Hotel plans put Edinburgh’s World Heritage Status under threat

dinburgh’s status as a World Heritage Site could be revoked if plans for two major hotel developments go ahead.

The controversial plans include the 12-storey, 210-bedroomribbon hotel – which its critics have named ‘the turd’ – as part of an £850m plan to regenerate Edinburgh’s St James Centre and the £75m transformation of the former Royal High School.

Both schemes have been slammed by conservation groups – with the Royal High School plans blasted as 
“significantly damaging” by Historic Scotland.

Today, a team of three inspectors from the UK committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos), which advises Unesco, are expected to visit the city for two days to assess the impact of the developments on Edinburgh’s World Heritage status.

The inspectors have the power to refer any criticisms to the body’s international committee. This could prompt Unesco to start its own investigation and could result in the city being stripped of its world heritage status.

As a result Edinburgh City Council is set to start a formal public review into the city’s world heritage site management plan next year.

Councillor Ian Perry, convenor of Edinburgh’s planning committee, told the Guardian that the group’s current policy “doesn’t treat Edinburgh’s world heritage centre as a museum”.

He said: “It allows for development, so there’s no question that development isn’t allowed. Edinburgh is a dynamic place: the city is providing a huge amount of employment and investment.

“Whether we need to fundamentally change the way in which we manage world heritage centre will be discussed in the coming months as part of the review of the management plan.”