Press coverage about Central Library, Edinburgh

2 June 2018


You probably wouldn’t believe this tale if you read it in a library book.

In 2004 Edinburgh became the world’s first Unesco City of Literature. This celebrated its writers, as well as initiatives which had consolidated its status as a home of the written word, from Allan Ramsay’s 1725 circulating library, via the 1962 International Writers’ Conference, to the Edinburgh Book Festival, founded 21 years later and still going strong.


31 May 2018

Protestors vent anger over Virgin’s controversial Old Town hotel

Demonstrators gathered outside City Chambers calling on the City of Edinburgh Council to think again in granting permission for Richard Branson to build his first UK Virgin Hotel in the Capital.

The campaigners from the Let Their Be Light group and the Old Town Community Council unveiled a banner ahead of yesterday’s full council meeting, pleading for ‘not another heartbreak hotel’.

The protesters want the Central Library, located next to the proposed location of the hotel, to be protected from loss of natural light. The groups say that some parts of the library could lose up to 82 per cent of natural light once the hotel is constructed.


30 May 2018

‘Money motivated ideas’ like Virgin Hotel are destroying Edinburgh say campaigners

Campaigners have said that “money motivated initiatives” such as the new Virgin Hotel are helping to “destroy” Edinburgh’s heritage.

More than 100 residents turned out to a public meeting at Central Hall last night to voice their anger at the 225-bedroom hotel which will include redevelopment of India Buildings in Victoria Street and a new-build development on a gap site in the Cowgate.


28 May 2018

Monopoly Edinburgh – Selling a City

Edinburgh is being sold. Scotland’s capital is being sold-out from under our feet.

Day-in-day-out property developers in cahoots with a conniving and inept council are buying and selling the very heart and soul of the city. Whether its architectural vandalism or asset-stripping of public buildings and resources, the pattern is the same – streets and common land sold-off on the Monopoly board of urban capitalism.


28 May 2018

Campaign calls for Edinburgh’s Virgin Hotel to be scrapped

CAMPAIGNERS are calling on the city council to withdraw planning permission for the new Virgin Hotel after a report revealed it will reduce daylight to parts of the neighbouring Central Library by as much as 82 per cent.

Richard Branson visited the Capital this week to mark the start of work on the 225-bedroom venture which will include redevelopment of India Buildings in Victoria Street and a new-build development on a gap site in the Cowgate.


26 May 2018

Virgin hotel that overshadows central library is a betrayal, say Scots writers

The Virgin hotel will block almost all natural light from the Carnegie library

Some of Scotland’s best-known writers have accused Edinburgh city council of indulging in a cynical exercise in “asset-stripping” and a betrayal of future generations by permitting a 225-room Virgin hotel to be built beside its central library.

Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith, AL Kennedy, James Robertson and Candia McWilliam are among 19 signatories to a letter to The Times, berating the council for abandoning an earlier proposal to expand the library.


22 May 2018

Branson visits new hotel site at India Buildings

To celebrate Virgin Hotels’ new venue to Edinburgh, Sir Richard Branson swept into India Buildings with the CEO of Virgin Hotels, Raul Leal to speak to the press who were waiting there.

He then went on to a party on the upper levels to press the flesh of the great and the good, including The Rt Hon Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, Frank Ross, and the Minister for International Development and Europe Alasdair Allan who both took time to speak to The Edinburgh Reporter about the new hotel development.


30 March 2018

Firm registered in tax haven snaps up Edinburgh land earmarked for five-star Virgin Hotel

CAMPAIGNERS have reacted with anger after land earmarked for one of Edinburgh’s highest-profile developments was bought over by a company registered in a tax haven.

Edinburgh’s historic India Buildings are set to be turned into the first Virgin Hotel outside the US, with global tycoon Sir Richard Branson hailing the move last month.


5 December 2017

Reclaim the City

As the campaign to defend Edinburgh’s Cental Library steps up a gear, Ray Burnett looks at the Old Town’s radical history – and what we are losing with mindless development for the rich.

For Edinburgh to become, in 2004, the first ‘City of Literature’ in the world, the home of a concept that UNESCO has since taken around the world, was no mean achievement. Almost fourteen years on it has developed into a vigorous promotion of ‘Books, Words, Ideas’, drawing on the capital’s rich publishing, creative and intellectual history.

One of the key strands it highlights and utilises is the City’s public library service, declaring: ‘Libraries are Edinburgh’s literary outposts; they are the beating heart of its communities, and they open a world, an escape hatch, for people of all ages…. Long live libraries!


7 March 2017

Tree protester evicted from hotel site in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket

A protester against a £65m hotel being built in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket has left a tree he has been living in after a sheriff granted an eviction notice to developers.


6 March 2017

Developers evict Edinburgh protester living in tree

For the last seven nights, a man has made a last ditch attempt to stop the development of a derelict Grassmarket site into a hotel by camping 20ft above the ground in a tree.


3 March 2017


It is one of the mysteries of human endeavour that a Golden Age is only recognised when it has passed. Like happiness, it appears in the rearview mirror.

When it is in full swing, insiders are oblivious, but with hindsight, what seemed like the usual grind and turmoil can be seen as a halcyon period of grace, forevermore to be talked of with wonder and nostalgia.


15 September 2016

Time to stop and think about our city’s future

I’m privileged to be a Member of Parliament – when your passion is politics there really is no better job.

I’m even more privileged to represent Edinburgh East: a constituency that takes in the magnificent natural beauty of Arthur’s Seat, our historic castle and a world heritage site. We are a European capital to be proud of.


10 September 2016

A Tale of Two Andrews

Andy Jansons, of Jansons Property Investors and Developers, is the luckiest property developer in the country. Peter Burnett explains why.

Born in Dunfermline in 1835, Andrew Carnegie was the model philanthropist. During the last 18 years of his life, Carnegie gave away about £265 million — in 2016 share of GDP, this would perhaps equate to something like £59 billion – around 90 percent of his fortune.


8 September 2016

Edinburgh’s age of endarkenment: development is ‘ripping heart from city’

Residents claim the ‘heart of Edinburgh’ is being ripped out by the development of public land in the Old Town, with the community – and the area’s world heritage status – under threat.

Just around the corner is the Central Library, opened in 1890. Above its arched entrance is the motto: “Let there be light.”

But that light is now in jeopardy, according to campaigners. They are protesting against development plans for a 235-bedroom hotel, restaurant, bar and retail space that will take over a site at the back of the library, on the Old Town’s lower level street, the Cowgate.


4 June 2016

PROTESTERS have set up camp in an Old Town car park in a bid to stop work starting on a £65 million hotel.

The six activists, who have been living in tents for almost two weeks, have been hand-delivered a letter warning them they will face legal action if they don’t quit their makeshift campsite, but so far they are refusing to move on.

The 225-bedroomed hotel is set to transform the old India Buildings on Victoria Street and land and buildings down to the Cowgate into a four or five star venue, featuring a bar, cafe, and restaurant.


14 May 2016

Clinic for homeless people to close amid ‘gentrification’ row

RESIDENTS of Edinburgh’s Old Town have rallied to defend homeless people as unlikely allies against the ‘gentrification’ of the city centre.

The Cowgate Clinic, officially known as the Edinburgh Access Initiative, faces closure to make way for a massive hotel and leisure development encompassing the historic India Buildings.


24 February 2016

Unesco acts over ‘threat’ to Edinburgh’s World Heritage status

Edinburgh’s world heritage site has been thrown into crisis over “deeply worrying” concerns by Unesco over the quality of new developments in the city and demands for an urgent overhaul of how it is protected.

Officials have told the UK Government of their “strong concern” about the level of protection for the Old and New towns after being lobbied about a string of controversial projects. The world heritage body has intervened after a team of international advisors warned them of a “significant threat” from new developments.


1 Nov 2015

Edinburgh’s world heritage status in peril as developers move in

As inspectors tour the city to reconsider Unesco billing, leading novelist denounces £850m plan

The formal recognition of Edinburgh as one of the world’s most beautiful cities is under threat amid a battle for the soul of its most historic quarter.

The city was inscribed as a Unesco world heritage site in 1995 for the beauty of its medieval old town and 18th-century new town but, following complaints from the public and architectural experts over a number of new buildings, inspectors from Icomos, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, which advises Unesco, have toured several of the most contentious sites.


Related press coverage of relevant issues

17 May 2017

First Andrew Carnegie Library transformed in £12.4m expansion

It is a project that has transformed the home of the world’s first Andrew Carnegie Library into Scotland’s newest architectural landmark.

The £12.4 million expansion for Dunfermline’s historic library and has been more than a dozen years in the planning stages in Carnegie’s home town in Fife.

But it has already won two architectural awards before it is officially opened and is expected to attract more than a quarter of a million visitors a year.


20 April 2017

Dunfermline’s Carnegie Library named building of the year

A multi-million pound extension to the world’s first Carnegie Library in Dunfermline has been named building of the year in a prestigious architectural competition.

Designed by Richard Murphy Architects, the Fife building was one of a record 57 entered for the 2017 Edinburgh Architectural Association (EAA) Awards.


24 January 2017

Libraries matter to Irvine Welsh

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, is backing a new campaign against library cuts in Scotland, saying his own local library helped make him a writer by opening up wider worlds to him as a child.

He has been in Scotland for the premiere in Edinburgh of the sequel film T2 Trainspotting, with the cast and director Danny Boyle. He took time to lend his support to a national campaign from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS).


18 Dec 2016

Parks, libraries, halls: cities pay price of austerity by selling their heritage

Across the country, architectural gems are being bought up by developers

Councils up and down the country have been accused of “selling off the crown jewels” in their efforts to cope with funding cuts and the impending loss of £18bn in central government grants.


29 Mar 2016

Libraries facing ‘greatest crisis’ in their history

Nearly 350 libraries have closed in UK over past six years, causing loss of almost 8,000 jobs, according to new analysis

Nearly 350 libraries have closed in Britain over the past six years, causing the loss of almost 8,000 jobs, according to new analysis.

In a controversial move that sparked protests by authors including Philip Pullman and Zadie Smith, councils across the country have shut their reading rooms in an effort to make deep savings.

Children’s author Alan Gibbons warned the public library service faced the “greatest crisis in its history


16 March 2017

Architecture: The slow ruin of Edinburgh

The planting of a “Golden Turd” in the heart of the city reveals grotesquely skewed planning priorities

If you go down to the east end of Princes Street in Edinburgh, and turn left onto Leith Street, you’ll find a very worn 1960s building at the centre of a construction site. The building in question—the St James Centre, a widely disliked shopping and hotel complex—is being gradually demolished in favour of something you can see depicted on the hoardings in front of you: a routine glass and stone-cladding mall, around a new hotel which is wrapped in a coil of orangey-gold fabric, in a style which can only be described as excremental.


8 November 2015

Small minds are ravaging Edinburgh’s beauty

The city’s great buildings were created by people who loved the city. They are being demolished by those who don’t

A spectre, thought happily to have been exorcised from the heart of beautiful Edinburgh, is stalking the city’s old wynds and crevices once more.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, it was given licence by those entrusted with guarding Edinburgh’s built heritage to embark on a wrecking spree through the heart of the city before finally being driven out. The damage, though, is still sorely evident on Princes Street. As I observed in my report last week, the city’s planners are once more failing wretchedly to heed the lessons of the past.


11 February 2015

Why Edinburgh should be stripped of its Unesco world heritage status

Recent planning decisions are trashing the historic centre of the Scottish capital – and its Unesco world heritage status isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on

It’s easy to see why Edinburgh, one of Britain’s most beautiful cities, is a magnet to visitors from across the world. It is also a place that instils pride and affection in those, like myself, who are native to it. Yet, this is a city that consistently undervalues its best asset: its historic centre.


Other websites posting about Central Library, Edinburgh

2 April 2017

SAVE Edinburgh Central Library

We need £27,000 to fund a court case to overturn City of Edinburgh Council’s planning consent of India Buildings planning application.

We did it!

On 28th May 2017 we successfully raised £27,283 of £27,000 target with 551 supporters in 56 days


1 April 2017

Campaign by Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust to Challenge “India Building” Planning Approval

The £65m scheme which includes the historic cluster known as India Buildings at the bottom of Victoria Street and Cowgatehead Church, across from the Grassmarket was approved in May 2016.

The consented development comprises a 200+ bed hotel with bar, restaurant, café as well as retail and commercial uses. The developer argues the scheme will bring the listed India Buildings back into use for the first time in 10 years.

[CORRECTION the legal challenge to the granting of the India Buildings planning application was mounted by Let There Be Light Edinburgh’s constituted group, SAVE Edinburgh Central Library: Let There Be Light and Land!]