Take Action

 

 1. Sign the petition:

2. Come to one of our regular campaign meetings:

3. Contact your representatives:

4.

To financially support the legal action to ‘SAVE Edinburgh Central Library’ in taking Edinburgh Council to court to challenge the planning consent for this outrageous hotel:


 

Besides supporting the Judicial Review, with the Council elections fast approaching (4th May) this is the idea opportunity to contact political parties and prospective candidates to put the issue of Edinburgh Central Library high on the agenda.

 

So if you have a moment to spare please ask that:

 

The future of the Central Library becomes a top priority for the next Council administration, recognising the previous palpable dereliction of care, as revealed by the Council commissioned Conservation and Strategic studies of the Library, available to download here:

 

 

As the 1st UNESCO World City of Literature the current situation is an embarrassment to the city and a disgrace to the legacy of founder Andrew Carnegie.

 

To ensure the Library’s future, fit for the UNESCO title and worthy of a capital city, taking a lead from the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, the compulsory purchase of the Cowgate gap site, otherwise long intended for the benefit of the Library, must be ensured, and the respective development guided by exemplar public consultation and engagement throughout the process.

 

See below for a template letter.

 


Template Letter:

 

To whom it may concern:

 

With the approaching Council elections in May, and with the current Council administration failing to uphold the coalition pledges of 2012* in regards to the proposed India Buildings hotel development, the future development of the Central Library should be a top priority project for a new administration.

As the 1st UNESCO World City of Literature the current situation, as revealed by the India Buildings debacle, is an embarrassment to the City and a disgrace to the legacy of founder Andrew Carnegie.

Taking a lead from the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, to ensure the Library’s future, fit for the UNESCO title and worthy of a capital city, the compulsory purchase of the Cowgate gap site, otherwise long intended for the benefit of the Library, must be secured, and the respective Library re-development guided by exemplar public consultation and engagement throughout.

Currently, the proposed India Buildings hotel on Victoria Street, extending to the Cowgate, (Application: 15/04445/FUL), would fundamentally compromise the future of the Central Library, affecting the setting of this Category A listed building by significantly overshadowing the west face resulting in the loss of key iconic views of Edinburgh Castle, in addition to taking land in the Cowgate, otherwise long set aside for the benefit of the Library’s future expansion needs.

The local community consider the proposed hotel development would have very serious, long term, implications for the Old Town and the reputation of the City, and regard the Council’s planning report for the hotel to have been significantly flawed, presenting insufficient, misleading, contradictory information, representing a conflict of interests given the disposal of implicated public assets. Moreover, key documents obtained since the hearing were withheld from Councillors which would have likely returned a verdict of REFUSAL, given that planning consent was only narrowly granted by 8 votes to 6.

The proposed hotel development was opposed by all local ward councillors, MSP’s, the local MP, the Community Council and surrounding Community Council’s, as well as respected cultural and heritage groups, in addition to many thousands of Citizens who have signed the petition “Let There Be Light In Edinburgh’s Old Town”.

Having failed to appeal to Scottish Ministers to call in the application, the planning permission for the proposed hotel is now being challenged in court through a Judicial Review.

As an additional complimentary action, in attempting to revoke planning permission for the hotel, an appeal to Edinburgh Council, to enact Section 65  of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, is being pursued by the Old Town Community Council, recognising that, in the national interest, under exceptional circumstances, it would be extremely expedient to do so.

I wish to lend support to the Section 65 action and the compulsory purchase of the Cowgate gap site while raising these further concerns:

  • In spite of recent Community Empowerment legislation and the Council’s pledge to work together with local communities, a council where co-operation, fairness, accountability and responsibility really matter, the proposed India Buildings development has resulted in the disposal of three very significant public assets without any public consultation to discuss alternative options. These assets are:

  1. The gap site of the Cowgate, otherwise long set aside to further develop the Central Library as a key cultural asset integral to Edinburgh’s status as the first UNESCO World City of Literature, thereby honouring the legacy of founder, Scots born Andrew Carnegie, whose desired that the Library “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.”

  2. The Cowgatehead Church, a long established NHS access point used by the most vulnerable in the community, to be converted to a licensed venue in an area of over provision.
  3. 11-15 Victoria Street (adjoining tenement to India Buildings) which, with the serious decline in the local settled population, the community wish to see converted to long term residential property.
  • Having been inspired by Robert Burns and the Scottish Enlightenment, in recognition of Carnegie’s finest Scottish library, and one of the first of many thousands the great philanthropist established throughout the World, Edinburgh Central Library was recommended for upgrade to Category A listing in 2002 and endorsed by the Council in 2004. However, in a serious dereliction of duty, the Library remained a B listed building and was not upgraded until 2016, after the hotel had been granted consent. Given the evidence, had the Library been afforded the recognition and protection of Category A listing the proposed hotel would have almost certainly been REFUSED.

  • Following a litany of damning articles in the national and international press, UNESCO have stated that the proposed hotel is “one of seven developments it has strong concerns about”, warning that the cumulative effects of ‘inappropriate development’ is anongoing threat to Edinburgh’s World Heritage status.

  • The Grassmarket/ Cowgate is highlighted as an Air Quality Management Area with excessive levels of congestion, noise and air pollution, in breach of EU regulations. This was recognised in the Council’s own environmental impact assessment for the hotel which recommended REFUSAL.
  • The local community and all local Councillors have voiced strong concerns that the balance between residential and tourist led development is now seriously compromised.

If the Council is not prepared to honour the legacy and aspirations of Andrew Carnegie, the local community wish to acquire and develop these public assets for the benefit of the Nation and future generations, using crowd funding and the Community Empowerment Act,

realising a World class re-visioning of the Central Library

that would safeguard the library service

and enrich the reputation of this

City of Literature, World Heritage

and Enlightenment.

* “We pledge to be a council that does things “with people” rather than “to people”. This is a Council that will listen to, and work with, local people. There needs to be strong process for looking at the quality of how the Council has reached decisions so that there is genuine scrutiny and questioning of the actions it has taken. We also need to acknowledge 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… The City will be able to judge the Council against this promise”.
– CEC Coalition statement of term of office (2012-17)