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To: Local Councillors, Scottish Ministers

"Let There Be Light" in Edinburgh's Old Town

"Let There Be Light" in Edinburgh's Old Town

Safeguard the public land in the Old Town World Heritage conservation area at the Cowgatehead next to the Central Library which is currently threatened by a proposed 9 storey, 225 bed speculative hotel development extending to the India Buildings on Victoria Street.

Why is this important?

The land in question has been left undeveloped for 40 years specifically for the purposes of an extension to the Central Library, thereby honouring the Library's founder Andrew Carnegie who desired that the Central Library:

"grow in usefulness year after year, and prove one of the most potent agencies for the good of the people of Edinburgh for all time to come".

With planning permission now granted for the massive proposed hotel this would significantly overshadow the library, with natural light levels projected to decline by up to 80%, thereby fundamentally compromising this important category A listed building, regarded as the finest example of a Carnegie endowed library in Scotland, whose motto above the main entrance is ironically “Let There Be Light”!

Besides impinging on the library, the hotel will have a serious impact on the wider area adding to the excessive levels of congestion, noise and air pollution (already in breach of regulations and noted as one of the most polluted streets in Scotland), as a direct consequence of the over provision of existing hotels, hostels, student accommodation, bars, cafés, restaurants, late night clubs etc.

This excessive commercial pressure is fundamentally undermining the well being of the local community and casting doubt on both the future liveability for residents and the credibility of the Outstanding Universal Value of the Old Town World Heritage.

Given the slavish relationship to the construct of the current discredited economic model and the dire financial predicament of the Council, precipitated through a litany of mismanagement and scandal, a hotel is seen as the only use that can attract the capital receipt targets identified. Yet in pursuing the disposal of this precious land for yet another hotel the Council has undertaken NO public consultation as to alternative uses for the site.

Inspired by the recently passed Community Empowerment Act, were this application to be called in and successfully challenged the local community wish to pursue the long held aspiration of developing the land at the Cowgate for the benefit of the Library and are confident of raising funds, inspired by the legacy of Carnegie, through philanthropic endeavour.

This aspiration envisions a low level extension featuring a roof top garden dedicated to enlightened figures such as Andrew Carnegie and Patrick Geddes. This would ensure that the original library building was protected from overshadowing and the Outstanding Universal Value of the area enhanced, while mitigating pollution and developing further the reputation of the City for the benefit of generations to come.

For more info see:



As well as signing the petition please add comments below which will be forwarded to political representatives.

Images of the proposed hotel can be viewed at:

“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library; this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration. A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.”
- Andrew Carnegie

“Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.” - Andrew Carnegie

How it will be delivered

In person and by email


Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


Reasons for signing

  • Edinburgh deserves a good, modern library with a pleasant outlook to welcome locals and act as a central information point and social hub. The city centre is dying out, suffocated by uninspired buildings, especially hotels and student lodgings. I have absolutely no problem with either tourists or students but enough is enough. Our city needs balance. Our World Heritage status depends on intelligent, sympathetic development.
  • apart from all other reasons / considerations expressed so well to date I believe there are more than reasonable concerns over the legality of the decision making
  • As a stand against the pattern of gentrification, and the selling off of public land, which is dominating the UK and destroying public fabric.


2017-05-26 00:01:24 +0100

5,000 signatures reached

2016-04-20 00:11:39 +0100

1,000 signatures reached

2015-11-19 12:07:28 +0000

500 signatures reached

2015-11-13 18:30:02 +0000

100 signatures reached

2015-11-13 17:48:08 +0000

50 signatures reached

2015-11-13 17:32:19 +0000

25 signatures reached

2015-11-13 17:26:27 +0000

10 signatures reached