Mountgrange’s plans to redevelop a key area of Edinburgh’s Old Town moved a step closer to reality after 10 of its 12 planning applications were approved yesterday.

Edinburgh City Council’s planning committee said it was minded to approve the majority of applications as recommended.

Two applications relating to New Street and 221-223 Canongate and 221-225 Canongate have been continued after the committee asked for further information on the possible retention of the tenement and the improvement of certain aspects of the design.

Old town plans
Mountgrange, headed by Manish Chande and Martin Myers, plans a £300m scheme comprising 185,000 sq ft of offices, 200 flats, an arts quarter, and a 205-bedroom Sofitel hotel and conference centre at the site of the former New Street bus station.

Cllr Jim Lowrie, convenor of the planning committee, said: ‘The Committee was minded to approve the majority of applications put forward for the Caltongate site at today's meeting. Crucially, the five star hotel, which is the cornerstone of the development, and the square were approved.

‘This site occupies a location of strategic importance within the city centre. Redevelopment will not only strengthen the residential population and address the needs of the local community, but creates the opportunity to introduce a variety of a new uses and activities into the city centre, including much needed housing, leisure, business and commercial facilities, which will all bring positive benefits to the city's economy.’

Strong opposition

There has been strong opposition by various groups to the development. World heritage group Unesco have criticized the scheme and said it was unhappy with the proposed demolition of the locally listed Cannongate Ventures building and a 1930s tenement building on the Royal Mile built by Edinburgh architect Ebenezer Macrae.

Mountgrange had to withdraw an earlier scheme after heritage and community concerns over the loss of flats on the Royal Mile.

All decisions will be now referred to Scottish Ministers as part of the usual planning process.