Plan to cram more flats into Donaldson’s

An artist's impression of plans for the Donaldson's site. Picture: comp
An artist's impression of plans for the Donaldson's site. Picture: comp
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New images have been revealed showing how a planned redevelopment of the former Donaldson’s School for the deaf will look, as developers confirmed they plan to squeeze nearly double the number of housing units into the historic building compared with previous proposals.

An arc of modern flats will be built behind the William Playfair-designed Gothic building at Wester Coates.

The plans will also see every floor of the former hospital and school turned into one, two or three-bed apartments, including the basement and attic.

However, developer City & Country and Cala said the plans will show greater respect to the building and its surroundings than previous failed attempts, protecting many of Donaldson’s original features.

In total, 201 flats will be created, with 115 in the historic building compared with previous proposals for just 63. Some will be as small as 23sq metres.

The plans were exhibited on Thursday at a hotel next to the site, with cross-sections and floor diagrams on display. Residents expressed their disappointment that artist’s impressions of the northern views of the building – where the modern flats will be built – were not included in the display.

Helen Moore, managing director of City & Country, said the plans were the best way to “safeguard this truly iconic building”.

She said: “Within the Playfair building itself we hope to create 115 stylish conversion apartments, and while this is more than previously consented, this is due to creative space planning and utilising all spaces within the building including attics and basements.

“Not only will this create a more varied mix of property types, it also means there will be virtually no vulnerable void areas reducing the risk to the building, while the cost of conserving it for future generations will be shared across more homeowners.”

One of the four original staircases will be preserved, as will a corridor running around the entire quadrangle, while parking will be buried beneath the gardens to the east and west.

Discussions are ongoing with Historic Scotland on how the chapel to the rear of the building will be used, with the likelihood that it will be 
subdivided into apartments. Cycling campaigners are also calling for a public route to be created through the site.

David McGrath, managing director of Cala Homes (East) said: “This is a special site and our designs have been carefully shaped to fit the context of the setting. Our proposal celebrates this historic building, which is the site’s most impressive feature. Anyone living in our new apartments will enjoy the unique view of Donaldson’s every day.”

Full plans are due to be submitted for approval by councillors in May.