Planners back EICC extension

Edinburgh planning chiefs will recommend the proposed extension of the city’s international conference centre (EICC) gets the go-ahead when councillors meet on 28 October.

The EICC is also hopeful that its proposed payment towards construction of new tram services is likely to be slashed to £830k from £1.4m.

EICC chief executive Hans Rissmann, OBE, tells conference-news: “Our customers are very excited about our plans. We have a few final hurdles to overcome but the prospect of delivering our additional function space in a little over three years time is a powerful motivator. It also sends a clear message to the marketplace that destination Edinburgh intends to remain a leader in Europe.”

Local heritage bodies, including the Cockburn Association, have not given up the fight to stop the £85m expansion which, if realised, will see an eight-storey office block developed on top of a new underground atrium.

Cases committee officer for the association, Yvonne Holton, says: “Both the atrium extension and the office block are too massive in scale. They obscure the principle facade of the existing conference centre.”

The original EICC masterplan architect Sir Terry Farrell has also waded in, accusing the current architects of having an “insensitive disregard” for the building. He believes the atrium extension “should be of a light-weight glazed construction rising to no more than two storeys”.

The council’s head of planning, John Bury, is recommending the development’s approval, claiming it “will contribute positively to this area”.

A local police view appears to be that not enough has been done to protect the EICC extension from a terrorist attack. Because the EICC hosts high-profile events for up to 3,000 people, police judge it to be “the type of venue that may be a potential target for terrorist or extremist activity”.

Lothian and Borders Police is calling for laminated glass to be installed: “Historically in the UK it has been shown that the majority of serious injuries or fatalities resulting from the detonation of vehicle borne explosive devices are caused by flying or falling glass.”

Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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