The Dome's glass roof plan shattered as Edinburgh planners recommend it's turned down
Ambitious plans to give an Edinburgh landmark a facelift are set to be thrown out after council officials ruled the development would be ‘harmful to the character’ of the New Town.
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Capital-based property management company Caledonian Heritable applied to Edinburgh City Council in October for permission to install a glass roof at the back of the category A-listed Dome at 14 George Street.
The building currently hosts Why Not Nightclub, The Dome Bar and Restaurant, and Rose Street Garden, a bar with a limited food menu.
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The glass canopy, which would be retractable for the Capital’s days of sunshine, would cover the rear of the building on Rose Street, currently occupied by the Rose Street Garden, with the developers aiming to create ‘a unique dining experience’.
A design statement, submitted by Duddingston Road-based architects Format Design on behalf of Caledonian Heritable, reads: “The idea for the present proposal has been driven by the need to strengthen the revenue stream to cover exceptional running costs, to provide a more socially distant environment in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic, and to provide a very high quality environment with a permanent and resilient cover to customers within the external terrace area.
“The applicant needs something which will be architecturally positive in order to uphold the very high standards set by The Dome, and which have made it a top destination.
“The tables are presently protected by several large square canvas parasols, but these are not particularly effective at guaranteeing an acceptable environment for customers, and they do not reflect the ‘quality’ that The Dome aspires to.”
However, Historic Environment Scotland has formally objected to the plans, saying: “We object to the application because the proposals would result in the loss of the carefully designed relationship between the building’s prominent apsidal end, its sunken courtyard with flanking pavilions and the Rose Street railings and gatepiers.
“This loss would have a significant, detrimental impact on the special interest, character and appearance of the category A listed building, specifically designed to address Rose Street.”
Council planners are similarly unimpressed by the proposals, and ahead of a development management committee meeting on Wednesday September 22, council officers have written to councillors, urging them to reject the plans.
A report, sent to councillors, reads: “The proposal would be harmful to the character and setting of the listed building and would be harmful to the character and appearance of the conservation area.
“Furthermore, the proposal does not comply with policies Env 3, Env 4 and Env6 of the Edinburgh Local Development plan or the council’s Listed Building and Conservation Area Guidance which supports these policies.
“The proposal therefore does not comply with the Development Plan. There are no material considerations that outweigh these conclusions.”
The Dome stands on the site of the old Physicians’ Hall, which was built in 1775 but largely demolished in 1844 when the Commercial Bank of Scotland acquired the site.
The facade, featuring Georgian columns, was kept and the eponymous dome was constructed behind it.
Due to several mergers, the site was eventually acquired by The Royal Bank of Scotland, which sold the building to Caledonian Heritable in 1993, which opened The Dome Bar and Restaurant in 1996.