Edinburgh Waverley masterplan: Heritage groups and watchdog voice ‘deep concern’ over plans

Waverley Station entrance, Market Street. Pic: JPI Media
Waverley Station entrance, Market Street. Pic: JPI Media
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HERITAGE groups have voiced “disappointment” and “deep concern” at the proposals set out in the draft masterplan for the redevelopment of Edinburgh’s Waverley station.

And watchdog Historic Environment Scotland said it could not support the current proposal.

Rail bosses want to add a mezzanine floor to create a new concourse above the platforms, which would mean building a new, higher roof. And they plan a new street-level main entrance from Waverley Bridge which would involve removing the ramps down into the station. The station’s ticket hall would be preserved.

But the Cockburn Association said it was disappointed the heritage significance of the station had not been taken into account.

Director Terry Levinthal said: “The whole station is a Category A listed building, but that does not seem to have entered into their thinking.

“The way they want to reconfigure it, you would need to virtually demolish the whole of Waverley with some bits retained.”

Mr Levinthal argued other options for the redevelopment should be explored as well. He claimed there was “great scope” for improving the station and its surroundings and expanding westwards.

“We would also advocate the integration of Waverley Mall into the scheme, which could provide huge benefit over the ill-conceived rooftop extension granted consent recently.”

Historic Environment Scotland said Waverley was “one of the UK’s greatest surviving Victorian city stations”. In a statement it said: “The entire station, including the roof, is Category A listed, and is set within Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.

“We have not been formally consulted, but are aware of the initial masterplan proposals.

“We are keen to work closely with Network Rail and the City of Edinburgh Council on improvements to the operation of the station, but could not support proposals that removed the entire station excepting the booking hall.”

Edinburgh World Heritage said it viewed the masterplan approach “with deep concern”. In a statement, it said: “The suggested changes would result in the loss of much of the iconic glass roof, with its unusual ridge and furrow arrangement, as well as many, if not most, of the important 19th century details, such as cast-iron Corinthian capitals and bollards.”

It indicated the ticket hall was important, but there was much more to the station than that.

And it added: “There will also undoubtedly be an impact on the overall character of the Waverley valley, with its dramatic views and vistas at the heart of the Old and New Towns World Heritage Site.”

But the statement said Network Rail had “a positive record in conservation” and cited the revamp of London’s King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, which it said suggested ambitious plans for growth could be combined with caring for much-loved railway heritage.

“We therefore look forward to working closely with Network Rail to ensure the special value of this unique building is maintained and, hopefully, enhanced.”