Dramatic new plans for historic Donaldson’s School

An artist's impression of the new development.
An artist's impression of the new development.
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DRAMATIC new images have been unveiled showcasing the planned redevelopment of Donaldson’s School into luxury apartments.

The ambitious proposals would see the historic structure restored, plus the creation of a housing crescent overlooking the West Coates site – complete with stunning views of the William Playfair-designed school building.

A bedroom overlooks the historic college building in this artist's impression

A bedroom overlooks the historic college building in this artist's impression

Developers are now keen to press ahead with work on the complex, which has been empty for around eight years.

A planning application by restoration specialists City & Country would transform the A-listed building into 117 residential homes, while also converting two gatehouses.

Meanwhile, Cala Homes is seeking to create a split crescent of 84 new-build apartments to the north of the Gothic building, which is one of the city’s most recognisable pieces of architecture.

Both have insisted the latest bid to redevelop the site will show greater respect to the building and its surroundings than previous failed attempts, protecting many of Donaldson’s original features such as fireplaces, cornices and staircases.

Helen Moore, managing 
director of City & Country, said it was “vitally important” that a viable new use was found for the structure.

She said: “This is a truly magnificent building in a World Heritage Site, so it is absolutely right that such time and effort has gone into the public consultation.

“Having listened carefully to extensive feedback we are confident that our plans provide the best possible solution to safeguard the iconic Playfair building, while sensitively adding a new layer of history to the site. After much work, we hope our plans will be approved, allowing the next positive chapter in the life of the Playfair building and for the Donaldson’s site to be realised.”

Designed and built by city architect William Playfair in 1850, Donaldson’s housed a specialist school for deaf children until 2008, when the school was relocated to Linlithgow.

Under the new plans, every floor of the building will be turned into one, two or three-bed apartments, including the basement and attic, with all the new properties boasting panoramic views of the 
Donaldson’s building and its 17-acre grounds.

David McGrath, Managing Director of Cala Homes (East) said: “Throughout the process we have liaised closely with planners and with other departments.

“It has been reassuring that they have been so committed to seeing this site restored. We are excited to be submitting our final plans after a detailed and lengthy process. Now we look forward to the chance to deliver what would be a truly outstanding addition to a very special location.”

The plans will go before councillors later this year.