Campaign calls for Edinburgh’s Virgin Hotel to be scrapped

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CAMPAIGNERS are calling on the city council to withdraw planning permission for the new Virgin Hotel after a report revealed it will reduce daylight to parts of the neighbouring Central Library by as much as 82 per cent.

Richard Branson visited the Capital this week to mark the start of work on the 225-bedroom venture which will include redevelopment of India Buildings in Victoria Street and a new-build development on a gap site in the Cowgate.

There have been calls to scrap the development

There have been calls to scrap the development

But a new daylight impact assessment commissioned by the council found the loss of light at four out of five levels of the library exceeded Building Research Establishment (BRE) guidelines, which say it should be no more than 20 per cent.

The report said the ground floor on George IV Bridge would suffer only an 8 per cent reduction. But the mezzanine level B1/B2, which houses the music library, faces a 22 per cent reduction; level B3, the Edinburgh and Scottish collections, 31 per cent; and level B4, currently offices, 82 per cent.

Neil Simpson of campaign group Let There Be Light Edinburgh said the daylight assessment presented by the developers when they were granted planning consent compared the impact of the hotel with that of a tenement which was demolished in the 1950s.

“They were comparing the Virgin Hotel with a building that doesn’t exist. Daylight impact assessments are meant to illustrate the noticeable impact of reduced daylight by a development, which means comparing it with the existing situation.” Mr Simpson said a little-used part of planning law allowed councils to rescind planning permission after it was granted.

“We are calling on the administration to rescind this. We believe there was misleading information from the developers on the effect on daylight for the library.”

Green councillor Claire Miller said the situation looked bad for the original planning decision. “The report sets out how the developer could improve reflected light into the library so at the very least, that needs to be agreed as a way forward.”

At the weekend, big-name writers including Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith, Jackie Kay and John Byrne, criticised the council for giving consent to the Virgin Hotel.

A council spokeswoman said: “There are no known grounds to revoke permission for this development.”

A spokesman for the development said matters had been settled in a court case last year when a challenge was rejected.

“The development is now well underway and we will work with the council to achieve any mitigation measures that are felt appropriate.”

Let There Be Light is holding a public meeting at Central Hall, Tollcross, tomorrow at 7pm.