RHS predictions have come back to haunt us - Kevin Buckle
As John points out the plans had always been more about stopping the six-star hotel originally planned for the site rather than creating a centre of musical excellence and with that job done the realities of restoring and maintaining the building based on a donation from the Dunard Fund rather than having the steady income stream of a hotel have led to the inevitable axing of most of the plans that led to The Royal High School Preservation Trust being granted the lease.
The danger signs were there for all to see from the start, with the music school plans to create a new entrance being risky at best and potentially completely disastrous both physically and financially.
Work starts next month on the hotels planned for Princes Street, even though costs have increased because realistically the potential for even a considerable increase is factored in when judging the viability of these ventures.
The RHSPT, however, early on started talking about public funding when the entire point of the site being a hotel was that it would be no drain on the public purse and would in fact create jobs and add a considerable economic benefit, especially to local businesses.
Just over a year ago the headline for my column after it had been announced that costs had dramatically increased and the project would take four years was “Things Can Only Get Worse For Music Centre”. The column predicts this is just the start of their woes for all the obvious reasons that have since come to pass. https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/things-can-only-get-worse-for-music-centre-kevin-buckle-4122864
It is being claimed there will now be even greater public access, though to what it is unclear which will certainly be true if there isn’t a school there.
However, the proposed hotel had public bars, restaurants and a music venue that would all have been open to the public on a daily basis.
What is often overlooked is that it was the council’s idea to have a hotel there. They looked at many options including everything from student accommodation to a care home and by far the best option was a hotel. It was on that basis that the proposed hotel won the competition for the lease.
What the very same council that wanted a hotel then did was at first narrowly refuse planning permission and then once the music school idea was on the scene unanimously refuse planning for a revision that took all the previous objections into account.
A final irony is that the hotel developers were constantly accused of dodgy dealings over their lease, none of which were ever substantiated, while the RHSPT with the ink barely dry on their lease have announced they can not deliver what they promised.
John predicts what will happen eventually in his column, but I would prefer just say what should happen.
The RHSPT should immediately give up their lease and the council should go back to the only people who have produced a viable plan for the building and ask them to build a hotel.