Comment: We must plan for the future of the Capital

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EDINBURGH and controversial hotel developments seem to go together like salt and sauce.

And if the latest figures are anything to go buy, we should get used to many more helpings.

Visits to Edinburgh were up to 3.8 million in 2014 which is good news for a city so heavily reliant on the tourist pound.

Council chiefs believe we need more luxury hotels to capitalise to the max and continue to perform at the top of our game.

Inevitably, not everyone will agree.

Edinburgh needs lots of things, but more five-star hotels for visitors are always going to be a difficult sell.

Competing priorities – the state of the roads, overcrowded schools, overflowing bins; the list of things many people believe the council should be worrying about first goes on.

Then there is the issue of developments being built in and changing the nature of the World Heritage Site, which many undoubtedly will. The most high-profile example is clearly the Urbanist Hotels and Duddingston House Properties’ £75 million renovation of the old Royal High School at Calton Hill, which was rejected by councillors.

The debate over that decision will continue and it is far from the end of the story on that scheme.

But years of planning wrangles are as bad as doing nothing at all when the city faces such challenges.

What today’s story shows is that the demand is clearly there.

There is a market to be exploited and a joined-up strategy is required for how the city is going to maximise the opportunity.

We must plan for Edinburgh’s future while addressing the issues in the present and having respect to the Capital’s past.

Not everyone will welcome the prospect of more five-star hotels but this is a conversation which needs to be had.