Updated plans to restore the magnificent Donaldson’s School building in Edinburgh have been unveiled.
Heritage restoration specialist, City & Country, has made public the detail of its proposals to transform the Playfair building into residential homes.
The revised master plan of the site provides fine details of the proposed newly built properties to the north of the Category A-listed building, by development partner CALA.
Both City & Country and CALA have been involved in consultation with local residents, businesses and other stakeholders about updating planning consents, first approved in 2007, to reflect major changes in the property market.
Helen Moore, Managing Director of City & Country, said: “We are excited about presenting these detailed new plans to both the public and council planners, as we believe this represents the best possible future for the site to safeguard this truly iconic building.
“Within the Playfair building itself we hope to create 115 stylish conversion apartments and while this is more than previously consented, this is due to creative space planning and utilising all spaces within the building including attics and basements.
“Not only will this create a more varied mix of property types, it also means there will be virtually no vulnerable void areas reducing the risk to the building, while the cost of conserving it for the benefit of future generations will be shared across more home owners.
“Another benefit of the revised proposals is that it will allow us to retain more of the historic features, such as staircases and fireplaces.”
The principles of the revised proposals remain true to the approved planning permission from 2007 – notably that there will be no additions or extensions to the existing building and the South lawn will remain an open, grassed area.
Also, the crescent of new build apartments to the North of the site broken in the centre and parking for all residents will be within discrete underground car parks.
Suggested changes to the new build development would see a small increase in the number of apartments from 72 to 86, while a slight increase in the height of the buildings is also being sought.
CALA will create a varied mix of property types, all offering stunning panoramic views of the Donaldson’s building and its 17 acre setting.
David McGrath, managing director of CALA Homes (East) said: “This is a special site and our designs have been carefully shaped to fit the context of the setting.
“Our proposal celebrates this historic building, which is the site’s most impressive feature. Anyone living in our new apartments will enjoy the unique view of Donaldson’s every day.
“The changes we are proposing not only reflect the best advances in design of the past seven years, it also means we are meeting changes in the market to deliver the style and quality of homes that people actually want today.
“One of the advantages of the revised plans is that we will be able to deliver a far greater mix of properties, including true family units, with the inclusion of main door access apartments with private gardens.
"CALA will provide a wide range of property styles within The Crescent, a unique street scape characterised by space and light. This development will broaden the market offering in Edinburgh and will appeal to a wide range of buyers in all stages of life, creating both a sense of community and a sense of place."
In November 2014 it was announced that site owners CALA Evans would be working in partnership with City & Country to progress the Donaldson’s redevelopment. A public consultation event was held on February 3, with more than 240 people turning out for the opportunity to meet the new team from both CALA and City & Country.
Almost 100 of those who attended also took the chance to provide written feedback on what they thought was appropriate to secure the long term future of the site.
All of that feedback was reviewed and considered by the development partners before the revised plans were drawn up for the next public consultation on March 19. It is hoped a formal planning application will be submitted to Edinburgh Council in May.
City & Country is a family owned business, founded in 1962 and is renowned as a specialist in the restoration and conversion of historic and listed buildings into unique dwellings. Every project the business has ever delivered has won awards but most recently City & Country was crowned 2014 What House? Housebuilder of the Year.
CALA Homes is a premium national homebuilder operating throughout Scotland, the South East of England and the Midlands. It was named Medium Housebuilder of the Year at the What House? Awards in 2012 and again in 2013 when it also won overall Housebuilder of the Year.
On his death in 1830, local newspaper editor James Donaldson bequeathed all his property, to build a Hospital for Boys and Girls, to be called "Donaldson's Hospital and in 1838 the eminent Edinburgh Architect William Henry Playfair was appointed to design the new building.
It was largely unchanged until the 1950s, apart from work to repair Zeppelin damage caused in 1916.
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