EDINBURGH will not lose its coveted World Heritage Status immediately should the city’s council give approval to the plan to develop a luxury hotel around the former Royal High School building on Calton Hill.

Sources close to the current evaluation process of the management of the Old and New Town World Heritage Site say that even if the controversial plan is approved, it will be “some time” before Edinburgh is considered for removal from the list of more than 1000 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The National has learned, however, that the International Committee on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) which advises UNESCO on World Heritage sites will discuss the ongoing threat to the Old and New Towns as well as other historic cities at a conference in London next week.

The news comes as the number of objections to the Royal High hotel plan soared over the 2000 mark, just as Icomos’s UK committee was visiting Edinburgh.

Icomos-UK, the UK national committee of Icomos, will mark its 50th anniversary with a conference in London on Thursday October 22. Delegates will discuss threats to Britain’s built heritage.

Icomos-UK said yesterday: “In its 50th anniversary year, and at a time when our global heritage is ever more under threat of destruction, Icomos-UK is calling for a new approach to the way we all sustain, promote and benefit from cultural heritage through the launch of its landmark Cultural Heritage Manifesto.

“The manifesto considers that cultural heritage should be embedded in all aspects of sustainable development, and a major part of resilience in society.

“It is calling on government, universities, and the built environment professions to support and campaign for strategies, plans and development initiatives to be ‘cultural heritage proofed’. It also proposes that cultural heritage should be at the centre of decision-making about our society, communities and the environment.” Meanwhile the latest objection to the Royal High hotel plan comes from Edinburgh Council’s own archaeological service.

It points out that the to-be-demolished gate lodge – built after the erection of the Royal High School in the 1820s – is itself a famous emblem of the pro-devolution movement and a home to a long-term protest.

The report states: “The proposed scheme proposes the demolition of four listed buildings namely the gate lodge, gymnasium, classroom block and luncheon block.

“Such actions must be considered as clearly having significant adverse impacts upon these listed structures as it would lead to their complete loss

“In terms of the gate lodge its loss may have a greater importance due to its key setting at the entrance to the school.

“Culturally also this building and the western entrance provided a key backdrop to the pro-Scottish Parliament movement in the 1990s”.

In another controversy, Edinburgh World Heritage, a charity funded by the City of Edinburgh Council and Historic Scotland, has claimed the hotel plan by Duddingston House Properties was “twice as large” as first proposed. A member of the development team said: “In terms of the floor area, the original submission for the competition was for 13,280 sq m while the current planning application for the area visible is 16,637 sq m which is an overall increase of 25 per cent.”