Proposed Hotel/Retail 104 – 106, 107 & 108 Princes Street

Posted on: May 19, 2023

We find that there is nothing in the current proposals which we can support. If consented this scheme will lead to the further erosion of what was once one of the finest streets in the world. We object in the strongest terms.

Address: 104 – 106, 107 & 108 Princes Street Edinburgh

Proposal: Redevelopment including demolition for hotel use (Class 7) with ancillary bar /restaurant facilities and retail use

Reference No: 23/01417/FUL/ 23/01420/LBC

Closing date for comments: Fri 19 May 2023

Determination date: Fri 04 Aug 2023

Cockburn Response


The principle of hotel/retail use in this location is acceptable. We also support the proposed retention of an element of retail use and the maintenance an active street frontage. However, this application is not acceptable in its current form.   We find that there is little in the current proposals which we can support.  If consented this scheme will lead to a further erosion of what was once one of the finest streets in the world.  We object in the strongest terms.

The City of Edinburgh Council needs to seriously accelerate its stalled Waverley Valley exercise. In our view, leaving the future of such a prominent, world-renowned street to the vagaries of the market is not a way forward. There is a distinct possibility that Princes Street is evolving into a street of hotels, with all the issues that arise from that.

Detailed comments

The City Centre Princes Street Development Framework sets out a basis to address the decline in retail activity on Princes Street and to promote inward investment to this location.  Some of the underlying assumptions on which this framework is based are no longer valid. However, the ‘Building Analysis’ (p30) relating to the street block which is the subject of this development proposal remains valid. This block is now characterised by a varied and rolling roofline.

The front façade, as proposed, is simply too high and is based on the highest available reference datum point from adjacent buildings. As such this proposal actively works against the established varied and rolling  roofline which characterises this section of Princes Street.  We have reviewed  the current proposal with reference to the active floor levels of adjacent buildings and existing buildings on the redevelopment site. We have also examined the the characteristics of the rooflines on this section of Princes Street. As a consequence,  we suggest that the front façade requires to be reduced by at least two, and probably three, full stories in height.

A coordinated redesign and height adjustment of the rear facades will also be required to integrate  successfully the rear elevation with a lower front elevation and to maintain the essential character of the First New Town. The essential character of the New Town  consists of principal buildings on main streets and lower scale buildings on intervening streets such as Rose Street Lane. The scale and character of buildings on Rose Street Lane has changed over the years.  However, the essential character of the relationship between main and subsidiary streets of the first New Town is still legible on Rose Street Lane.

In general terms, it is own view that this proposal represents a considerable increase in development on a restricted site and the imposition of a massive and architecturally bland and mundane development in a highly prominent location in the New Town of Edinburgh. As such, it fundamentally does not support policy ENV World Heritage Sites. This policy ‘requires development to respect and protect the outstanding universal values of the World Heritage Sites and their settings. Setting may include sites in the immediate vicinity, viewpoints identified in the key views study and prominent landscape features throughout the city’.  We also note that the development site includes 106 Princes Street, originally a townhouse, it is essential that such remaining Georgian elements on Princes Street are retained and protected.

This development proposal includes a 300-bedroom hotel, with additional retail units.  The servicing requirements of the proposed hotel/retail operation will be quite different and significantly more onerous to achieve than the requirements of the former retail units which used to operate from this site.  These retail operations used the site in a much less intensive way than is now being proposed.    It is likely that considerably more traffic will be generated, and that this will be both frequent and varied.  This development will also attract a considerable number of occupants.  We do not accept that the nearby tramline will alleviate potential access pressures.  It is likely that a considerable number of taxi-led journeys will be generated. Yet, vehicular movements in Rose Street Lane are constrained, Rose Street is pedestrianised, and the City Centre Transformation Plan seeks to reduce vehicular movements in the city centre.  A revised servicing and access plan is needed to directly address these current and emerging contextual issues.

Rose Street Lane has a residential population and adjacent street also retains a residential character to a degree.  Although it is unclear if all current residential uses are fully regulated, it is likely that Rose Street Lane will retain a residential character. Daylighting in Rose Street Lane is not good. However, we do not accept that this is a reason to risk degrading the quality of daylighting for residents further.