The design for the St James ‘Ribbon Hotel’ has received approval from councillors, despite controversy over its potential to mar Edinburgh’s status as a World Heritage Site.
The project, which had entailed an investment of £850m, is awaiting a decision on whether a distinctive copper swirl could deck the ‘ribbon’, according to a report by Edinburgh news.
The project has been facing opposition, with officials debating how the building could impact the city’s skyline.
TH Real Estate director of development Martin Perry said: "We are absolutely delighted that the City of Edinburgh Council has backed our vision for Edinburgh St James.
"We are now focused on the next phase of our plans for this landmark development, providing Edinburgh with a brand new, vibrant and exciting place to live, visit and shop in the heart of the city."
Construction works will begin next year and the hotel is expected to reach completion in 2020.
Designs conceived by Edinburgh-based Allan Murray Architects involve replacing the current 1970s shopping centre on the site with 750,000ft² of retail space, a luxury hotel, up to 250 new homes, 30 restaurants, and a multi-screen cinema.
Marketing Edinburgh CEO John Donnelly said: "Edinburgh is in desperate need of more large five-star hotels to attract not only leisure visitors but the leading global international associations for their conferences and events, which generate millions for the local economy."
Although developers are intent on using attractive, bronze-coloured, stainless steel materials, planners contend that the design would be ‘too shiny and reflective’. A final decision is yet to be made.
Upon completion, the hotel will have 210 beds, with three levels of restaurants and bars, and a public roof terrace.
Referring to the hotel as the ‘the most important single development,’ Edinburgh Institute director Graham Birse said: "This provides Edinburgh with an opportunity to significantly increase its place in the retail league tables in the UK.
"Retail is having a hard time, but Edinburgh in that context has always punched below its weight.
"Edinburgh lends itself very well to the signature retailers that have been talked about in relation to this development."