Fresh bid to develop former RBS site in Edinburgh's New Town

Developers have not yet revealed how many homes and offices they want to build on the site.
Developers have not yet revealed how many homes and offices they want to build on the site.
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The huge former Royal Bank of Scotland campus in the New Town is set to become the Capital’s first new city-centre neighbourhood in a generation under the latest plans for the site.

Previous proposals which included up to 400 new homes on the site in Dundas Street were abandoned amid opposition from nearby residents.

But now the new owners of the land have taken the first step towards putting forward a planning application for homes, offices, a hotel, shops and health facilities.

European real estate firm Orion Capital and Edinburgh property company Ediston say they plan a “fresh approach” to the 5.89 acre RBS site, but have not yet indicated how many homes and offices they are proposing.

And residents said they still had concerns about the impact the project would have in terms of possible subsidence in neighbouring streets and the scale of the development.

RBS shut the campus and relocated staff to Gogarburn a few years ago. Initially the bank was seeking permission to redevelop the site, but there was a 750-name petition against the plans and Historic Environment Scotland objected to the scale and layout of the development, arguing it would have an adverse impact on the World Heritage Site. The bank announced in August 2018 it had decided to sell the site.

Ross McNulty, development director for Ediston, said the details of the new proposals were still being finalised.

But he said: “We are acutely aware that this site sits at the fringe of the World Heritage Site and our ambitions are to create a brand new quarter that extends and enhances the core of Edinburgh’s New Town.

“We’re determined that this will be a world-class addition to the city, and one of the best places in Edinburgh to live, work and come together.”

He said they had been having talks with local residents and other groups about the site.

“We are particularly keen to work with local groups in our design of green space, as our proposals are being framed with a strong concept of openness. We believe it is important that people can walk and cycle through this development in order to create a place that works for everyone.”

He said the main concerns raised at meetings with residents had been fears about subsidence, parking and traffic flow, and the scale and shape of the scheme.

He said: “They wanted to make sure whatever we are doing doesn’t undermine the structural integrity of existing properties and I will be giving them that assurance.”

And he said more information on the plans should be available over the next couple of months.

Public exhibitions are planned for September 11 and October 17 at Broughton St Mary’s Church, Bellevue Crescent.

A spokeswoman for the residents’ Fettes Row and Royal Crescent Association said: “We have had two meetings with Ediston and we put forward our concerns about problems of subsidence and the possible damage to houses from deep piling as well as what was said last time about the height.”