The firm of Jefferson Sheard Architects has altered plans for a £6.6m scheme to revamp the steps at Waverley station in Edinburgh after a row with heritage watchdogs.

The proposals were criticised by Historic Scotland and the neighbouring Balmoral Hotel, which claimed the original design would ruin views of, and from, the hotel.

These make the hotel the second most photographed structure in the city after the castle.

In the amended design the structure holding the lift shaft and escalators has been split in two, creating a separate block for each mechanism. The height of the structures has also been significantly reduced.

The Waverley steps were set to be replaced with escalators and lifts encased in a steel and glass canopy. But the design, which included a line of steel “trees” running along the centre of the site, was the subject of a formal objection by Historic Scotland because it would affect the setting of the hotel and “wider views within the World Heritage site”.

Jefferson Sheard said the revised proposal, which will be engineered by Arup, would transform the current “dark canyon” into a sheltered environment that would provide a landmark entrance for the station in Princes Street.

We are close to being content with the new design

Heritage Scotland spokesperson

A spokesperson at Heritage Scotland said: “We are close to being content with the new design. We are waiting to see the architect’s drawings before we are convinced enough to withdraw our objection.”

Network Rail, which runs Waverley station, said the scheme was vital to improving access to the fast-growing hub.

The steps were originally completed in 1867 and remain a favourite meeting place though they have wind tunnel effect. The revised design will be better for people laden with luggage, the architect said.