Proposed Edinburgh offices an ‘eyesore’

Posted on by John Cronin

A property development company is facing stiff opposition for a planned multiple office block scheme in Edinburgh.

Tiger Developments’ plans for a site at Haymarket in Edinburgh are facing strong objections from several heritage groups. Previous plans submitted by the developers for a 17-storey five-star hotel were thrown out in the wake of a public inquiry and now the company is seeking permission for new office accommodation along with a much smaller hotel and retail units.

The land is a gap site in Haymarket on the outskirts of Edinburgh’s world heritage site, next to the Haymarket railway station. The initial scheme, which would have seen an Intercontinental hotel built on Morrison Street along with offices affording floor space of some 335,000 sq ft, was supported by Historic Scotland and approved by councillors after just one hearing, despite widespread concerns about the height of the main building. The scheme was subsequently rejected by the Scottish Government in October, 2009.

Tiger Developments is now proposing four “environmentally-friendly and contemporary office buildings” – as well as a budget hotel on what is described as “one of Edinburgh’s longest existing gap sites”. The tallest of the new office buildings will be 8 storeys high. The Cockburn Association, the main heritage watchdog in Edinburgh said other than the removal of the towering hotel from the previous scheme, there was “little difference” with the new plans. It is claimed that the new office blocks will have a detrimental affect on views to and from the area and will be an eyesore thanks to its “lumpy” design and “ugly” buildings, which will “tower over existing properties”.

Cockburn Association director Marion Williams told The Scotsman: “The overall height of the development is a significant concern. The roofs of the proposed buildings are lumpy and cannot be considered a landmark”.

Campaigners say the new plans fail to link the buildings with other developments in the area, such as the redeveloped railway station building and the nearby Springside development. The latter development includes Springside One, a new 5 storey office block offering over 60,000 sq ft of flexible floor space with an estimated completion date of 2010.

Tiger Developments is part of the O’Flynn Group which is one of the largest privately owned Irish property and construction companies. The company hopes to gain planning permission for the Haymarket scheme by the end of 2010.

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