A FORMER Scotsman warehouse is to be demolished and replaced with a seven-storey hotel amid claims the council “wilfully left it to ruin”.
The mothballed printworks in Market Street has fallen into disrepair and is now on the At-Risk register after lying derelict for more than two decades.
A planning bid has now been launched to transform the crumbling building into a 113-bedroom hotel – a move that will plug a neighbouring gap site of 40 years.
Heritage chiefs insist the council-owned premises has been left to decay despite four years of warnings about its deteriorating condition. And they claim the replacement hotel complex is “wholly inappropriate” to the World Heritage Site.
Owners of The Scotsman purchased the century-old premises in 1898 and it housed some of the newspaper’s offices, printing works and commercial operations.
A low-level link to Waverley Station was used as a special Scotsman railway siding to quickly pack newspapers on to trains for distribution.
Much of the premises was converted to exhibition space by the City Architect’s Department 1979-80.
Marion Williams, director of the Cockburn Association, was critical of the blueprints which she hoped will be refused by the planning department.
She said: “We have contacted the council on a number of occasions regarding the decline in the listed building but it was wilfully left to ruin.
“Now demolition is a foregone conclusion and we see proposals for yet another budget hotel filling the gap left at a mass wholly inappropriate to its setting yet probably not hideous enough to be refused planning permission.”
A spokesman for arms-length council property firm EDI, which owns the site, said: “Great care has been taken to ensure the building blends into the fabric of the Old Town. The consultation process has begun to allow EDI to take on board public comments as well as those of the statutory consultees.
Councillor Frank Ross, economic convener, said: “This development signifies a major investment tackling demand for four star hotel rooms. EDI has reached agreement with a hotel operator not yet represented in Edinburgh and this will help to enhance Edinburgh’s status as a world class tourist destination.”