Comment: Music school ahead in old Royal High battle

The future of the old Royal High has certainly stirred passions.

Tuesday, 20th June 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th June 2017, 2:55 pm
The Perfect Harmony campaign supports plans for a music school in the Old Royal High School. Pic: Neil Hanna

The battle to redevelop the crumbling building represents a remarkable change of fortunes for one of our architectural treasures. For many years no one was interested, so the emergence of two rival bidders willing to invest the millions needed to save it has to be welcomed.

Although today’s poll is based on a relatively small sample of 500 people, it has been carried out by an internationally respected company (commissioned by supporters of the music school bid). But it’s findings should not surprise anyone who has followed the saga.

It’s supporters have run an impressive campaign based on keeping the building as a centre for education and preserving the original building - without the need for the ‘ugly’ wings the hotel would require.

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A luxury hotel is a harder sell, especially when so many already feel tourism is taking over too much of the city. It is easy to dismiss the benefits of an ‘elite’ hotel, but visitors who pay up to £2000 a night tend to spend a lot of money in shops, restaurants and taxis, creating more local jobs.

This is not just a contest over planning regulations, it is a battle for hearts and minds.