Comment: No-one should ride roughshod over heritage

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edinburgh is used to hogging the limelight at awards ceremonies after being feted for its fantastic tourist attractions and high quality of life.

But no-one wanted us to grab two of the three prizes on offer at the Carbuncle Awards, which aim to highlight the worst examples of development in Scotland. The new £25 million airport terminal might look like an aircraft hangar but that is perhaps par for the course at its location. What is far more embarrassing for the Capital, and the city council in particular, is the brickbat aimed at the redevelopment of St Andrew Square.

The site of the old Scottish Provident building, on the corner linking the square with Princes Street, is one of the most high-profile and sensitive in the Capital. Millions of visitors flock past it every year, many of them pausing to take photographs from one of the best vantage points of the Scott Monument. The judges were particularly scathing, describing the demolition of the formerly B-listed Scottish Provident building as “a tragedy borne out of farce”.

Whether you loved or loathed the 1960s building, there is no doubting the way in which the protection afforded to it was swept aside has damaged the reputation of the city council in the eyes of many conservationists.

There is a huge swathe of redevelopment planned for the city centre in the next few years, from the £850m overhaul of the St James Quarter and the £60m plans for the nearby old Royal Bank of Scotland HQ to the long-awaited Caltongate project and the super luxury hotel proposed for the old Royal High.

The city has to strike a careful balance. It must not stand in the way of progress when it will bring jobs and other opportunities, but let developers ride roughshod over our built heritage and we lose much of what makes Edinburgh beautiful, and attracts visitors to our vital tourism industry. Today’s verdict does little to inspire confidence that we will get it right.