SAVE Edinburgh Central Library: Let There Be Light and Land!
Is a group formed of signatories to the 38 Degrees petition, “Let There Be Light” in Edinburgh’s Old Town. This petition was set up to highlight the sale of public land always intended for Central Library’s own expansion needs. See, 38degrees,org.uk/petitions.
SAVE Edinburgh Central Library: Let There Be Light and Land! Constituted as an unincorporated voluntary group to fundraise for legal costs of up to £27,000 in whole-hearted support of a local resident’s petitioning of the Court of Session for a judicial review of the planning decision with the aim of having it quashed and the hotel development stopped. See, crowdfunder.co.uk/save-edinburgh-central-library.
The request to proceed with a court case in the Court of Session was granted on 21 March 2017.
We need your HELP! PLEASE DONATE using the Credit and Debit Card and PayPal payment options accessed via the Donate and Just Donate buttons on the Crowdfunder webpage. See, payment.crowdfunder.co.uk/pledge/209110/959428?donate_amount=20
These ‘donations’ are actually donation pledges, which will be taken from your bank account on 28 May 2017 when the two-month long Crowdfunder project closes.
Alternatively, post a cheque, payable to ‘SAVE Edinburgh Central Library’ to:
SAVE Edinburgh Central Library
c/o EOTDT 8 Jackson’s Entry
The background to the current hotel development began with a Proposal of Application Notice 15/02212/PAN, 1-6 India Buildings, 11-15 Victoria Street and Cowgatehead Church, submitted on 13 May 2015 and approved on 25 May 2015.
This was followed by the Application for Planning Permission 15/04445/FUL, India Buildings, 11-15 Victoria Street and Cowgatehead Church, submitted on 25 September 2015.
On 25 May 2016 City of Edinburgh Council’s Development Management Sub Committee (DMSC) narrowly approved, by eight votes to six, the India Buildings planning application 15/04445/FUL, India Buildings, 11-15 Victoria Street and Cowgatehead Church.
Despite appeals made to the Scottish Government to call in the application, the City of Edinburgh Council consented the application on 17 November 2016.
The development proposal’s most contentious element is a new-build 225-bedroom 6-11 storey hotel block (6 storeys on the Cowgate rising to 10 storeys with an 11th storey basement next to the back of India Buildings, Victoria Street) located just a few metres from the west elevation of Central Library, on a site locally called the Cowgatehead, or Cowgate gap site.
The closure and sale of, Cowgatehead Church NHS Clinic for the homeless, has also been a very controversial decision and a part of the proposed hotel development that has left citizen’s questioning the Council’s rationale.
The church was built with a bequest by Edinburgh bookseller William Whyte in 1858 and had an unbroken history as a place of charitable and outreach work for the poor and destitute in the area, until that is, January 2017.
This hotel development is one of the last in the City of Edinburgh Council’s, EDI Group’s Edinburgh 12 Initiative, highlighted by ICOMOS UK (UNESCO’s advisory body to the World Heritage Committee) as being a threat to the “integrity and authenticity” of Edinburgh’s Outstanding Universal Value, November 2015.
In addition, India Buildings planning application will add to the over-provision of hotel accommodation in Edinburgh’s Old Town, increase traffic congestion that in turn will exacerbate existing levels of deadly air pollution in an area already highlighted as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in breach of EU regulations, Directive 2008/50/EC.
The underbelly of Central Library’s management, or rather non-management by its custodians, City of Edinburgh Council, has only really begun to surface within the wider context of universal access, fire safety protocols and ensuring its collections are managed to professional archival standards.
Of course, the library’s need to expand has been something considered since the day the library was opened to the public in 1890, even perhaps at the time its foundation stone was laid by Andrew Carnegie himself on Saturday 9 July 1887.
From Professor Emeritus Sir Tom Devine, March 2017. are the following welcome words of encouragement and support to SAVE Edinburgh Central Library: Let There Be Light and Land!:
“I warmly support this righteous protest by the citizens of Edinburgh against the unacceptable plans of the City Council for the Central Library and its environs.”
Also, as Rory Bremner pointed out in March 2017:
“On the face of it, this seems an extraordinary betrayal of Carnegie’s intentions and a slap in the face for Edinburgh’s great cultural heritage.“
Indeed it is a “betrayal of Carnegie’s intentions”, as Rory Bremner says, especially in light of Mr & Mrs Andrew Carnegie’s telegram, read out at the library’s opening ceremony, 9 June 1890:
“We congratulate you on opening the Free Public Library…We trust this library is to grow in usefulness year after year, and prove one of the most potent agencies for the good of the people of Edinburgh for all time to come. Mr and Mrs Andrew Carnegie”.
Lastly, Alexander McCall Smith reminded us again in 2017 that:
“We must stop destroying this magnificent city. It’s all very well catering for visitors, but we need to ask: why do they come here in the first place? They come to see one of the world’s most beautiful cities. So, if we want to have visitors, let’s not wreck it. We have a responsibility to the world and at the moment we are showing ourselves unfit to discharge it. Shame on us. Shame.”
Daisy Carnegie (10 May 2017)