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Protest over multi million pound redevelopment of Edinburgh

FeeTodd | 19.04.2007 23:00 | Culture | Ecology | History

Demonstrations have taken place throughout the city on redevelopment plans which may mean the demolition of some of Edinburgh's most historic and listed buildings. Protesters from 'Save Our Old Town' (SOOT) demonstrated on the Royal Mile outside the City Chambers as the Council discussed the £300 million development plans of both the Canongate and Market Street. With these, and many more 'redevelopment' plans for around the city, Edinburgh is changing quickly, and the Old Town is being destroyed quicker than you can say 'Listed Buildings'.

Links: Canongate Community Forum (SOOT) | Save Glenogle Baths Campaign | Save Meadowbanks Campaign | 600 protest against Meadowbank Stadium destruction

protesters against regeneration
protesters against regeneration

The current talks which are going under way are for the planning permission for the concrete foundations to be laid on the development site. Ken Skeel, protester, outlined the difficulties which may arise if these plans are granted. “If these get the go-ahead, but the actual buildings do not get through the final stages, then it will mean that the concrete will already have been laid, then what will be do?”

The proposed demolition will be to make way for almost two hundred flats and apartments (twenty eight of which will be dedicated to social housing), a conference centre, a 5-star hotel, new retail units, and private parking for all new facilities. (

Alongside the physical changes the council are also proposing changing the names of some of the city's oldest streets: East Market Street will be renamed 'Parliament Way' and a large area of Canongate will be changed to 'Caltongate'.

Loaded with badges and placards they made the passing public aware of the changes which are being proposed. As plans progress to demolish some of Edinburgh's listed buildings the group are not resting on their laurels. With frequent public meetings in the Old Town they plan to inform the public as to what will be happening to the area.

Their support is not only confined to Edinburgh residents though, many tourists also take the information and look at their website ( from worldwide. Ken Skeel said: “Edinburgh is dependent on tourism, and this doesn't seem to make them happy.” Some of Edinburgh's most famous views will be disrupted if these plans go ahead, including the view to Calton Hill from the Royal Mile.

Two years into their battle with the council to save some of Edinburgh's most historic buildings, they are still eager to get the word out to the public. For the first 18 months of the campaign they were financing themselves, but now they are holding more fund raising events around the Canongate area.

Meg Adams, one of the protesters said: “We are no longer a proactive group, we are reactive, the council don't tell us anything any more. They did in the beginning, but now they are too scared.”

Their next meeting is on the 28th of April in the old St Paul's Church, Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh. At this meeting the detailed plans from the council will be available, and everyone who is interested in the cause is welcome.

This is only a small aspect of the 'grand regeneration' of Edinburgh. With luxury flats being built in the 'Platinum Point' development from Leith to Granton which will include an estimated 8,500 new residences with a starting prices of £219,000 up to over half a million pounds.

The protests over the demolition and move of the Meadowbank Sport Stadium has today been successful as the Edinburgh City Council have agreed that they will 'rethink' their plans, and keep the current running track. However, they are still proposing the same number of residential houses to be built ont he plot. Over 6000 people signed the petition to save the stadium.

The 'Quarter Mile' development is currently under way, and has replaced the old Royal Infirmary hospital on Lauriston Place into a new retail, residential and office facility. The Infirmary stood in that site since 1879, and now housing prices are in the new complex are £300,000 upwards.

Plans to refurbish Glenogle Baths - one of the remaining five 'baths' in the city - have also been overtaken with the prospect of demolition, however, final decisions have been postponed until after the May election.

With these, and many more 'redevelopment' plans for around the city, Edinburgh is changing quickly, and the Old Town is being destroyed quicker than you can say 'Listed Buildings'.



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