Friday, 1 May 2009

Odeon debate

A couple of weeks ago there was a letter in the Scotsman which is part of a campaign to have Historic Scotland call in for full enquiry the decision last October by the Planning Committee about the Odeon. On 29th October the Planning Committee approved a proposal which would retain the Art Deco frontage but allow the auditorium to be demolished to enable a boutique hotel and art centre. For previous correspondence in the Scotsman on this issue see here and here. This last letter was published on 16th April and today the Scotsman has published (eventually) my response which I append in full below.

IN the next few weeks, Historic Scotland may decide the fate of the former Odeon cinema in Clerk Street, Edinburgh. Or perhaps they will continue the saga that has now gone on for six years.
And that is the point. The community has for six years had a potential asset in its midst which has lain virtually unused. This is planning blight – or more accurately, listed building blight.

The auditorium, which the current campaigners seek to save (Letters, 16 April) is B-listed and worthy of retention, but not at any cost. In this case the shadow of procedural delay and uncertainty has an opportunity cost which is to the detriment of the city.
The campaigners seek to correct an alleged wrong in process. And there is room for argument on the predicted future economic viability of the site with the auditorium retained. Nonetheless, I have viewed the documents on which they apparently found their arguments and am far from convinced they lead to the conclusions they seek to draw. I believe it is time to bring this lengthy procedural review to an end and endorse the decision which has already been taken by the planning committee.


Anonymous said...

Published Date: 05 May 2009
Councillor Cameron Rose (Letters, 1 May) writes to you in support of the current planning application to demolish the Odeon cinema in Clerk Street, Edinburgh. As his predecessor as councillor for the Southside area of the capital, I resisted this proposal on the grounds that no case had been made to show that the listed building could not be retained in use.

At least one consortium approached the owners, Duddingston Properties, to purchase the property in order to develop a mixed-use proposal which would have retained all the features of architectural interest. Duddingston Properties refused their offers on a number of occasions even though the sum offered was considerably more than they originally paid for the building.

I know Cllr Rose to be an active and capable councillor. However, I am sorry that on this occasion he seems to have been taken in by the worst kind of property speculation.


Ratcliffe Terrace


CR said...

Thanks anonymous. I expect as the decision date gets nearer there will be more letters to add. I have sent the Scotsman a reply to Bob Cairns' very courteous letter.

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