Edinburgh ‘ribbon’ hotel wins approval

Controversial plans to build a new hotel at the heart of Edinburgh’s new St James commercial centre development have been given the green light, despite concerns that its centrepiece ‘ribbon’ design could “damage” the city’s skyline.

The Jestico + Whiles designed plan was recommended for refusal as it went before the City of Edinburgh Council’s development management sub-committee on Wednesday.

Planners insisted the luxury hotel would have an adverse impact on the surrounding listed buildings and harm Edinburgh’s status as a World Heritage Site.

However councillors on the committee went against the recommendation of their own planners to give their approval for the building, although a final decision is yet to be made over the material used to construct its trademark coiled ribbon design.

The striking design is seen as key to the wider success of the St James development in order to attract a five-star hotel operator and high-end retailers to neighbouring new shop units.

A final say on the issue has been delayed until a later date. Work on the site set to begin as early as next year.

Designs for the 210-room, 12-storey project were submitted in April after London based architects Jestico + Whiles were appointed by TH Real Estate to create a ‘landmark’ build for the St James mall revamp.

The hotel is shown to have a bulbous building wrapped in ribbons of bronze cladding and would include a rooftop bar with panoramic views. Luxury apartments, 30 restaurants and a cinema are also proposed for the site, with completion expected in 2020.

In their planning application, Jestico and Whiles said the coiled ribbons design would evoke both the “festival spirit of Edinburgh” and the “fabric forms of high fashion” for which they hope the area will become known for.

The application said: “The ribbon emerges from the retail levels below in a flourish that initially unruly, settles on a building form until at the uppermost levels it ‘unravels’ and crescendos into a contemporary elegant spire like form soaring above roof level.

“The ribbon wraps a simple, continuous, 360 degree glass façade on a tear drop shaped building footprint, grounded to its historical context by a central sandstone clad core running through the height of the building.”

The spiralling ribbon would stretch 19m above the roof level, with a publicly accessible viewing platform on the 12th floor.

The wider £850m redevelopment of the St James Centre was approved in July, despite criticism over the use of limestone cladding rather than traditional New Town sandstone.

It will house 750,000 sq ft of retail space, 30 restaurants and a multi-screen cinema. Work will start later this year and in due to be completed by 2020.

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