A MULTI-MILLION pound expansion of Edinburgh’s Waverley Mall shopping centre faces being delayed for years over claims it will cause “serious damage” to the capital’s World Heritage Site.
Opponents have warned classic views of the city will be marred if an extra level of shops, bars and restaurants is allowed to be built by new owners of the site.
Real estate firm Moorgarth unveiled plans last month for the expansion, which would see a new “superstructure” created to house commercial units around a “European market-style piazza”.
However, the Cockburn Association – the city’s long-running heritage watchdog – has warned protected views of the Old Town, Arthur’s Seat and the Waverley Valley will all be affected.
In a formal objection to the city council, which could trigger a public inquiry, its director Terry Levinthal has warned such views were “much more important to the city than this development”. However, the developers insisted that “magnificent” views of the Old Town would still be able to be enjoyed from within its expanded complex. Moorgarth claims its plans would also return the site to its Victorian market roots and create a “greater sense of arrival into Edinburgh” from Waverley Station. The developers claim the current complex is saddled with a “disjointed and poorly monitored” roof space dating back to the last major redevelopment in the 1980s.
The stand-off between the developers and the Cockburn Association has echoes of the long-running battle over plans to add modern extensions to the former Royal High School on Calton Hill to accommodate a luxury hotel development. That project’s fate will be decided at a public inquiry due to get under way later this year.
Mr Levinthal has told the council: “Whilst the Cockburn understands the challenge in improving the current mall and the desire of the operator/developer to make the building more visible, the views across the Waverley Valley are much more important to the city than this development.
“The truncation of views from East Princes Street and approaches from St Andrew Square will affect the legibility of this separation and cause serious damage to the World Heritage Site. Similarly, views from the west towards Arthur’s Seat will be substantially affected. The proposals would adversely affect the character and appearance of both the New Town and Old Town conservation areas by visually interrupting the key visual interplay between the two.”
Moorgarth chief executive Tim Vaughan said: “Importantly, these new proposals remain 1m below the legally established height restriction that protects the view of the Waverley Valley.”