Old Royal High School
Posted on: June 22, 2022
We understand that this application is essentially the same set of proposals for the scheme consented previously. The Association fully supported the previous scheme, and we continue to do so with this application.
Address: 5-7 Regent Road Edinburgh EH7 5BL
Proposal: Form new premises for St Mary’s Music School including revised layout arrangements, new opening within the West Pavilion and proposed glazed floor light to the external portico at New Parliament House
Reference No: 22/02449/FUL & 22/02450/LBC
Closing date for comments: 26/11/2021
Determination date: 01/072022
The Association has studied the plans for the conversion of the former Royal High School on Regent Road into a new music school. We understand that this application is essentially the same set of proposals for the scheme consented previously. The Association fully supported the previous scheme, and we continue to do so with this application.
From our study of the plans, the main changes are:
- revisions to car parking and landscaping – We find these generally positive with the reduction in car park numbers. Although several existing trees at the western entrance are lost, we understand that these were landscape additions by PSA for the 1979 Parliament House scheme. At the 2018 Public Inquiry into the hotel proposals, these were not considered to be particularly important or valuable. Overall, the landscape proposals in general are improved as a result, with more publicly access space made available.
- Proposed new café at the West Pavilion – although there will be some excavation and re- grading of levels to provide disabled access and form new terrace, we do not feel that this is a significant issue in the context of the overall scheme.
- New School Entrance with reconfigured school/practice room elements. The new school arrangements extend the new building further westwards so that instead of terminating behind the Hamilton building, they extend beyond it towards the West Lodge. The introduction of a new Post-modern interpretation of a pavilion as the new school entrance will affect the legibility of the ORHS from views from Waterloo Place although this would appear to have a minor impact. The visuals are inadequate to make much sense of this, so the Cockburn would advocate a visual impact assessment as part of the application process to properly assess this element of the scheme.
- Proposed handrails and balustrades within the main Portico – this involves cutting a new glazed slot in the main portico as well as introducing a bronze and glass balustrade for safety issues. Although small in scale, this does affect the main architectural element of the school, namely the central processional portico. In our assessment, the issue is increased light and access for the new scheme, and the impact on the very sublime composition of the central architectural feature. Overall, we think that a suitable balance has been struck and that this will have a minor impact on the historic fabric of the building. The set back of the new balustrade will also reduce its visual intrusion. As such, we are happy to support this change.
- Changes to the main hall – the substitution of cast iron columns with brackets as per Hamilton’s original drawings present a possible improvement to the scheme.
We also note several other changes such as the deletion of the moveable stage in the main Hall, shifting plant rooms about, etc. None of these are significant.
Overall, the current proposals represent a modest maturation of the consented scheme. Some cost engineering has taken place and inevitably more will follow. The Association remains firmly supportive of the proposals.
Image: From planning application documentation, copyright may be reserved.