Royal Hospital for Sick Children Site Redevelopment

Posted on: July 26, 2018

Our comments on development proposal for former hospital site, registering our opposition to plans to demolish rather than retain or reuse certain buildings on Sylvan Place and Rillbank Crescent.

Address:   Royal Hospital for Sick Children, 9 Sciennes Road, Edinburgh, EH9 1LF

Proposal: Mixed use development comprising residential (8 houses and 118 flats), student accommodation 323 beds, communal space, cycle/car parking provision, public realm enhancements, associated works and infrastructure. Development involves partial demolition of existing buildings, erection of new buildings and change of use/conversion of retained buildings (as amended)

Reference No: 18/02719/FUL

Closing date for comments: Fri 27 Jul 2018

Determination date: Fri 12 Oct 2018

Result: Application Granted

Cockburn Response

The Cockburn’s Urban Design Group (CUDG) had the opportunity to visit the RHSC site with members of the design team. CUDG commends many aspects of this ambitious project which will bring traditional residential properties back into residential use, repurpose an important heritage building, provide student housing and much-needed affordable housing and open-up new access routes.

However, we would strongly urge consideration of the following points:

We are not convinced that the complete demolition of the A & E unit on Sylvan Place is necessary. We would urge reconsideration of façade retention. If this is not feasible, we would strongly encourage the re-use of key architectural elements from the existing decorative facade in the proposed new-build to create a stronger architectural reference between the proposed new build and the original streetscape and context.

We are disappointed that the existing building at the corner of Sylvan Place and Rillbank Crescent is proposed for demolition. We would again urge consideration of its retention or façade retention and/or the reuse of design features in-situ if at all feasible.

In Rillbank Terrace, CUDG members expressed reservations about the amount of student amenity space and communal garden space/parking space that is proposed. But, CUDG members understand that in terms of landscaping, across the site more generally, this has still to be designed in detail.

The proposed affordable housing will be in one block. We would generally promote the dispersal of social housing across a development site where this is possible.

The re-purposed RHSC facade at Rillbank Terrace, as currently proposed, will have a considerable amount of glass and modern cladding. CUDG members did not feel that this material finishing was sympathetic to the other existing and proposed architectural elements of the street.

CUDG members expressed regret that it has not proved possible to remove parking entirely from the front quadrangle of the RHSC.

Sympathetic landscaping will lessen the visual impact of parking and can create a sense of ‘arrival’ at the entrance to the repurposed RHSC. We would urge consideration of a one-way access/exit to the new parking area. The garden area may be a suitable location of ‘memorials’ relocated from the RHSC.

Finally, we strongly urge the recycling and reuse of stonework that will result from the demolition process.