Development Brief Princes Street Block 10

The development brief area is situated at the eastern end of the city centre and is the least typical of all the development blocks within the CCPSDF area. The brief area is bound by Calton Hill to the north, Calton Road to the south, St. Andrew’s House to the west and the western end of Regent Terrace. For the purposes of this development brief, the boundary of Block 10 has been refined to focus on the former Royal High School campus and a section of Calton Road. The former Royal High School, curtilage buildings and boundary walls are statutorily listed buildings and are within the New Town and Old Town Conservation Areas and World Heritage Site. The development brief also includes the landscape escarpment between Calton Road and Regent Road and the railway bridge over Calton Road.

Block 10 occupies a strategic location between the Old Town and the eastern edge of the city centre. The block has the potential to deliver a cultural and visitor destination and become a key connection between the existing and emerging developments within the Old Town and the St James Quarter. Figure 2 shows the strategic connections around the brief area. The base map (Figure 1) reflects the Mountgrange proposals for Caltongate, which the Council has approved, as consistent with the Caltongate masterplan, subject to the views of Scottish Ministers.

The principal elements which make up the development brief area are the former Royal High School, including curtilage buildings, a disused single storey warehouse on Calton Road and the landscaping area between Regent Road and Calton Road. The area also contains existing social housing on Calton Road. Calton Road has, in more recent years, seen a degree of regeneration through a number of new mixed-use developments and residential conversions. Planning permission has now been granted (subject to legal agreements) for an affordable housing and mixed-use development on Calton Road.

The success of the First New Town (developed east to west and substantially complete by 1830) stimulated demand for further expansion of the city. To enable this expansion, new developments including the location of the felons’ prison, prompted the Council to improve access to Calton Hill by building a bridge over the valley. Work began in 1815 with Robert Stevenson appointed as engineer and Archibald Elliot as architect. The bridge officially opened in 1819 and created an important connection to the Calton Hill area of the city. The buildings along Waterloo Place were in turn built by a single developer and provided a grand entrance to the city.

The development of the bridge provided much improved access to Calton Hill with the Royal High School developing in the following years. The development of the railway in the early 1840’s within the Waverley Valley resulted in the area becoming further industrialised with gas works and brewery sites developing in 4 the surrounding area. The New Town Conservation Area Character Appraisal (2005) and Conservation Plan for the former Royal High School (LDN Architects, May 2004) explain in greater detail the historical development of the area.

The east of the city centre has seen significant investment in more recent years including the refurbishment of the former GPO building, the reuse of buildings on Waterloo Place as hotels and the existing leisure/office developments at Greenside Place. Environmental improvements proposed for the open space at Calton Hill, London Road and Hillside Crescent will include improved paths, lighting and planting. These will works will enhance access to Calton Hill and will encourage the use of this space. With the continued investment interest in the Caltongate and St James areas of the city, Block 10 represents a strategic site within this context and will encourage further investment within this area.

Planning Policy Context

The Council’s planning policies for the city centre are contained within the Edinburgh and Lothians Structure Plan (2015) (ELSP) and the Central Edinburgh Local Plan (1997) (CELP) which comprise the development plan for the area. In addition to the development plan there are a number of documents that will be material to the consideration of proposals that come forward for the area and the individual listed buildings. Principal among these is the finalised Edinburgh City Local Plan (March 2007) (ECLP) which, when adopted will replace the CELP. Other material considerations include: • Inspiring Action: The Edinburgh City Centre Action Plan 2005-2010; • Local Transport Strategy 2007-2012, including the Council’s Parking Strategy; • The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site Management Plan; • New Town Conservation Area Character Appraisal; • Old Town Conservation Area Character Appraisal; • The Inventory of Gardens and Design Landscapes; • Edinburgh Standards for Streets; • Edinburgh Standards for Sustainable Building; • Edinburgh Skyline Study (Colvin and Moggridge 2006); • Caltongate Masterplan 2006.

The Council’s planning policies aim to protect and promote the vital mix of government, cultural, business, retail and leisure uses within a diverse, thriving and welcoming city centre. To this end the Council seeks to maintain and strengthen the city centre as the principal focus of activities which are integral to Edinburgh’s role as a capital city, a regional service centre and a major tourist destination.

The overarching CCPSDF promotes a differentiation of character within the city centre by encouraging the identification of distinct quarters within the centre. There is an emphasis on mixed uses within individual sites and locations which will foster city centre vitality. Special attention will be paid to streets and public spaces and how these can be improved and made more pedestrian friendly. This will be coupled with a balanced approach to transport and parking that reduces unnecessary car use, congestion and pollution.

Block 10 contains a number of statutorily listed buildings. Listed building consent and/or planning permission will be required for works which affect the character of these listed buildings and/or development proposals. Historic Scotland will be consulted as required through this process.

Block 10 is largely within the New Town Conservation Area and extends south into the Old Town Conservation Area at Calton Road. It also lies entirely within the UNESCO inscribed World Heritage Site. While the designation of the site does not carry any additional planning powers or controls, the impact of any proposed development on the site will be a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.

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