Centrum House: proposed demolition and redevelopment
Posted on: December 8, 2022
The proposals are of limited quality and interest and represent a dated architectural architype without a clear ‘residential’ character. They do not reflect the quality, residential character and scale of adjacent properties and are, as such, quite inappropriate for this location.
Address: Centrum House 108 – 114 & 116 Dundas Street Edinburgh EH3 5DQ
Proposal: Proposed demolition of existing office buildings and erection of a mixed-use development comprising 49 No. flats with 3 No. commercial units (Class 1, 2 and 3 uses), amenity space, landscaping, basement level car and cycle parking and other associated infrastructure.
Reference No: 22/05886/FUL and 22/05884/CON
Closing date for comments: Fri 30 Dec 2022
Determination date: Fri 20 Jan 2023
The Cockburn Association OBJECTS to this application.
We acknowledge some subtle improvements to the proposals in terms of the articulation of the Dundas Street elevation as well as a slightly more satisfactory approach to the corner with Fettes Row, but none so much to address our main concerns.
In our delegation to the Development Management Sub-Committee at the time of the original decision, we advocated that the existing sub- and superstructure (which we assumed to be reinforced concrete) should be retained due to the significant amount of embodied and embedded carbon that it represents. This continues to be our position although we accept that there is considerable scope for modification and indeed, extension. We can see no hurdle in achieving this in terms of floor-to-ceiling heights, etc. The scale of the building would be retained as well as its footprint, significantly lessening its impact on the local community.
As such, and considering carbon management in the round, we believe that an argument can be made that the proposals are inconsistent with Policy Des 6 Sustainable Buildings Planning permission will only be granted for new development where it has been demonstrated that: a) the current carbon dioxide emissions reduction target has been met, with at least half of this target met through the use of low and zero carbon generating technologies.
And to reiterate the main points in our comments on the original version of this application:
We believe that housing development on this site is acceptable in principle. However, the proposals are of limited quality and interest and represent a dated architectural architype without a clear ‘residential’ character. They do not reflect the quality, residential character and scale of adjacent properties and are, as such, quite inappropriate for this location.
In line with Edinburgh’s vision to be carbon neutral by 2030, we believe that demolition and redevelopment is not an appropriate response on this site. This is no apparent attempt to reuse or repurpose any of the existing structures and limited attempts to reduce the carbon footprint of the proposed structure. We therefore advocate that the existing sub- and superstructure (which we assume to be reinforced concrete) be retained. We can see no hurdle in achieving this in terms of floor-to-ceiling heights, etc. The scale of the building would be retained as well as its footprint, significantly lessening its impact on the local community.
We find the architectural expression mundane and do not agree with the assertion that it responds to the neighbouring Georgian architecture. It is typical of the bland commercial architecture that we see on speculative commercial developments in the city. This is in stark contrast to the detailed investigations into the architectural expression of the New Town North development across Dundas Street, where considerable effort and care has been put into the elevational design.
The Cockburn strongly advocates that the existing setback from Dundas Street be retained. We also believe that all efforts to retain the existing trees should be made.
In summary, the Cockburn sees little merit in the revised proposals, and recommend refusal