleting readers at the front doors to the Central Library on George IV Bridge this Saturday morning 21 May from 10 am in a final surge to stave off the India Buildings planning application.
The development is an act of desperation, based on short-term economic gain, spear-headed by the Council who have offered up publicly-owned land next to the Library to the hotel developers Jansons. The shackles will be permanently clamped onto Edinburgh Central Library if the proposed 225 bedroom hotel is given the go ahead at next weeks meeting on 25 May of the Development Management Sub-Committee. Stretching from Victoria Street right back to the Cowgate the massive 9-storey building will steal daylight and views currently enjoyed by users of Scotland’s best Andrew Carnegie-endowed library, casting a deep shadow on the well-used main lending room and internationally important Edinburgh and Scottish Collection.
In 1887, the famous architect, George Washington Browne, won a competition to design this Andrew Carnegie-endowed library (an ongoing review by Historic Environment Scotland should see the building upgraded to A-listed). The site had been selected because ‘it could be guaranteed plenty of light and air without the threat of interference from other buildings’. The principal aim of Washington Browne’s design was to maximise light (source: Historic Scotland) which is achieved with the large windows up the full height of the west wall. For 125 years his building has served the people of Edinburgh, who enter beneath a stone banner engraved 'Let There Be Light'. Remarkably the 9-storey hotel building will be separated from the library building by a narrow lane just 3 metres wide. There have been over 200 letters of objection to this massive hotel including from the Old Town Community Council, Grassmarket Resident’s Association, Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust, Old Town Association, Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, the Cockburn Association and over 1000 signatures on the 38 Degrees online petition “Let There Be Light in Edinburgh's Old Town”.