Abbeyhill residents gear up for new fight against flats

Abbeyhill residents Paul Thompson and Thompson, Sam Kirke, Gill Harris, Jamie Connors and Hector Lazcano. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Abbeyhill residents Paul Thompson and Thompson, Sam Kirke, Gill Harris, Jamie Connors and Hector Lazcano. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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RESIDENTS are gearing up for a fresh fight after a developer returned to the table with previously rejected plans for 140 new flats in Abbeyhill.

The initial plans – which sparked dozens of objections by letter – were overturned last year amid concerns over the quality of the design.

Artist's impression of the proposed new apartments. Picture: Bellway Homes Ltd

Artist's impression of the proposed new apartments. Picture: Bellway Homes Ltd

Objectors said the three, six-storey blocks of flats on industrial land would overshadow homes, affect privacy and block out prized views of Arthur’s Seat.

Turning down the Bellway Homes’ scheme, the planning committee said the design was “detrimental” to a nearby B-listed late Georgian terrace. 
But now the developers have resubmitted proposals, which opponents have described as “almost identical” to the original.

Sam Kirke, who is now rallying residents, said there was a “loose collective” of around 20 people who were determined to oppose the plans a second time.

He said: “I am personally determined that the developer will not have a clear run at this and get it all their own way.

“The profile of the Crags and Arthur’s Seat will be lost at six storeys. And while loss of view is not a valid objection, I think this constitutes a loss of visual amenity.

“Also loss of privacy is also a valid objection which is definitely the case.”

But in its design statement, the developer insisted it had addressed concerns raised in its revised plans.

It said that “particular attention” has been paid to ensure that the design “will not be detrimental” to the setting of a listed building on Comely Green Place.

The statement described the building as “unashamedly contemporary” but also stressed that the materials used would now blend in with the plain classical terrace built in 1829.

But residents are unhappy with the “angular” design and say the developers have made no effort to reduce the height of buildings which obstructs popular views of Arthur’s Seat.

A letter of complaint has also been sent to the city council’s planning office claiming that more people who live in the area should have been made aware of the resubmitted plans.

Residents intend to contact previous objectors to drum up more opposition, enlist the help of their MP and may consider approaching the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

Mr Kirke said: “I think questions should be asked when this application is essentially the same as the previous one where at least 20 objections were received.

“For the current application only three objections have been received and yet it has not altered significantly at all.

“I would say this is indicative of the lack of advertising and notifications and I very much doubt the proper procedure has been followed.”

The council confirmed it had received the complaint and it is understood that the window for objections could be extended at the planning officers’ discretion.

No-one at Bellway Homes was available for comment.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com