Planners advise council to approve Olympic emblem

PLANS to site huge Olympic rings on The Mound are due to be waved through despite fears they would spoil “key views” of the Capital.

Saturday, 14th April 2012, 1:29 pm

It has been recommended that planners green-light the controversial proposals – which had to be revised following a doomed bid to fix the emblem to Edinburgh Castle – to ensure the elevated Olympic symbol is in place by the end of the month.

The Agitos, the traditional insignia for the Paralympic Games, will also be sited on The Mound when that competition kicks off at the culmination of this summer’s Olympics.

The project faces opposition from the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS), among three registered objectors, amid concerns the 30-foot-high emblem would be “obstructive” to views of the Old and New Towns for a “significant period in the peak summer season”.

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In a letter, the heritage watchdog branded the plan “inappropriate” and questioned whether The Mound embankment would be turned into a “near-permanent display of temporary upstanding promotional structures”.

Tom Parnell, case panel secretary at AHSS, said: “We have no objection to celebrating the Olympics. What we are concerned about is the precedent that an upstanding display will set for future events – perhaps equally worthy, if not more so – wishing to use the same location.

“Along with the proposed Ferris wheel, there does seem to be an increasing number of threats, albeit temporary so far, to key views in the World Heritage Site.”

Despite widespread consultation no other heritage bodies registered objections to the Mound project and council officials backed it on the grounds that neither the character of the area nor nearby listed buildings would be tarnished.

An archeological survey of The Mound must be carried out before work can begin.

City festivals champion Councillor Steve Cardownie railed against plans to mount the logo on the Castle but said he was comfortable siting the emblem on The Mound.

“I think that in a brilliant city centre like Edinburgh, anything of this nature could be deemed to be obtrusive in some shape or form,” he said.

“But in my view this site on The Mound is the least obtrusive within the city centre.

“If we had not found another site for it, other than Edinburgh Castle, we risked losing it to Glasgow.”

He insisted the latest plans would not set a precedent for future promotions on The Mound.

“Each request will be dealt with on its merits but this is not something we will repeat on regular basis. This is a unique situation with the Olympic.”

It is expected the Olympic and Paralympic insignia will be on view until September.