Rising from the ashes

In 2002 the largest fire in Edinburgh’s recent history devastated a multi owned city tenement block straddling South Bridge and Cowgate. Formerly the J&R Allan department store, the property had been sub-divided in 1986 and lacked a coherent management regime, resulting in the fire starting in a faulty fusebox.

SoCo building 3D render
Rat Race Urban Adventure on SoCo site
SoCo street 3D render

Seeing the opportunity for regeneration of this unique part of the City which we christened SoCo, Whiteburn negotiated to consolidate the ownerships (a complex 18 month site assembly process), and in July 2006, Whiteburn bought in the 9 freehold interests making up the site.

Throughout the process Whiteburn tested the market for a hotel-led multi use development, to be constructed in the sensitive setting of Edinburgh’s Old and New Town UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Working with Allan Murray Architects, using the City of Edinburgh’s planning brief as reference point, we evolved a place making mix use scheme which made links between South Bridge, Chambers Street and Cowgate – creating a new stepped courtyard, typical of traditional Old Town settings.

After extensive consultation with Historic Scotland, politicians and local interest groups, Whiteburn secured planning and listed buildings consent for a 228 bed hotel with retail and leisure space over 10 levels in 2008.

Amid rising global gloom, a forward sale agreement with an international group fell through at the onset of the financial crash. In 2010 we identified a development partner Jansons Properties, who secured the necessary investment to see the development carried out, albeit it in a modified form, with Whiteburn undertaking Development Management.

The development was successfully completed in 2014.