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Future of Calton Hill landmark takes another twist as Edinburgh planners back Richard Murphy's concert hall proposal

A proposal by architect Richard Murray to transform one of Edinburgh’s most beloved landmarks into a concert hall and music school seems likely to go ahead after planning officials threw their weight behind the scheme.

The former home of the Royal High School on Calton Hill is a neoclassical listed building designed by architect Thomas Hamilton in the 1820s. The question of how best to preserve the site has proven highly contentious, with a scheme to convert the property into a luxury Rosewood hotel with two new landscaped wings rejected by just one council vote in December 2015.

That decision is currently being appealed by developers Duddingston House Properties and Urbanist Hotels, who have been the council’s preferred partner for the project since 2010.

However, now planning officers have recommended Murphy’s rival scheme – backed by the Royal High School Preservation Trust – as a viable alternative. The proposal suggests reconfiguring the entrance to the building from Regent Road and creating a new foyer beneath the assembly hall, which in turn would become a performance space. A new landscaped public garden would be added to the west of the building. The building would double as a concert hall and a home for the local St Mary's Music School.

Crucially, virtually no change would be visible from outside the building and planners have praised the design as being “generally low profile and sensitively designed.” Their report states the plan “safeguards the overall character and setting of the listed Hamilton building, the setting of surrounding listed buildings and monuments and the site's conservation area setting.”

Their suggestion to approve the project will be considered by the council's development management sub-committee on 17 August.

Calton Hill  Edinburgh  Royal High School  St Mary's Music School  Richard Murphy Architects  architecture  Rosewood  Hopkins 
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A proposal by architect Richard Murray to transform one of Edinburgh’s most beloved landmarks into a concert hall and music school seems likely to go ahead after planning officials threw their weight behind the scheme. The former home of the Royal High School on Calton Hill is a neoclassical listed building designed by architect Thomas Hamilton in the 1820s. The question of how best to preserve the site has proven
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Murphy's proposal would transform the former school into a community concert hall and music school / Royal High School Preservation Trust
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