The developer behind Edinburgh's Caltongate site has been given a three-year extension to its planning approval, reports the BBC.
Developer Artisan is now legally entitled to demolish two listed buildings. It asked councillors to take "on trust" that it would not proceed with the work. However, residents have expressed concern that the demolitions might go ahead.
Artisan said it needed to renew the original master plan to preserve the value of the Royal Mile site and attract the investment necessary to allow the revised plans to go ahead. However, the Old Town community council argues the original master plan is now outdated and the demolition consent should be removed.
At Edinburgh City Council's development subcommittee, councillors backed the company by 11 votes to 2, granting Artisan a three-year extension to the original planning consents. Marion Williams, director of Edinburgh's campaigning heritage group the Cockburn Association, said the planning committee's decision was one of the worst she had ever seen.
She said: "Our major concern is the developer is receiving permissions to demolish two buildings where there has been work done to prove there are viable alternatives. And the material conditions behind the original planning consent have changed because the economic climate in 2008 was completely different to where we are now in 2013." South Africa-based Artisan said it intends to invest a seven-figure sum in fully revised planning and design with phased work due to start next year.
Adrian Welch, editor of edinburgharchitecture.co.uk said "Consent should be cancelled. The listed buildings are part of the rich texture of the Old Town which is already wearing very thin in this area. There are always ways to creatively re-use such buildings. Pressure should be placed on the developer to progress this rapidly ahead of the new-build development which clearly needs much more time to consider. It is crucial the council takes a firm lead here and ensure top quality designs by top quality architects. I've said it before but it is worth restating, the North Holyrood masterplan serves as an excellent prototype for this site - a rich matrix of architecture, universally applauded by locals and visitors alike".
30 Aug 2012
Caltongate - Agreement News
Edinburgh City Council reaches compromise agreement with the new developer Artisan who will make £6.5m worth of improvements to the area around the site, but just a £50,000 contribution to the city's tram project.
22 Aug 2012
Caltongate Development - News
Caltongate Site Start
WORK is set to get underway within months on one of Edinburgh’s most notorious gap sites after developers said they would retain almost half of a £300 million scheme off the Royal Mile, reports The Edinburgh Evening News today.
However, some of the more contentious elements of the “Caltongate” project are set to be dropped or scaled back under plans to redraw much of the original blueprint, which triggered an international inquiry into Edinburgh’s world heritage status.
A listed former school building that had been earmarked for demolition could now be saved after new architects were called in to redesign the southern half of the blueprint for the site, including a new public square and arts quarter.
New plans are expected to be submitted to the city council in the autumn, but developers Artisan insist some elements of the scheme do not need planning permission for work to begin.
Work is expected to start shortly on several sections of the site adjacent to Calton Road, where a temporary hotel is currently operating for the Fringe. This includes a mixture of regular and affordable housing blocks, office space, retail units and a car park.
However, the prospect of other changes has raised hopes that the Canongate Venture building, which was due to be replaced as part of a hotel and conference centre complex, could become home to a proposed new writers’ centre.
Lukas Nakos, frontman for the South African consortium which bought the gap site out of administration last year, said it had an “open mind” on parts of the site now and pledged the final blueprint would only be decided at the end of an ongoing consultation process.
Plans to turn the former Victorian school into a new arts centre emerged months after the previous developers in charge of Caltongate went into administration.
The old school building, which dates back to 1901, would become a hub for publishers, literary organisations, writers and illustrators, under a bid by the Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust.
Mr Nakos said: “We are looking at redesigning the whole southern section of the development site, roughly from the arches on Market Street and the proposed public square to the Royal Mile.
“We have not made any final decisions over this area. We are well aware of the plans for the literary centre in the Canongate Venture building.
Fears capital could lose its World Heritage Site status, report the Glasgow Herald. The United Nations is poised to "call in" controversial £300m plans for a hotel and conference centre amid fresh concerns of a threat to Edinburgh's World Heritage Site status.
A South African-led consortium has developed similar plans for Caltongate to those that prompted UNESCO to send the previous developers of the 640,000 sqft site back to the drawing board.
Now heritage watchdogs are preparing a new case to go to Unesco to prevent the city being stripped of its World Heritage Site status.
UNESCO investigators warned previously that "to avoid the development having an impact on the outstanding universal value, authenticity and integrity of the World Heritage property" developers should carry out a total redesign.
Despite some compromise on keeping two listed building facades, concerns remained over the demolition of the Canongate School – despite ongoing studies into keeping the building and re-using it as a community hub – and the scale and ambience of the development.
Artisan Real Estate Investors plans to build:-
- a 195,000 sq ft, five-star hotel with 211 bedrooms
- an 18,000 sq ft conference centre
- around 160,000 sq ft of office space
- 30 new shops and cafes
- 165 new homes
Further detailed plans are due to be lodged with the council within weeks. It will also go before the UN World Heritage committee.
David Black, of the Historic Buildings Trust, has also contacted UNESCO, warning Edinburgh could suffer the same fate as the Baroque German city of Dresden, which was deleted from UNESCO's list in 2009 because of the building of a four-lane bridge in the city.
16 Dec 2011
Caltongate News from 2011
The redevelopment of Edinburgh's Caltongate site in Edinburgh's Old Town is back on, according to the Edinburgh Evening News.
The consortium, lead by Artisan Real Estate Investors, hopes to produce designs based on the previous plans in the new year. This consortium, including South African developers, has bought part of the land, which has planning for a hotel, office complex, 30 shops and 160 homes. The new plans are likely to be more modest.
Cllr Tom Buchanan, convener of the council's economic development committee, said the fact Artisan had chosen Edinburgh illustrated how attractive the city was for foreign investors. The new plans are only for part of the land from the initial development. Several of the plots belonged to the city council, which withdrew them from the sale being handled by administrators Deloitte. However, Artisan has approached the council to acquire some of these assets. This will be debated by councillors on 22 Dec 2011.
Caltongate Development News
A company which has never invested outside of the Canadian city of Calgary has been revealed as the firm that wants to revive the controversial Caltongate scheme, reports The Scotsman.
Prism Developments is on the brink of a deal to buy up the site off the Royal Mile and develop it in line with the original plans, which bit the dust when previous developer Mountgrange collapsed in early 2009.
The company has only ever worked in and around the Calgary area in relatively small schemes but is now planning its first venture in Europe.
Property experts have expressed shock that a firm with no international track record is set to snap up one of Edinburgh's most valuable gap sites, which could make way for hundreds of homes, offices, a five-star hotel and conference centre and a series of shops and cafes.
Ali Ghana, who heads up Prism Developments, has confirmed in Canada that his company is ready to invest in the Caltongate site, which is being sold by Mountgrange administrator Deloitte on behalf of the company's biggest creditor, Bank of Scotland.
One property insider said: "We checked with contacts in Canada and they said that these guys are basically frontmen with a number of secondary developments in Canada.
"It is a small operation that goes out and looks for investors. That does not make them bad people but it means they have no real experience.
"For a scheme of this size, it is unusual that the bank would look to move it forward with someone who has no real track record. But as long as they get their money in they won't care."
The city council, which withdrew its own land and property assets from the site because of frustration at the amount of time it was taking Deloitte to strike a deal, could come to an agreement for the developer to snap up the assets again.
Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city's economic development leader, said: "Obviously we would like somebody to take the Caltongate site forward.
"We will not get into detailed discussions until we know what they have agreed with Deloitte. But if someone takes on the former Mountgrange land we will look to enter into discussions on the way for forward."
Stewart Taylor, a director at the property firm CB Richard Ellis in Edinburgh, said: "It would be good for the city if someone is finally about to develop (that site]. The fact that there have been issues with other large developments, such as at Haymarket, means it would be a good thing if that scheme is about to come forward". 3 Mar
Caltongate Development Plans
Caltongate Alternative picture from architect Caltongate alternative proposal designed by ANTA architecture. 22 Mar 2010
Caltongate Project - News Update
UNESCO inspectors' report demands the council review the whole Caltongate development according to The Scotsman. UNESCO inspectors are reportedly demanding a reprieve for two listed buildings threatened with demolition, removal of the new building on Jeffrey Street, and a full review of how the development would impact on views from Calton Hill. With the developer in administration the city council is now under intense pressure to react, as they retain ownership of the land designated for the hotel. 6 Jun 2009
Caltongate News Update
Taskforce, led by Save Our Old Town, set up to rejuvenate empty buildings and landscape vacant space left by the collapse of developers Mountgrange. 4 Apr 2009
Caltongate News Update
The developers Mountgrange Capital have gone into administration. 23 Mar 2009
Directors of Mountgrange Capital - Martin Myers and Manish Chande - have appointed Deloitte but are reportedly also considering buying the firm's assets out of administration.
Text from Malcolm Fraser + James Simpson. 2 Apr 2009 [see link above]
Approval - News Update
Approved by Ministers Sep 2008 - no Public Enquiry
pictures from the developers
Allan Murray Architects - masterplan
Allan Murray Architects + CDA - main section
RHWL + Page\Park - hotel
Malcolm Fraser Architects - Jeffrey Street and/or Leith Wynd building
Zone Architects - Market Street Arches
In the Summer of 2008 at least 60 architects in Edinburgh have lost their jobs due to the credit crunch and housing market failure: approval of the Caltongate project will help the city and especially in the near future all those involved in property, development and construction. Issues re the removal of buildings on the historic High Street and the lovely Victorian school have understandably upset campaigners and lessons must be learnt re dialogue.
However even the smallest proposal in central Edinburgh - such as Richard Murphy's considered Hart Street house design - are lambasted before they hit planning so dialogue is clearly difficult when a kneejerk reaction to any changes, especially contemporary architecture, is guaranteed.
Adrian Welch, 1 Oct 2008
Previously, Aug 2008: Caltongate Problems
As developments in the capital grind to a halt and architects lay off staff the latest casualty is the major Caltongate scheme. A "procedural mistake" has been made by the planning department.
Council Officials have disastrously been forced to write back to all 350 Caltongate objectors, inviting them to submit further comments and present any new evidence they believe should be considered. This may delay the project.
The requirement to give objectors another 14 days to comment was apparently overlooked by council officials. The Caltongate planning application will have to be considered again, before going back to ministers for another final decision.
Development in the city is notoriously slow - the project received planning way back in June 2007.
The UNESCO review of the city's World Heritage Status - reportedly driven by concerns over Caltongate - may be sited by objectors.
The Town and Country Planning (notification of applications) (Scotland) Direction 2007 requires councils with a financial interest in a development to contact all objectors after a local decision has been reached. Only after residents have been given a further chance to comment should ministers be asked to make a final decision. 7 Aug
picture from architect
UNESCO / Caltongate - News Update Jul 2008
Like the IOC and the European Commission, UNESCO is an undemocratic body that wields immense power. Apparently the Government's decision not to call the Caltongate plans in has made Unesco want to review the city's world heritage status: they will send a mission to Edinburgh, in particular to the Caltongate development
Caltongate proposals approved, but to be referred to Scottish ministers + demolition of Canongate tenements unapproved. Controversial meeting lasted until after 7pm
image from Mountgrange via PPS Group 290507
Caltongate - News
James Simpson condemned the Caltongate project, saying it would damage Edinburgh's World Heritage Site.
He maintained that the Caltongate developers should "go back to the drawing board...The case for demolition has not been made at all. It is in good repair, is structurally sound and is still in use for its original purpose...There is no doubt that the redevelopment of the old bus depot site at New Street is a good thing but I do think it is regrettable that the council has seen fit to encourage the developer to develop a wider area by knocking down listed buildings and a perfectly good tenement building on the Canongate...In a medieval town like Edinburgh, any development should be kept to a minimum but it has been profoundly misguided to encourage a development as big as this one is now."
James Simpson said demolishing the tenement would be against policies and guidance of Historic Scotland and the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust.
In a separate development a decision on the Caltongate development is delayed due to a site visit following objections from Canongate Kirk re 5-storey blocks on Calton Road.
images from Mountgrange via PPS Group 290507
On the Scotsman’s Forum the Caltongate proposals are described with vitriol, eg. “Boring, unattractive, and with no sense of place or style” and compared with Tel Aviv, central Frankfurt & Plymouth!
Ipsos MORI is collecting views on the proposed regeneration of the former New Street bus depot and East Market Street (known commonly as Caltongate) on behalf of a range of organisations including the developers (Mountgrange Caltongate Ltd), the Caltongate Liaison Group and the City of Edinburgh Council.
Caltongate - News
A+DS design review generally supportive of Caltongate proposals, Jul 2007
Caltongate - Malcolm Fraser Architects' proposals
View looking east along Market Street with Jeffrey Street above, right:
Edinburgh's new city council leader describes latest Caltongate proposals for the site between Jeffrey St and Market St as 'grotesque and hideous...pretty gross'. It's not only Jenny Dawe that seems hot and bothered: vitriolic comments (some clearly crazy) abound on the Evening News forum as the Anti-Caltongate campaign [Save Our Old Town group] seems to gain yet more strength. It seems like the whole debate that erupted re Allan Murray Architects' proposals for this site (for EDI) has reignited. 220507
Market Street view with Zone Architects' Arches redevelopment in foreground:
Caltongate hotel image (no larger picture, apologies):
image from Mountgrange via PPS Group 290507
Caltongate development public meeting
24 May, Augustine United Church, George IV Bridge
Organiser: Old Town Community Council
New Street Edinburgh - 30 Jan 2007 Photos:
New Street Edinburgh - 4 Oct 2006 Update
Architects involved at this site
Allan Murray Architects + CDA - main section, former New St Bus Station
RHWL + Page\Park Architects - hotel
Malcolm Fraser Architects - Jeffrey Street and/or Leith Wynd building
Zone Architects - Market St Arches
Comments / information re Caltongate development welcome:
CDA - with Allan Murray Architects - competition win for New St Bus Station redevelopment announced at last: £150m scheme for Mountgrange Capital. The proposal replaces previous Gensler / Hackland & Dore Calton Gate scheme for Cuckfield
Jan 2006 News Update:
Calton Gate pedestrian bridge over Waverley Valley reportedly put on hold.
Nov 2005 News Update: New Street Edinburgh
Canongate Community Forum has, in their words (e-mail to Adrian Welch Dec05), "been set up by 2 local residents in the Canongate to raise awareness of the proposed Mountgrange Ltd plans and the City of Edinburgh Council's involvement; formed following developer Mountgrange's plans to flatten listed flats to make way for offices, modern apartments and a five-star hotel: New Street Edinburgh.
North Canongate Infant School is listed, known as Canongate Venture these days, built by Robert Wilson 1900-01. Also listed: 221-227 Canongate 1930's tenements, part of the pioneering work at 221-229 Canongate by E J MacRae.
Canongate Community Forum's Save Our Old Town campaign: www.eh8.org.uk".