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Edinburgh concert hall strikes a discordant note as plans scaled back

August 20 2020

Edinburgh concert hall strikes a discordant note as plans scaled back

A high-profile planned concert venue in Edinburgh is to be significantly downsized amid a dispute with their New Town neighbours.

Edinburgh St James, developer of the nearby St James Centre, thwarted the original David Chipperfield plans, arguing that it was too overbearing- forcing Impact Scotland, the charitable trust behind the plans, to go back to the drawing board.

The scaled-back vision will shrink the capacity of the main hall below 1,000 as originally mooted while other elements such as a cafe-bar, rehearsal rooms and workshops could be dropped entirely.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “The design is currently at a very early stage and we look forward to consulting stakeholders as it develops and publicising it in advance of going to planning early next year.

"We are still considering several design iterations, all of which keep the hall’s maximum capacity as close to 1,000 as is possible.

“To do this and meet the requirement to reduce the size of the whole building as agreed in mediation, means we will regrettably have to lose other aspects of the building, principally the studio."

As a consequence of these machinations the proposed opening date has been pushed back four years to 2025. 


The Golden Turd
#1 Posted by The Golden Turd on 20 Aug 2020 at 14:27 PM
A bit effing rich of St James developer to accuse this of being 'overbearing'?!
Jamie Brown
#2 Posted by Jamie Brown on 20 Aug 2020 at 14:38 PM
I find that really disappointing. Overbearing? Presumably the twirly golden hotel is still ok?
#3 Posted by CannyKen on 20 Aug 2020 at 15:23 PM
Laughable. The St James developer must have friends in high places to have had this ludicrous objection taken seriously.
#4 Posted by monkey9000 on 20 Aug 2020 at 15:55 PM
If the Chipperfield Scheme was "overbearing" then what do you call the Golden Jobby Hotel... *****?
Neil McAllister
#5 Posted by Neil McAllister on 20 Aug 2020 at 16:37 PM
What I don't understand is what rights St James have - as far as I understand it, full consents have been granted. I thought there was no third party right of appeal - or is it that they need some favour/wayleave etc. from Edinburgh St James who therefore have them over a barrel?
Randall Sloan
#6 Posted by Randall Sloan on 20 Aug 2020 at 16:55 PM
This is unfortunate for several reasons, but not entirely surprising. The external composition of this scheme, when viewed along the George St axis was quite charming, but given the size of the site and complexities of getting materials in etc, this design does feel like it was pushing it to say the least. One wonders, if dear old Chippy just drew a sketch of what he wanted it to look like from the outside, then had his minions try and cram the brief into that overall form. So in that respect the fact it may need to shrink or be re-thought slightly does not surprise me. However, for the St James Centre people to turn around and accuse this of being overbearing reaks so highly of hypocracy I've nearly been overcome by the smell...the smell of faeces, to be precise.
#7 Posted by StyleCouncil on 20 Aug 2020 at 19:22 PM
Disappointing. I was relying on the Chipper building hiding the crass orange turd at St James.
Might be relevant/ interesting if this storey had more context what was the process that forced the change. It has planning non?
Urban Realm
#8 Posted by Urban Realm on 20 Aug 2020 at 19:34 PM
Absolutely. Edinburgh St James launched a legal challenge last year in the form of a judicial review on the grounds that 'City of Edinburgh Council had failed to follow proper procedures in granting the planning consent'.

Negotiations then began, mediated by the City of Edinburgh Council, at which St James agreed to dismiss their legal action on condition of a redesign and fresh planning application.
#9 Posted by Inahuf on 20 Aug 2020 at 20:01 PM
Evidence of the inverted world we live in. Once cultural & public institutions shon on the skyline, others were largely secondary. Now housing and private interests beat all others to submission. How that twirly turd can accuse the concert hall is devaluing their investment is beyond me. Must be down to land sale restrictions winning over sense.
town planner
#10 Posted by town planner on 20 Aug 2020 at 20:28 PM
This is a very poor outcome, and sadly not with out precedent in Edinburgh. I'm thinking of the original Richard Murphy proposal for a Filmhouse in Festival Square, thrown out after the commercial concerns of the Sheraton were given priority.

Couple of questions...

1. Why are commercial interests of a shopping centre or hotel allowed to trump the greater interests of Edinburgh in the planning system?

2. How depleted does the ambition for the scheme have to be become, before we conclude we might actually be better off building it elsewhere? Another city centre location, or say Granton?

#11 Posted by DEMOLITION MAN on 21 Aug 2020 at 09:48 AM
John Irvine
#12 Posted by John Irvine on 21 Aug 2020 at 12:22 PM
Ignore the St James' debate and look at the image and previous proposals. They were completely out of scale with the surroundings. That is the story.
Stevie Steve
#13 Posted by Stevie Steve on 24 Aug 2020 at 13:37 PM
What a shame. Why wasn't this more public? - That an aggressive money grabbing developer has forced a new public concert hall to scale back their building in order to what, preserve views out of the upper stories of their jobby hotel? What a joke.

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