Flats plan for old college ‘a great relief to green belt’

The buildings have been unused for seven years. Picture: Lesley Martin

The buildings have been unused for seven years. Picture: Lesley Martin

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DEVELOPERS want to knock down the old Telford College building and turn it into four-storey blocks of flats.

Miller Homes is expected to submit plans to the city council at the end of next month to demolish the college building on Pilton Avenue and replace it with about 138 homes.

Apartment blocks would be built around a central area of open space at the Pilton site, with an access route provided to Crewe Road North.

The Art Deco college ­building, which was first ­constructed in 1949, was ­heritage listed 15 years ago and the surrounding former college grounds – which border ­Ainslie Park Leisure Centre – are ­already being turned into residential ­developments.

Forth ward councillor Allan Jackson welcomed the move to generate new housing from a building that had been shut for seven years. He said: “Any sites that aren’t necessary now, we’re desperate for housing in Edinburgh at all levels, including social housing, so they should be used. The more land that we can get over into housing – brownfield land as we call it – the ­better. It also saves building on the green belt.”

The former college was named after Thomas Telford, the great Scottish civil ­engineer dubbed the “Colossus of Roads” for his prolific design of ­highways and bridges. It was replaced by a new purpose-built main campus at West Granton, which opened in 2006.

As many as 29,000 homes could be built if all the ­previously developed derelict sites across the Capital were used.

The city council has proposed changing existing planning guidelines at nearby locations such as the Leith and Granton waterfronts in efforts to stimulate housing development.

Thousands of new homes are also in the pipeline under plans to open up a large chunk of green belt land for ­development.

Up to 2000 new homes could be built at Maybury and Cammo, with more planned for South Gyle, Broomhills, Burdiehouse, Gilmerton Dykes Road, Gilmerton Station Road and The Drum.

The new zones are part of the council’s five-year draft Local Development Plan (LDP) set to guide the city’s expansion from 2015-20. Cllr Jackson said that progress made in developing areas like the Granton ­waterfront for residential living remained “very slow”.

He said: “The market has a lot to do with it.

“There’s a lot of sites there that should be zoned for housing. It’s just who wants to take these sites up?

“Inevitably, they want to have sites that they see as being more useful, but I think eventually it’ll come.”

A spokeswoman for Miller Homes said: “Our proposals for the site, which will include a detailed supporting ­commercial justification, have been ­produced in accordance with relevant Historic Scotland and council guidance.”

dale.miller@edinburghnews.com