Former RBS New Town site at centre of '˜biggest sale in decade'

The former New Town Royal Bank of Scotland's site on Dundas Street is now for sale after controversial plans by the bank to demolish and redevelop the land were withdrawn in August.

Saturday, 6th October 2018, 6:00 am
An artists impression of possible development of the RBS office site on Dundas Street in the New Town. Picture: Contributed

Branded “New Town North”, the 5.89 acre plot is the largest site to be sold in the city centre for more than a decade and is expected to attract interest from both UK and international developers.

The site is being marketed as a premium development and a “rare opportunity” to create a new “quarter” for the city and is expected to appeal to development opportunities including residential, build to rent housing, hotels, offices and leisure.

A master plan has already been developed for over 409,000 sq ft of development, with landscaping and pedestrian-friendly public spaces included.

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There are also more than 228,000 sq ft of existing office and data centre buildings already on site, capable of being refurbished or reused.

An RBS spokesperson said: “We are excited by the marketing launch of New Town North, which is an exceptional opportunity to redefine this site as a striking new neighbourhood in Edinburgh.

“We expect to attract global interest and have designed our marketing campaign to ensure that the site attracts the consideration which it merits.”

James Thomson of marketing agents Cushman and Wakefield added: “Opportunities to complement a design icon are very rare.

“New Town North will be the natural extension of Edinburgh’s New Town, and a fantastic chance to create a premium development in the city centre. We are looking forward to seeing the market’s creativity at work.”

The original proposals by RBS, in 2016, to demolish the office space for up to 2,000 people drew hundreds of objections with concerns raised about the impact it would have on local business as well as heritage worries over the scale of the new buildings.

The bank sought permission to demolish the buildings to make way for a residential-led development of up to 400 flats.

Objectors collected around 750 signatures on a petition against the development and the proposals attracted more than 450 comments on the council’s planning website.

But in early August this year, RBS released a statement outlining plans to sell on the site.

They said at the time as they were “not ultimately intending to develop the site” themselves, it would be “more appropriate” for the final developer to submit their own more detailed planning application and agree the design detail with the council directly.

In 1978 RBS commissioned their first building on site, the office and data centre at 34 Fettes Row, with their final development on the site completed in 2009.

RBS relocated staff from the site last year to its purpose-built headquarters in Gogarburn.

Prior to RBS the development site has also had a myriad of uses including as a Victorian water theme park complete with a rowing machine capable of seating up to 60 people and a giant see-saw, as well as being home to St Bernard’s Football Club and a greyhound race track.