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keeping the door open

Keeping The Door Open, Edinburgh

Letters of support please!

posted July 2009

The planning officer currently dealing with our application for the new chapel dropped a bombshell last week by suggesting to our architects that he was considering recommending that the Council refuse the whole scheme. This goes completely against the indications we have had with planners previously dealing with the case. Although the public consultation period for the application has officially passed, we have been advised that it is not too late for us to send in letters of support for the application. We hope this will sway the Planning Department to recommend approval to the councillors on the Planning Committee.

Letters by email or hard copy should be addressed to John Bury, Director of Planning, City of Edinburgh Council, Waverley Court, 4 East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BG ( and copied to the four councillors for the Southdside/Newington Ward,;;;

You might also want to contact your own local councillors. It is vital that you also send a copy to us:

Head your letter:  

Planning Application: 23-24 George Square, Edinburgh; Ref: 09/00024/FUL

It is important that you write in your own words, since the Council is suspicious of identically worded letters. But please use the points below as a guideline of what to say.

  • The present chapel, with a capacity of under a 100 is too small for the existing parish community, which comprises staff and students from the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh College of Art, as well other people who come from across Edinburgh and even from outside .
  • We have to have five masses on Sundays to meet the demand which fragments the community. Even so the most popular mass has the overflow congregation spilling out on to the landing and stairs.
  • The first floor location of the chapel makes access difficult for anyone with mobility problems. Some infirm members of the congregation have had to stop coming to Mass.
  • We have examined ways of creating a larger, accessible chapel in the basement of 23-24 but there is no possibility.
  • We have looked at the possibility of using other buildings such as disused churches in the central university area but nothing suitable was identified.
  • In any case the existing buildings have a historic connection with the Dominicans, and it is because of their presence in the 1960s that the west side of George Square it escaped the fate of the rest of the square.
  • The planning department have been consulted from the earliest days of the project and we would not have progressed it to this stage if any fundamental objection had been raised
  • There was not a single objection to the application when it was publicly advertised.
  • Neither the Cockburn Association nor the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland commented (these are the two main voluntary conservation watchdogs)
  • The new chapel will allow the first floor of No. 24 to be restored to its former glory, which is a gain in conservation terms.
  • If the proposal for the chapel is rejected there is a real possibility the Dominicans will abandon Edinburgh, which would be a disaster not only for the parish but for the wider civic community.