Bid to halt Meadow Lane student accommodation plan

The Southside spot being considered as a new hive of student living. Picture: Scott Louden

The Southside spot being considered as a new hive of student living. Picture: Scott Louden

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NEIGHBOURS have vowed to fight plans to build new student accommodation beside one of Edinburgh University’s main campuses.

Proposals to develop new housing on the north side of Meadow Lane are in their infancy, but Southside residents are already gearing up for a battle.

A planning application for the project – which also includes plans to convert offices and teaching space on Buccleuch Place back into traditional tenement housing – is expected to be submitted in September.

The latest proposals come against long-running concerns that the Southside/Newington area is over-saturated with students.

Labour MP Sheila Gilmore has previously called on planners and the university to address local concerns.

Jez Kempston, who has lived on Buccleuch Street for 30 years, has joined forces with friends and neighbours to set up the Save Buccleuch Street and Meadow Lane Edinburgh Facebook campaign page.

Mr Kempston has written to university vice-principal Mary Bownes to ask for a better spread of student accommodation across the city.

He said: “I like students but there’s maybe too many here. I fully agree that there should be a social mix of housing.

“But there needs to be people who put roots down too. Most students are very temporary residents.”

In its proposal of application notice to the council, JM Architects explains how “courtyards and landscaped gardens will enhance the long-term visual amenity and recreational value of the area”.

But Lisa Sibbald, chairwoman of the Southside Association residents’ group, said neighbours were more concerned at the prospect of a fresh influx of students into the community.

She said: “The greatly increased number of students in the area is changing the character of the Southside, as we now have such a large transient population. This is all happening at a time when there is a need for more social housing in the area, and more local opportunities for employment.”

An Edinburgh University spokeswoman said: “We are in the pre-application planning process at present and as part of this we have held public consultation events with local residents about the development.

“We have taken account of the concerns and comments raised during the process and incorporated amendments to the design proposals prior to our planning application being formally submitted to the city council.”