Hotel developers raise safety fears over Edinburgh's first concert hall for 100 years

The developers behind a controversial new five-star hotel have escalated a campaign against Edinburgh's first new concert hall for 100 years by claiming the safety of its guests and shoppers will be put at risk if the venue is allowed to be built on its doorstep.

Thursday, 6th December 2018, 9:12 am
Updated Thursday, 6th December 2018, 9:25 am

Real estate giants Henderson says its guests will also be “disturbed” by articulated lorries bringing equipment and instruments in and out of the new Impact Centre on St Andrew Square.

The firm has already urged local residents to object to the proposed concert hall because of its height – even though the luxury hotel will be higher.

Henderson, which has also hit out at the prospect of a concert hall made of concrete being built on the doorstep of the W Hotel development, has written to every councillor in the city warning them of the prospect of the new venue “damaging” their project.

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An artists impressions of The Impact Centre  the proposed concert hall behind Royal Bank of Scotlands Dundas House headquarters in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. Picture: HayesDavidson

Development director Martin Perry, has told them that approving the £45 million venue – which already has the backing of the UK and Scottish governments and the city council – would be a “huge and damaging error”.

He sent the letter ahead of a visit by councillors to view the latest plans for the concert hall, which has been designed by one of Britain’s leading architects, David Chipperfield.

Plans for a 1,000-capacity venue, earmarked for a sitebehind the Royal Bank of Scotland’s historic home, Dundas House, were first revealed in November 2016. However, a campaign against the proposals has been waged by Henderson since detailed plans were published in August.

Mr Perry insists he “supports the principle” of building a new concert hall on the site, but is demanding it be scaled back. The concert hall will provide a permanent home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a new venue for the Edinburgh International Festival.

The concert hall, which will also be made suitable for classic, pop, rock, folk, jazz, electronica and world music acts, is set to open in 2021, the year after the new St James development is due to be finished.

Mr Perry claims his company’s efforts to deliver a “safe and attractive environment” for its expected 22 million customers were at risk by the concert hall development.

He added: Impact Scotland’s transport statement includes provisionfor articulated vehicles to the front from St Andrew Square and other servicing vehicles to Elder Street. We’re extremely concerned as to the disturbance to the residential and hotel amenity as all servicing for Multrees Walk and Edinburgh St James are underground.

“The concert hall will no doubt be at its very busiest when Edinburgh’s summer festivals are in full swing. This will also be (alongside Christmas) perhaps the busiest period at the St James development and Multrees Walk.

“To have articulated vehicles coming to service the concert hall in a largely pedestrian environment that has not been planned to accommodate them seems to be clearly at odds with the council’s objectives of creating living streets in which pedestrians have priority. We can’t see how this can be achieved safely.”
A spokeswoman for Impact Scotland, the charitable trust pursuing the venue project, said: “We were delighted to welcome councillors to a briefing on the exciting plans for Edinburgh’s new concert hall. Our planning application is with the council following extensive consultation. We wish to allow the due process to take place and will continue to consult with the authorities in the appropriate manner.”