Royal High School up for grabs

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By ALEXANDER LAWRIE

THE HISTORIC building once feted as the home of Scottish politics is up for grabs again.

The former Royal High School, situated on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill, may be one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

 But the local council says it struggling to find anyone to use the iconic building.

A new vision for the A-listed structure as a cultural attraction or visitor centre, unveiled over a year ago, has failed to generate any interest.

Owners Edinburgh Council has recently withdrawn its backing for a proposed national photography centre long earmarked for the site.

Five-star hotel development

Now the council is pinning its hopes on an international business contest triggering a new proposal for the area.

The city’s council chiefs are thought to be in favour of a five-star hotel development.

It is also considering proposals to turn the historic building into modern apartments, shops or offices.

Exciting plans for a brand new photography centre emerged eight years ago and was inspired by the two men considered as the fathers of modern photography, David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, who honed their skills at a studio at Calton Hill.

The Sir Sean Connery-backed venture is thought to be the only serious proposal to be put forward to the council for the site’s re-use since then.

The local authority agreed to inject £1 million of its budget to get the project up and running, but plans have stalled since the Scottish Government warned it was unlikely to support the plans.

The council has since dropped its financial offer with sources claiming the idea was “effectively dead”.

Great cultural significance

A spokeswoman said: “The Royal High was designed by Thomas Hamilton and built between 1825 and 1829. It is widely regarded as one of Europe’s finest neoclassical buildings.”

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city’s economic development leader, said: “It is a building of great cultural and historical significance. It is therefore vital that we find a use which reflects its status.

“This competition provides an exciting opportunity for business and individuals to secure the long-term future of an Edinburgh landmark.”

The old Royal High School was favourite to become the home for the Scottish Parliament until Donald Dewar, the then First Minister, opted for a new building at Holyrood.

The school closed in 1968 with its pupils moving to a new school in Barnton.

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