Music school recommended for iconic Edinburgh building

EDINBURGH councillors are to be asked to approve a recommendation that a music school takes ownership of the former Royal High School, one of the city’s most iconic buildings.

The recommendation is to be considered by an upcoming meeting (taking place in two days’ time) of the city council’s finance and resources committee, the music school being proposed by the Royal High School Preservation Trust, on behalf of the local St Mary’s Music School.

In July, the building was placed on the market – after plans for a luxury hotel were rejected – and two bids were received by the closing date of the third of last month. The second bid was for a ‘care village’.

The property is to be made available on a long lease, as announced here, when the building was placed on the market.

The RHSPT bid (read more about it, here) also includes plans for a national school of music.

Says the recommendation to be considered by councillors (here): “Of the two bids received, the information provided by RHSPT provides a greater level of certainty, at this stage, around the potential deliverability of the proposal.

“The scheme is based on amendments to an existing planning consent; funding for the development has been demonstrated; and the proposed use is acceptable, protecting its prominent position and allowing future public access.

“The establishment of a National School of Music would be of strategic significance to the city.

“The care village concept, whilst likely acceptable as a future use of the property, does not provide sufficient information to offset the potential risks and therefore, by comparison, offers a higher risk profile of the two bids received.

“Whilst the financial offering could, in principle, offer a greater return to the council over the longer term, it is considered that the risks attached are too significant.  

“In conclusion, it is recommended that the proposal from RHSPT is selected as the preferred option for the site.”

Picture credit: Place Design Scotland

Update: October 7 – councillors approve the recommendation