Our assessment of the Virgin Hotel Edinburgh planning application (15/04445/FUL)

Some years ago, the City of Edinburgh Council decided to sell three listed-buildings on Victoria Street and Cowgate. They decided to dispose of public Common Good land on Cowgate too.

But, the people of Edinburgh said very little at the time. This was because we did not know about what was about to happen. 


Download our 235 page assessment of planning application 15/04445/FUL (Virgin Hotel Edinburgh) 


We were not asked for our views about our City Council’s plans to sell-off for development, some of our Common Good land and three publicly-owned listed buildings.

Planning permission was granted in 2016. This paved the way for the Common Good land and three listed buildings, to be sucked into a new 225 bed hotel – Virgin Hotel’s first venture outside North America.

Edinburgh Castle as seen from Edinburgh Central Library (2016). This view will be no more, if the proposed Virgin Hotel Edinburgh is built. Sir Richard Branson and Raul Leal on-site (2018) and Andrew Carnegie

Many years before all this, there was the young Scot who lived in Dunfermline. Andrew Carnegie was his name. He migrated to the US and became the World’s richest man. Andrew was thankful for his wealth and in return, he provided all the money needed to build almost 3,000 libraries around the World. One of these libraries stands right here, in the centre of Edinburgh’s Old Town.

Andrew Carnegie wanted Edinburgh Central Library to “grow in usefulness” and continue to provide the services we all expect.

Download our 235 page assessment of planning application 15/04445/FUL (Virgin Hotel Edinburgh)

Virgin Hotels have not started to have the foundations laid for their first Hotel outside North America. But Old Town Community Council (OTCC) and the communities we represent, believe the proposed Hotel is already seriously compromising the ability of Andrew Carnegie’s finest gift to the Nation – Edinburgh Central Library – to deliver what Andrew Carnegie had intended all those years ago.

Proposed view from George IV Bridge : what Virgin Hotel Edinburgh could look like (2015)

Written by a former Member of OTCC and with a multitude of contributions from individuals in Let There Be Light and further afield, this is our story of how the City of Edinburgh Council agreed to sell some of our public assets and allow the building of a Virgin Hotel here, in the centre of Old Town.

Please share widely.



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