Southside residents fear more student flats on way

Lisa Sibbald is upset at the prospect of more student flats at Potterrow. Picture: Greg Macvean
Lisa Sibbald is upset at the prospect of more student flats at Potterrow. Picture: Greg Macvean
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MORE student accommodation is set to be built in Southside – sparking fresh fears the area is being turned into “a ghetto”.

Neighbours plan to hold crisis talks after a council-owned building in Potterrow was marketed as “suitable for student accommodation”.

Planning chiefs have also given the green light for 11 student flats in Lothian Street.

That has come as a double blow for campaigners already reeling at blueprints on the table for several other student accommodation blocks in the area, which would increase the local population by more than 1000.

Earlier this month the News reported that residents believe the ongoing influx is “eroding the sense of community” and changing the shape of the area beyond recognition.

Lisa Sibbald, of the Southside Association, said: “I’m not surprised. It seems to have been happening more and more. Everything that comes up becomes student 
accommodation. It is all very worrying. We have nothing against students, but it is taking away the possibility of any other sort of housing.

“Dedicated housing for students keeps them away from everyone else. Quite a few people have said it is becoming a ‘student ghetto’ because they are segregated.”

A council spokeswoman said that the Potterrow site would be “suitable for a variety of uses”, including student accommodation, and stressed that all applications would need to go through the “approvals processes”.

But Ms Sibbald said it was “more than likely” that it would become student accommodation.

She added: “In the 1970s the university wanted to take over the entire Southside and there was a huge uproar. Now it appears they are doing it again.”

Residents have also claimed the character of surrounding pubs, cafes and shops has been changed because they now tend to cater specifically for students.

They will hold a public meeting this weekend to discuss how to tackle their concerns.

Amongst the ongoing plans to increase student 
accommodation in Southside, developer Unite is poised to submit a bid to build a 579-bed complex in St Leonard’s Street by demolishing the current Homebase DIY store.

Edinburgh University has outlined plans to create more housing in Meadow Lane and Buccleuch Place, yards from its George Square campus.

Paramount Printers and Melford Developments have also tabled proposals to build around 187 student flats in a Causewayside printing ­office

Kirsty Haigh, of the National Union of Students Scotland, insisted students were an asset to the community.

She said: “They have a significant positive impact on local job creation, and provide a huge economic boost where they live, work and study.

“They give back to their community through their volunteer work with local charities, and are at the forefront of advocating for affordable housing and cheaper public transport for all.”