Developers under fire over St Andrew Square plans

An artist's impression of the modernist fa�ade proposed for the development on the former Scottish Provident site. Picture: comp
An artist's impression of the modernist fa�ade proposed for the development on the former Scottish Provident site. Picture: comp
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HERITAGE chiefs have blasted developers behind a new shopping centre after they ditched plans to rebuild a city landmark.

The old Scottish Provident building in St Andrew Square has been bulldozed to make way for a £75 million new complex, which will also include offices and flats.

Under their original planning application, developers Standard Life Investments and Peveril Securities were expected to re-use parts of the historic B-listed building in the new block’s façade.

But now that the site has been levelled, a fresh blueprint has been lodged featuring an entirely new modernist frontage with limestone columns and large windows offering views out towards the Forth.

The Cockburn Association today said that had that been the original idea, planning permission would never have been granted in the first place.

Marion Williams, director of the heritage watchdog, said: “They are continually moving the goalposts. This is planning by attrition.

“The building is a cuckoo in the nest. Everything about it is wrong. It threatens the uniqueness which gives the area a World Heritage Site status.”

Standard Life wouldn’t explain why the plans had changed, but the new application insists that the old façade was “at odds” with the need for big businesses to offer well-lit offices while allowing staff to “enjoy views”.

It said it would revert back to the original plans if the new ones were knocked back.

A spokesman for the insurance giant said: “Our additional planning application for St Andrew Square, which includes a revised design for part of the façade, reflects our ambition to deliver the best possible high quality building to suit the location.

“If this application is unsuccessful we will implement the existing consent.”

John Fleming, vice-chairman of the Cockburn Association, called for a rethink, insisting that the fresh designs wouldn’t fit into the surrounding architecture in St Andrew Square.

He said: “The whole site should be reviewed again. It is not a bad building but pays no regard whatsoever to surrounding buildings.”

The heritage chiefs have political backing in the shape of SNP city centre councillor Alasdair Rankin, who pledged to make a case to members of the planning committee.

He admitted it was “rather late in the day”, but said: “It doesn’t seem to be in any obvious keeping with the surrounding buildings and I would like to see it adapted.”

Award-winning architect Malcolm Fraser said he was hurt by the loss of the 1960s building and accused developers of failing to care about the Capital.

He said: “The real concern here is that a listed building has been demolished. We should be very concerned that the planners have listened to lobbying by the developers, but not to those who care for the heritage of Edinburgh.”