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Caltongate debate continues

January 10 2007

Caltongate debate continues
David Page and Malcolm Fraser are among the architects who will be working alongside Allan Murray on the design of the key buildings that will occupy Edinburgh’s Caltongate site. The controversial scheme received outline approval in October, and the design team are now keen to press on with design development. Malcolm Fraser will design a modest but significant building that turns the corner of Jeffries Street and provides a platform for the insertion of a new set of stairs directly onto Market Street. Page/Park is working on the design of a new five-star hotel that will sit directly on the Canongate and extend back into the site to form a major part of the frontage to a new public square. There are two features of the scheme that have attracted criticism: the decision to demolish an existing tenement block on Canongate to provide new pedestrian access onto the Royal Mile through a new public square on New Street, and the proposal to build a new office block with a large floor plate. The office floor plate is seen as being out of character with the urban grain of the surrounding area. Allan Murray, the master planner for the scheme, rejects these criticism, arguing that the proposal is in line with many Victorian improvement schemes, such as Cockburn Street, which at the time cut across the existing urban grain. He says the developer is keen to create a high-quality public realm and that the new hotel proposed for the area will stimulate the local economy.

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