Music centre at Royal High is back on the cards - Kevin Buckle

With the future of the Old Royal High School back for discussion with the council next month, the proposed music school finally showed its hand and no doubt thinks it holds all four aces.

Saturday, 11th September 2021, 8:00 am
Artist's impression of the new music centre at Royal High

Certainly with planning already agreed, albeit for a different proposal, the undoubted support of the council, more public access and with funds, it would appear, in place, it will be a hard offer to beat.

This will partly be the problem, in that with talk from council officials of much interest to other parties, if nothing materialises it will show that actually it is considered a done deal and nothing worth the time and money of other developers to pursue.

Obviously it would be good to have other options, especially with the music school bid being so intrusive to the building, as was pointed out by the Reporters during the hotel’s appeal.

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There are some people I know who were by no means in support of a six-star hotel who were horrified at the works to be carried out and amazed it was passed by council with very little debate.

They will be happy if the school hasn’t fallen down after the substantial works are complete.

There is also the worry that what is said to secure a deal and what is done are two very different things. Earlier this year the council promised their choice of custodians for the Tron Kirk would have the building back open quickly, but nothing has materialised, with the only reason offered when I asked was that people on both sides had been on holiday.

My annoyance at the wasted opportunity in King’s Stables Road is well documented, made worse by the fact that the council completely understood that anybody could build student flats and a hotel there and it was the introduction of an arts facility and interesting retail that would make the development.

As of last week when I walked by, all the retail and hospitality space remained empty and, of course, there is no arts facility. All of this fell by the wayside, I should add, long before the pandemic.

It is understandable, therefore, that there are some folk with doubts as to how much proposed by the music school will actually happen.

Maybe most importantly there is an elephant in the room that really has to be addressed and that is that Edinburgh doesn’t need a music school of this nature, given it already has a state-maintained music school that is extremely well thought of.

At the very least it is the job of Edinburgh Council, not the music school developers, to explain what the future is for the City of Edinburgh Music School and how they intend to make sure this well established and successful school does not suffer on the whim of the council.

Maybe there is another developer out there keeping their cards close to their chest that will be able to rival the music school bid, but if so, they will need to have a straight flush.