LETTERS: St James development hotel plan is world class

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Have your say

A s the planning consultant working on the Edinburgh St James development I think it is important to 
 clarify one of the issues mentioned in your report (‘Will the ribbon hotel plan end up unravelling?’, News, August 11) .

The article is fair and balanced, but the article refers to “a 20-metre increase in height as well as width of the building”. This isn’t actually the case.

The outline permission that was granted for the development in 2009 did include Design Principles which stated “the roofscape shall contain feature elements that articulate the skyline”. These feature elements were permitted to rise above the maximum height indicated at outline stage. Feature elements are defined as including “lift and stair over-runs and pop-ups, lanterns, cupolas, skylights, domical roofs, and tower element rooftops . . . terraces” and/or “other vertical features to create richness”.

This has been the agreed position in relation to the proposal since 2009 and the height of the spiral roof feature as proposed by Jestico and Whiles, the hotel architects, is in accordance with the original 2009 decision.

I would not want readers of the Evening News to have the wrong impression about the proposals, so I am happy to clarify this point.

What is fully accepted is that the upper levels of the proposal are wider than the initial 2009 decision. However, I should stress that the application is “substantially in accordance” with the outline consent. Indeed, the planning application would not have progressed to a planning committee report had this not been the case.

There are very good reasons for this change. Rather than private bedrooms the current proposals are creating upper terraces accessible to the public that will arguably give the hotel one of the country’s best restaurant and function spaces. In order to create that space the development is slightly wider at the upper levels. However, this has been carefully designed to minimise the impact on views of the hotel.

Concerns have been raised in the planning report about the view from Calton Hill, but I have to stress that these proposals are changing the views from Calton Hill and not taking the views away. In doing so the whole vista from Calton Hill will be improved with the removal of the original St James Centre.

Obviously this is ultimately a matter for the planning committee to decide upon, but TH Real Estate has gone to great lengths to recruit a world class architect to produce a genuinely world class new building to complement the new Edinburgh St James galleria masterplan. I can only commend the proposals to your readers and to the planning committee.

Richard Slipper, senior director, GVA James Barr

Tourist tax would boost city income

I agree with Helen Martin’s column piece about tourists in Edinburgh (‘Let tourists help with city upkeep’, News, August 10).

I have just received a receipt for a holiday in Rome and there is a 4 euro city tax per person per day on my hotel bill. I have no problem about paying this. I am struggling to understand why it is not charged in Edinburgh. Every European country does it.

The council is cutting services all over the place, so this is a normal way to receive a bounty for the coffers. What is their problem?

A Forrest, Bellevue Road, Edinburgh

Stuart’s death alert 
for asthma sufferers

readers may have been shocked to hear of the death of Stuart Baggs, former star of The Apprentice, to an asthma attack at the age of 27. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at such a heartbreaking time.

Many people don’t realise how serious asthma is, yet every ten seconds someone in the UK is having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack and three people die from asthma every day.

I can’t stress enough how important it is that the one in 11 people with asthma in the UK recognise the early warning signs of an asthma attack and know what to do when their symptoms are getting worse.

Every person with asthma should have a written asthma action plan which helps them deal with worsening symptoms and reminds them what to do in an emergency.

Without one, people are four times more likely to be admitted to hospital for their asthma.

Anyone concerned about their asthma can call the Asthma UK Helpline on 0300-222 5800 to speak to a specialist nurse or visit www.asthma.org.uk for more information or to download a written asthma action plan.

Dr Samantha Walker, deputy chief executive, Asthma UK

Hannan oversteps the mark on Ruth Davidson

I was appalled to read comments made by your columnist and proud SNP member Martin Hannan (News, August 11).

In his piece headlined ‘We must send her home tae think again’ – in which he refers to Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson standing for MSP in Edinburgh next year – he reaches an astonishing conclusion.

“Ruth Davidson is not welcome here. She is not welcome anywhere in civilised Scottish society.”

The Edinburgh I know is – and always has been – a welcoming city. It is already Ms Davidson’s home and she works here.

Mr Hannan’s comments clearly show the Nationalists are rattled at having someone of her profile contesting the Edinburgh Central seat. But it also reveals a worryingly nasty side of the party of government in Scotland.

Far from believing in democracy, let alone respecting the majority of people in Edinburgh who voted No, it seems Mr Hannan would rather shut down freedom of speech and the views of 500,000 Scottish voters.

Disagree with other people’s political views by all means, but this kind of attitude belongs more in North Korea.

Diana Mackenzie, Bruntsfield