Capital developments

Edinburgh’s cultural life is set for further upheaval with the announcement of a pair of major renovation projects, as Allan Radcliffe reports.

After months of wrangling, the City of Edinburgh council’s planning committee has green-lit the £200 million ‘Caltongate’ development. The controversial proposal will see the area around the old New Street bus depot transformed to accommodate a new public square, more than 200 new homes, a conference centre with a bridge linking it to a five star hotel, bars, restaurants and cafés. As reported in The List earlier this year, energetic members of the Save our Old Town campaign ( are worried that the development will lead to several listed buildings being demolished. These may include the Old Sailor’s Ark and the Canongate Venture building, while it is also feared that the view from Jeffrey Street to Calton Hill will be obscured.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the capital, the Usher Hall is to close at the end of next year’s Edinburgh Festival while it undergoes a major re-development in the form of a glass extension, housing a cafe-bar, box office and hospitality suites. The closure will affect the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) which had planned to stage 19 concerts at the flagship concert venue, which will re-open in August 2008.

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