Edinburgh concert hall: Dunard Centre height reduced after St James Centre row

REVISED plans to build the first concert hall in Edinburgh for more than a century have been drawn up after a legal row with the company behind a new shopping centre forced the height of the building to be scaled back by seven metres.

Impact Scotland, the charitable trust behind the Dunard Centre, proposed to be built next to the St James Centre in the heart of the New Town, was forced back to the drawing board after shopping centre bosses threatened the development with legal action.

Last January, Impact Scotland agreed to redesign the venue after Nuveen Real Estate, the company behind the shopping centre which opened its doors in June, threatened a judicial review unless changes were made.

Nuveen claimed that views from its centrepiece hotel, the design of which has split opinion in the capital, would be blocked by the cultural venue – forcing the height to be scaled back.

Despite speculation the capacity may have to be reduced, the new plans are set to maintain the 1,000-person auditorium. But a small studio in the basement of the venue has been axed – while a planned large foyer has been scaled back.

The highest point of the building has been reduced by seven metres.

Proposed rooms for education events and meetings have been retained under the updated plans, as well as the cafe bar – while the foyer will still have potential for informal performances.

A variation to the planning permission is being submitted this week and if granted, construction will begin next year and hopefully open in 2025.

The Dunard Centreb secured planning permission in April 2019 before the threat of legal action.

HeraldScotland: The proposed Dunard CentreThe proposed Dunard Centre

Co-chairman of Impact Scotland, Fergus Linehan, said: “We are delighted to unveil the stunning design for the Dunard Centre which will be a truly transformational venue in the heart of Edinburgh.

“The restrictions throughout the pandemic have highlighted the enormous contribution participating in the performing arts, whether as an audience member or a performer, makes to our wellbeing.

“It is a great honour to be leading a project which will make such a positive and inspiring contribution to the city’s cultural rebuild.”

The £75 million project includes £50 million of funding from private philanthropy and fundraising.

As part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, the UK and Scottish governments are each providing £10 million, and City of Edinburgh Council has contributed £5 million.

HeraldScotland: The height of the Dunard Centre has been lowered after concerns from the St James CentreThe height of the Dunard Centre has been lowered after concerns from the St James Centre

Sir David Chipperfield, who designed the venue, said: “Tucked behind Dundas House and on axis with George Street, the Dunard Centre occupies a strategic site linking the formal qualities of St Andrew Square and the New Town with the more intimate atmosphere of lanes around Register House towards the new St James Quarter.

“The identity of the building is determined by its circular form, contributing to the silhouette of the city and enclosing a 1,000-seat hall.

“This flexible world-class facility is designed to adapt to a wide-ranging programme of performances and cultural activities, ensuring it will serve as a meaningful new addition to the life and fabric of Edinburgh.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992