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Planning permission was approved by The City of Edinburgh Council for the redevelopment of the Category A Listed Donaldson’s College last week.

Working in partnership, City & Country will restore and convert the majestic Playfair building, whilst CALA Evans will create a range of contemporary homes in the surrounding grounds.

The permission allows for 115 new properties sited within the Playfair building, ranging from one to three bedrooms and 84 newly built two and three bedroom homes, designed in a crescent shape to the rear of the Playfair building. The sweeping South Lawn that faces Wester Coates will be retained as an open, landscaped area.

As part of the proposals there will be 402 cycle parking spaces for residents, whilst car parking for both the Playfair building and the new build crescent will be sited underground, totalling 364 allocated residents spaces and a further 26 for visitors.

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Helen Moore, Managing Director of City & Country, commented: “We are extremely pleased that The City of Edinburgh Council has approved our plans for this truly majestic building.

“City & Country has a long and distinguished history working with incredibly inspiring and challenging architectural assets and the Playfair building is no different, sitting amongst some of the very finest buildings in the UK.

“The apartments will be carefully woven into the historic fabric of the building to provide genuinely unique places for people to live. Sited within the Edinburgh World Heritage Site, we are pleased that our plans demonstrate the ambitions we have to breathe new life into this icon of Scottish architecture and we cannot wait to get started.”

Landscape proposals for the site have also been submitted which seek to enhance the mature landscaping at the site’s perimeter. The new build crescent will have private garden areas to the rear, whilst the Playfair building’s internal courtyard will serve as a private open space for residents with the remainder of the open spaces communal.

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The proposed alterations to the Playfair building are mostly internal and include the conversion of currently redundant basement and attic spaces. External alterations to the building are located on the inner courtyard side including new dormers and roof terraces, a change of windows to doors and the landscape proposals for the internal courtyard.

David McGrath, Managing Director of CALA Homes (East) said: “We’re absolutely delighted that city planners have approved our proposals and are now very much looking forward to delivering top quality homes at very special location.

“Donaldson’s is a magnificent site and therefore its restoration is quite rightly a very high-profile project and one which we are proud to have been driving forward for a number of years.

“Throughout the community and council planning consultation process it has been very reassuring to see how committed everyone has been to seeing this site restored.

“We held a series of public consultations about the updated proposals, which were first approved in 2007, and listened carefully to extensive feedback. The local community all stated how important it is to see this building secured for future generations and we can now looking forward to making this a reality.”

Donaldson’s College boasts a rich history. Formerly Donaldson’s Hospital, the building was constructed between 1842 and 1851 after its benefactor, James Donaldson, bequeathed all of his property to build and found a hospital for children after his death. The striking design is the master work of renowned visionary architect William Henry Playfair, whose other famous work includes the National Monument and the National Gallery of Scotland.

During construction of the palatial building, it is said that Queen Victoria expressed her jealousy that the landmark building outclassed some of her own palaces. The building’s first use was a hospital for orphans, before turning into a specialist school for deaf children. The school relocated to Linlithgow in 2008.

The site enjoys a prime location in the prestigious Wester Coates area of Edinburgh and is close to all the facilities and amenities of the city centre. Haymarket Railway Station is short walk away and provides regular services throughout Scotland and south to London, whilst Edinburgh International Airport is approximately 13 miles away, offering a wide range of domestic and international flights.

The City Bypass and central Scotland motorway network are also within striking distance and the streets surrounding the development are characterised by striking Victorian and Edwardian villas.

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