Page last updated at 20:59 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Ministers reject city hotel plans

Haymarket plans
An artist's impression of the 17-storey leaf-shaped hotel

Plans for a 17-storey luxury hotel in Edinburgh have been rejected by Scottish ministers.

Councillors approved plans for the £250m futuristic building next to Haymarket railway station in June 2008.

But the Scottish government reporter said it would affect views of the castle and be out of keeping with the city's world heritage status.

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce said the decision was "an enormous setback" and the council voiced its disappointment.

The Tiger Developments proposal for the leaf-shaped hotel on a site previously considered for the Scottish Parliament building was rejected after a public inquiry.

A report setting out the reasons for the decision stated: "In urban design terms, the landmark five star hotel would fail to respect the grain and scale of the surrounding townscape, dominating the Haymarket space to the detriment of its neighbours.

This project was ready to roll, and offered £250m investment and 2,150 jobs
Graham Birse
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

It said the building "would rise above the height of the surrounding buildings and impact on key views of St Mary's Cathedral spires and Castle Rock".

"The impact on the city skyline would not preserve the setting of the world heritage site or prominent listed buildings which are landmark features within it," it said.

Following the announcement, Graham Birse of the Chamber of Commerce said: "By reaching this conclusion ministers have done nothing to encourage sustainable development in our capital city at a time when the longest recession in living memory is making deep and painful inroads into our economy.

"This project was ready to roll, and offered £250m investment, 2,150 jobs and a five star hotel brand new to Edinburgh in Intercontinental Hotels.

"It is an enormous set-back to the city's recovery and slap in the face to the efforts that went into delivering this project locally."

The council's planning convener, Cllr Jim Lowrie, also described it as "disappointing".

But he added: "That said, we believe that the site remains a major development opportunity for the city and, indeed, the reporter was supportive of the proposed uses and the need for a five star hotel in the area.

"What is critical here is that we arrive at a solution for this site - addressing the Reporter's concerns to create a quality development that can benefit the city in wider economic terms."

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