Dear Supporters of the petition “No Confidence in the Council Planning Department”,
As a final effort to challenge this appalling decision an emergency public meeting to discuss the situation, and the wider context of speculative ‘development’ encroaching on the City, is to be held next week:
Venue: Grassmarket Community Project – 86 Candlemaker Row, EH1 2QA
Date: Thusday 13th October 2016
Time: 7 – 9pm
Please come if you can to show support, learn more and contribute to the meeting.
It’s been a very busy few months…
The campaign to challenge the appalling decision to grant planning permission to Jansons Developers for yet another large, incongruous hotel, which will dishonour the extraordinary legacy of Andrew Carnegie by fundamentally compromising the future of the Central Library and do untold damage to the well being of the already overburdened Old Town community is reaching its final stages.
After a concerted effort to lobby the Scottish Parliament to make an exceptional case and call in the highly controversial application the Parliament responded:
“Ministers… have concluded that there are no issues of national significance that would justify using the power of call-in in this particular case.”
Yet many supporters of the petition as well as the Grassmarket Residents‘ Association, the Old Town Community Council, the Old Town Development Trust and other civic bodies contend that this matter is of the GRAVEST “national significance” given:
The mass of the proposed 9 storey, 150,000 sq ft/ 225 bed hotel, extending from India Building’s in Victoria Street to the Cowgate would fundamentally compromise and overshadow the Central Library. Assessing the impact on the Library, only minimal daylight standards were applied. The lack of regard for such an important building, whose motto is “Let There Be Light”, effectively condemns one of Edinburgh’s flagship cultural assets and visitor attractions to a slow death.
(In considering the case of the Central Library the building was assessed as a Category B listed building, though it was recommended for upgrade to Category A in 2002 (a position endorsed by the Council in 2005) due to its considerable national, and indeed international significance, as the finest library Scots born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, gave to the Nation, and the 5th such library of 3000 built throughout the World. The building has therefore NOT been afforded the protection it deserves, which would otherwise have upheld an initial robust objection of Historic Environment Scotland (HES). Scandalously, after delaying upgrade by some 14 years the Central Library has now been upgraded to Category A listing, two months after permission was granted for the hotel.)
The proposed hotel would fundamentally compromise the opportunity of furthering Edinburgh’s reputation as a world cultural capital and the first UNESCO City of Literature, by taking public land that had otherwise beenlong set aside to extend the Central Library as a cultural hub fit for the 21st century, enhancing the City’s offering of major attractions.
Contrary to the assessment of Edinburgh World Heritage Trust (EWHT), Unesco advisers recently stated that the proposed hotel was “one of seven developments it had strong concerns about”, following a litany of highly controversial planning decisions and damning articles in the national and international press which is putting the future of the World Heritage status in serious doubt.
The local community have voiced grave concerns that the balance between residential and commercial interests is now critically compromised and that the local community is now in perilous decline. Of the last ten major developments in the Old Town all involve large speculative hotels or student accommodation, in addition to the rising trend of holiday/ party flats, HMO’s etc, which fundamentally erode the authentic liveability, and inestimable value that the settled community bring to the area.
The associated traffic generated by the proposed hotel would add to the already high levels of congestion noise and pollution, in breach of regulations and highlighted as an Air Quality Management Area. This was recognised in the Council’s own environmental assessment which recommended REFUSAL, though contradicted by SEPA, who relied on the applicant’s data, the veracity of which was questioned in the Council’s own environmental assessment.
The hotel would result in the closure of the Cowgatehead Church NHS practise, a vital resource used by the most vulnerable in the community, to be converted to a licensed venue in an area of over provision.
The director of UNESCO World Heritage, Mechtild Rossler, has recently stated: “I would like to express the World Heritage Centre’s strong concern about the state of urban conservation in Edinburgh. The quality and pervasiveness of development projects being pursued without due consideration for conservation is deeply worrying.”
UNESCO hold government responsible for the duty of care of World Heritage and this response of Ministers to an exceptional case for call-in confirms that the Scottish Government is now complicit in the growing list of public bodies in dereliction of duty and care of heritage, culture and the local community, to which the City of Edinburgh Council is the greatest offender having become thoroughly perverted through maladministration and debt and embroiled in many controversies relating to planning decisions, which the “No Confidence in the Council Planning Department”, now reaching 6000 signatures of support, can attest.
At the start of the current term of office the Council released a statement which read:
“We also need to acknowledge that there has been a breakdown in trust between the residents of Edinburgh and their elected representatives on The Council. That relationship needs to be repaired… With the local government elections of 3 May 2012 over, this new Contract with the Capital marks a fresh start, with a Council willing to listen to local people and work together with local communities… A council where co-operation, fairness, accountability and responsibility will really matter… The City will be able to judge the Council against this promise.”
The evidence of this case and many others reveals that the Council has been in serious dereliction of duty.
Somewhat ironically, having become utterly frustrated with the dishonourable process and consciously choosing to occupy the public land of the Cowgate adjoining the Library to safeguard it from the fate of this ‘hideous’ heartbreak hotel, I was summoned to court in August by the Council. Consequently an eviction order has now been issued.
See Facebook page for more details of the occupation:
Thank You for your continuing support.
Yours for the Love of Edina,
Ps If you need reminding how ‘hideous’ this hotel proposal is see:
Also for more info, a number of articles have recently been published in response to the India Buildings campaign:
Simon Byrom started this campaign on the 38 Degrees Campaigns by You website. If there’s an issue close to your heart that you’d like to campaign on, you can start your campaign here.
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