Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 12:24 UK

Edinburgh development curb urged

Edinburgh skyline
The head of Unesco is concerned about the future of Edinburgh's skyline

Major developments should be put on hold until investigations into Edinburgh's World Heritage status are completed, the head of Unesco warned.

Inspectors are to visit the capital in November to conduct their inquiry.

A report will then recommend whether the city should be placed on the body's list of endangered sites.

Unesco said no more decisions on key projects should be taken until that process, which could see Edinburgh's World Heritage status lost, concludes.

The capital received World Heritage status in 1995 but there have been concerns about the impact major developments are having on the city's historic skyline.

Buildings demolished

The investigation was triggered in the main by the city council's decision to approve the Caltongate scheme, despite receiving hundreds of complaints.

The 300m project involves the demolition of two listed buildings to make way for a five-star hotel.

Unesco director-general, Koichiro Matsuura, said: "I am a bit concerned about the Caltongate development. I saw for myself the site of the development during my tour and was told not to worry too much about the impact it will have, but the big concern will be how it affects the historic skyline.

"Modern high-rises should not be built in historic city centres or in areas where they would have a significant impact.

"Nothing else should be decided on these schemes until inspectors have visited and reported back."

A spokesman for Mountgrange, Caltongate's developer, said it did not support unnecessary delays in planning decisions that hold up major investments.

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