Edinburgh City Council is hoping that the sale of a derelict yard in Kings Stables Road will result in a "landmark development of shops apartments and hotels".
Why it needs to be a "landmark" when the site is just beneath the Castle is open to question – and does the area need yet another hotel?
The Council is selling the derelict cleansing department yard behind 6 - 20 Kings Stables Road, advertising it as suitable for a "landmark development of shops apartments and hotels". It would be a very attractive site for a hotel as it is just beneath the Castle with fantastic views – if you don't mind a crick in your neck.
Though why Edinburgh needs more hotels is a mystery to most Old Town residents, especially given that the Radisson on the High Street is currently up for sale.
Official planning guidance for the area proposes a mixture of uses, predominantly residential with offices, commercial, retail and hotel.
In the Trust's view this is a very suitable site for adding to the Old Town's dwindling stock of family housing, a view that’s strongly supported by the Old Town Community Council.
The Council's urban design guidelines for the site include a hypothetical 3D study of building form. This recommends the replacement of the 1960s office block at 20 Kings Stables Road (currently under scaffolding for safety reasons) with a new building of similar height (4/5 storeys), which could be extended to the West and South.
The mainly 2 storey historic buildings lining the South and East sides of the yard are to be restored or replaced at a similar height. The existing tenements at 6-15 Kings Stables Road (mainly privately owned) will be retained, but with their ground floors, currently empty stores and part of the sale site, used for retail/shopping to enliven the street frontage; a good idea to try and brighten up what can be a dreary, and at night, threatening place for pedestrians.
This site is likely to attract interest from major developers, whose intentions will be to maximise commercial value. This may lead to a clash with the planning guidelines. There may well be proposals to increase the height and volume of building on the site, and to build more student flats rather than family housing.In recent years the Council has a poor record in resisting developers’ demands if these conflict with planning policies.
From the local community's viewpoint it is important that the call for residential development on the site is supported, but also that the other aspects of the agreed planning and urban design guidelines hold sway.