Edinburgh’s being destroyed by developers

Edinburgh’s being destroyed by developers. Cocteau2000 (and eighteen) explores how…






















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  1. Derek says:

    The school behind Tynecastle’s still standing (but empty).

  2. DaveM says:

    It’s not developers that are destroying Edinburgh – it’s the Council. Sadly, that Council has always seemed hell-bent on ruining the city with no vision or strategic thinking whatsoever, regardless of whether it’s been run by Labour, Lib Dems or SNP. At no point in my eighteen-plus years here have I had any confidence in what they’re doing: the lamentable trams and the disastrous effect the works had on local businesses, almost continual closure of ‘underground’ nightclubs, a ridiculous byelaw pretty much banning live music in pubs (thankfully that, at least, has gone!), an obsession with hotels, not to mention the way it’s shitting all over the World Heritage Site.

    Given its recent history with unfit PFI school buildings and statutory repairs, I suspect vested and conflicts of interest to run deep within the administration of my adopted city; and I don’t have much faith in those elected to run the place, regardless of their party. The Edinburgh Mob used to be a force to be reckoned with, but these days it’s money that talks here and the citizenry is treated with apparent contempt (unless you live in Colinton or Corstorphine or Merchiston or the like. You know – ‘nice’, middle class, Tory-voting areas). The Chief Executive is on an eye-wateringly high salary (far more than the First Minister), while services are cut. And all the while the place is to be made increasingly attractive for tourists (yet a tax is to be put on their visits). If someone else could enlighten to me as to what exactly is going on in the City Chambers, I would me most grateful.

    1. Doghouse Rielly says:

      I’ve no argument with what you say but I would ask, what do folk think the chief exec of the city council should get paid?

      It’s a genuine question because if you set an upper limit of the folk that run the public sector you effectively set a limit on the size and complexity of these organisations. The the case of local councils that may be a good thing, the ones we have, it seems to me, are too large.

  3. J Galt says:

    And most of them bought as speculations by buyers from London and the South of England.

    In other places this is called ethnic cleansing.

    Never mind, no doubt plenty of brown envelopes for the boys (and girls).

    And a side benefit – a NO vote guaranteed!

  4. w.b.robertson says:

    that castle up on the hill has striking views (over what remains of that once world famous street). no doubt the developers already have plans all drawn up!

  5. Roland L Reid says:

    Leith Theatre would have also been sold off by the City Council prior to the property crash in 2008 had it not been for a group of concerned Leithers. This lobby group constituted itself into a charity – Leith Theatre Trust. The Trust now lease the building from the Council and have exciting plans to bring the theatre back into regular use for music, events and community use. We have already hosted the Hidden Door Festival and a Train Spotting 2 event. What has been achieved so far is thanks to the passion and commitment of volunteers and a small team of paid staff. We need both financial and hands on support for our future plans. To find out more go to: Leiththeatretrust.org.

  6. Rab Pollock says:

    Labour Labour
    Edinburgh City Council
    1988 Labour
    1992 No overall control Labour administration
    1995 Labour
    1999 Labour
    2003 Labour
    2007 No overall control Lib Dem – SNP administration
    2012 No overall control Labour – SNP administration
    2017 No overall control SNP – Labour administration

  7. KEVIN BROWN says:

    Infuriating. Thank you for writing this.

  8. Del says:

    Colinton is not immune. The primary school at the foot of Thorburn Road is now an old folks home / nursing home, rebranded as Thorburn Manor.

    1. Gary Thom says:

      SNP Govt also overruled a local planning decision to allow a co-op supermarket in the village against the wishes of locals.

  9. florian albert says:

    The ‘article’ raises interesting points.

    I am not sure that the answer is for the Council to go into the property development business. If it had gone down that road before 2008, it might well have got its fingers burned. I have very little confidence in Edinburgh Council but they might be right here.

    Getting facts about schools in Edinburgh is difficult but, the core decision, to sell off – at least some of these former schools -was probably right. There are not many alternative uses for such buildings.

    Another, related, question is how schools are declared surplus and closed. In some cases, e g Leith Academy, the school in the second picture above, it is straight forward. The pupils have moved to a nearby new building.
    The former Bonnington Primary – now the gaelic medium primary – is different.
    In 2008, the latest date when I could find figures, only 15% of the pupils in the school’s catchment area were attending the school. Clearly, there was something amiss. I have no idea what. (At the same time, 23% of Leith Primary’s catchment area’s pupils attended the school.)

    Next door to Bonnington Primary, Standard Life had a large building. They closed it down. The site lay derelict for several years. Now they have built houses on it.

    1. This ‘comment’ raises interesting points.
      No-one said the Council should go into the property development business.
      I’m not sure what point you are trying to make about Bonnington Primary or Standard Life. Are you?

      1. florian albert says:

        ‘No one said the council should go into the property development business.

        Cocteau2000 (and eighteen) wrote; ‘I’m assuming there’s some sort of Thatcherite regulation that would prevent the council from developing a school into flats themselves.’
        From that, it is reasonable to conclude that he would approve of such a move.
        Fair enough, though I disagree.

        The point about Standard Life is that schools being turned into houses/flats is part of a wider development in Edinburgh. It also applies to commercial properties such as the Standard Life building I mentioned. Another example is the Royal Mail delivery office in Brunswick Road, now turned into flats.
        Whether this change is for the better is open to discussion.

        The reference to Bonnington Primary was an attempt to draw attention to an under discussed element in Edinburgh. Why is one school closed, rather than another ?
        Bonnington closed. Broughton Primary, three bus stops along the road, stayed open.

        Schooling, in general, is a topic the left in Scotland pays little attention to.

  10. Tintock says:

    While I agree that Edinburgh Council is not the best at making sensible planning decisions I fail to see how repurposing redundant schools, often in poor condition, as residential accommodation is destroying the city. It is actually preserving and in some cases improving landmark buildings that are often listed. You might as well say that repurposing redundant banks as pub restaurants e.g. The Dome, All Bar One, or repurposing redundant churches e.g. The Queens Hall, Lyon & Turnbull Auction Room, is also destroying the city. Finding a new use for old buildings not wanted for their original purpose seems to me preferable to demolition and helps to retain the character of Edinburgh.

    Edinburgh Council (in its several forms) has been closing schools for a very long time, for example Castlehill School closed in the early 1950s.

    What concerns me more is the large and key developments that are going on at the moment, the continuing saga of the Old Royal High School, the Donaldson’s School redevelopment and the new St James Centre (although it is hard to see how this could be worse than the one that has just been demolished!).

  11. SimonB says:

    Edinburgh Council has consistently made appalling planning decisions obsequiously acquiescing to the imposition of austerity, complicit in ensuring that while we’re supposedly ‘all in this together’ the rich continue to get richer under the yolk of predatory/ zombie capitalism .

    Though public servants are supposed to be bound by the 7 Principles of Public Life, upholding a civic duty to “We The People’ and NOT to private commercial interests, the filching of the City’s silver & gold has been undertaken WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC CONSULTATION TO DISCUSS ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS in spite of a pledge:

    “We need to recognise that there has been a breakdown in trust between the residents of
    Edinburgh and their elected representatives on the Council. That relationship needs to be
    repaired. This new contract with the capital marks a fresh start, with a Council willing to listen to local people and work together with local communities… A council where cooperation, fairness, accountability and responsibility really matter… The City will be able to judge the Council against this promise .”

    City of Edinburgh Council (2012 – 2017)

    For those with sufficient ire and time to engage further, the case of the India Buildings/ Central Library reveals the extent to which the Council has fallen from grace in undermining this city of The Enlightenment.

    To download the assessment and spread the word see:


  12. Nelson says:

    Instead of a researched article, we get someone’s Twitter feed. That’s not even rubbish – it’s just cutting & pasting a Twitter feed. Anyway, my favorite is ‘New Town Flaneur’. That highlights the importance of buying avocados from Waitrose whilst wearing salmon-pink trews.

    1. It was a particularly good feed that tells its own story …

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