CRITICS of plans to turn one of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings into a luxury hotel insist significant public opposition remains despite a poll claiming huge support of the scheme.
Almost 5000 people were quizzed about the proposals for the old Royal High School on Calton Hill.
The survey claimed 93 per cent agreed a hotel is an appropriate use for the site and 92 per cent backed the design put forward by Duddingston House Properties, which includes two Inca terrace-style, six-storey extensions, one on either side of the historic former school.
It was carried out by respected consultant Scott Porter Research & Marketing, which has done work for the likes of the NHS and Coca-Cola.
Marion Williams, director of the Cockburn Association, said: “I would love to find out who was interviewed for their survey. It is so contrary to everything we are experiencing.
“We don’t go out of our way to find people who want to moan – on many of developments, we also have people who say ‘This is OK, what are you complaining about?’
“But on this one, you could count on one hand the number of people saying that.”
She said there had been meetings where 200 or 300 people turned up to object to the plans and she could not understand the level of support claimed in the poll.
“I don’t know who these people are. I would love to know how they were approached and how the conversations went.
“The figures in this survey don’t make sense, they’re too extreme. If the developers come to the planning meeting and say there is 93 per cent support, I think that will be disingenuous.”
She said the fact there were so many hotels and offices in the vicinity meant there were not the same number of local residents objecting as in some planning cases.
“It tends to be more conservation-minded people who are determined we must not lose such a spectacular piece of architectural heritage,” she said.
Ian Mowat, chairman of the New Town Community Council, said none of the people he had discussed the development with had been in favour.
“People feel strongly about this,” he said. “Fundamentally we consider the wings of the hotel will dwarf the building and take away from the setting. It would irrevocably mar one of the finest views in Edinburgh.
“The kind of person who would come to such a luxury hotel is probably the kind of person who would be appalled to feel they were harming Edinburgh’s heritage. The reason you come to Edinburgh is that wonderful sight.”