Duddingston House Properties and the Urbanist Hotel have an agreed contract with the City of Edinburgh Council to deliver a design solution for the Old Royal High School. This contract expires in 2022.
The contract was agreed in good faith following a competitive competition featuring more than 50 other proposals.
We remain committed to this contract and our competition-winning development proposal is the only realistic and contractually viable option on the table. Our scale of investment is of Scottish national importance and UK significance and represents an exemplar post-Brexit inward-investment tourism project.
Old Royal High School: Timeline of Developments
The main building of Edinburgh’s Royal High School was erected between 1826 and 1829 on the south face of Calton Hill It was designed in a neo-classical style by celebrated architect Thomas Hamilton.
The Royal High School relocates to modern premises Barnton, leaving the school buildings unused and derelict for 50 years.
Duddingston House wins an OJEU-registered competition to regenerate the site which attracted 53 other proposals. A design team is established and led by internationally recognised Scottish-based Hoskins Architects and is later joined (in 2014) by the widely respected conservation architect Andrew Wright OBE. Cllr Jenny Dawe, Leader of the Council, welcomes the decision saying: “This is a hugely exciting development for one of Edinburgh’s and Scotland’s best loved landmarks…it will bring the Royal High back into public use for the first time in over 40 years.”
The plan to bring a world-class hotel to the Old Royal High School site was ratified by relevant City of Edinburgh council committees, stating that the proposal met the council’s conditions and objectives of delivering a high-quality design-led solution for the site that did not require public funding.
Now joined by co-investor Urbanist Hotels, the developers agree a partnership with international hotel group Rosewood Hotels and Resorts as part of a £75 million plan to transform the site into a hotel of global standing, maintaining and respecting Hamilton’s iconic centrepiece building.
Independent market research of a 5000-strong sample by consultants Scott Porter show overwhelming public support for the proposals (90%) in one of the largest market research exercises ever carried out by a developer in Edinburgh.
The first planning proposal was narrowly defeated (by one vote) by the council’s planning committee primarily due to concerns over scale, despite the council’s own planning report stating that “the architecture proposed is a sophisticated response to the site’s context.”
A revised proposal was submitted to the council which retains the praised design of Hoskins Architects’ original scheme yet substantially reduces the scale of the west wing and almost all of the interventions to the listed centrepiece building. The number of rooms are reduced from 147 to 127.
The Oxford Economics, Economic Impact Assessment 2017 report states that in total the Rosewood Hotel project is predicted to generate £35.1 million in gross domestic product annually for Scotland’s economy, sufficient to support 850 jobs on average and to generate £13.3 million in taxation annually. 250 direct jobs would be created by the new hotel development as well as supporting 590 additional jobs in the wider supply-chain – particularly the food & drink and tourism sector.
Follow-up independent market research by Scott Porter, using a representative 500-strong Edinburgh-based sample shows 93% of responders were in favour of the Rosewood Hotel proposals.
The City of Edinburgh Council unanimously refuses planning permission for the revised proposals following a meeting of the Development Sub Committee on 31s August, despite the council’s own planning report stating: “The architecture is a clearly considered architectural response to locating a large building within a sensitive context.”
The developers confirm with the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division of the Scottish Government that they will be appealing the refusal of both planning applications and the associated listed building applications. The Scottish Ministers confirm they will decide on any future decision.
The Scottish Government appeals process is scheduled to start on September 18th.