Concerns raised over heavy goods lorries using busy Edinburgh shopping street for new concert hall

Heavy good vehicles could travel down a new busy shopping street as proposals for a city centre concert hall will be examined by councillors.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 4th April 2019, 7:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th April 2019, 7:53 pm
An artist's impression of The Impact Centre,  the proposed concert hall behind Royal Bank of Scotland's Dundas House headquarters in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. Pic: Hayes Davidson
An artist's impression of The Impact Centre, the proposed concert hall behind Royal Bank of Scotland's Dundas House headquarters in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. Pic: Hayes Davidson

Updated plans for the first concert hall to be built in the Capital for 100 years, the Impact Centre, have been submitted to planners and will be determined later this month.

The developers, Impact Scotland, said the £45m plans are largely uncharged from the original submission - but daylight and privacy concerns have been addressed through the tweaked proposals.

The management of the St James Centre have previously spoken out about traffic concerns of the Impact Centre. Martin Perry, director of development for Edinburgh St James, warned councillors that granting permission for the Impact Centre would be a “huge and damaging error”.

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He added: “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 dedicated service vehicle route will be provided beneath the St James development. It is thought that discussions over shared use of the underground route were fruitless. Impact Scotland said discussions were continuing between the two parties.

An updated transport statement shows that up to one HGV for goods and one HGV for instruments for performers could access the Impact Centre along Elder Street every day - which will form part of the new St James Centre, running between Multrees Walk and the new retail development. Articulated lorries could also be required to snake around the horseshoe driveway of the Dundas House RBS branch on St Andrew Square.

The statement adds: “Elder Street is acknowledged as a sensitive location in terms of high pedestrian flows that cross this road, however the anticipated low frequency of deliveries via Elder Street means the impact at this location is also considered to be negligible.”

In a letter to the city council, Richard Price, planning convener of new Town and Broughton Community Council, said: “Our strong preference would be to ensure that there is sufficient hard-standing at the rear of the new building to allow for waste removal and deliveries - but more importantly, adequate access for delivery vans with access from the extension of Elder Street to the square in the new Edinburgh St James development.

“Although this should be a predominantly pedestrian area, we would hope that arrangements could be agreed to provide access to the new concert hall by this route.”

Impact Scotland said that on a typical performance day, each project will need a single 7.5 tonne vehicle for deliveries and another for uplifts. On “exceptional occasions”, visiting orchestras “may require access to the site with a 16.5m articulated vehicle” - which are “likely to exit via Elder Street”.

A spokeswoman from Impact Scotland, said: “We are looking forward to presenting our plans for the concert hall to councillors later this month. If approved, this is an opportunity to create a world class venue for the people of Edinburgh, bringing different kinds of music, audiences, performers, education, rehearsal and recording all under one roof.

“We made very minor design changes to the façade of the building and to address amenity issues such as daylight and privacy in respect of the neighbouring tenement. These are simply part of the ongoing design development and refinement process.”