Protesters against restaurant demolition win hearing

Ross McEwan and Jan Anderson join other campaigners opposing the demolition plan at Canonmills Bridge. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Ross McEwan and Jan Anderson join other campaigners opposing the demolition plan at Canonmills Bridge. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop a popular restaurant being bulldozed to make way for a “bland” block of flats have won the right to put their case direct to the committee which will decide the issue.

Objectors say the proposed demolition of the low-rise building which houses Earthy food shop and restaurant at Canonmills would remove what has become a focal point for the community. They have collected more than 1600 signatures on a paper petition and nearly 4000 online.

Now councillors have agreed to hold a hearing next month at which objectors can set out their arguments.

Ross McEwan, of the Save 1-6 Canonmills Bridge campaign, said: “This is the first step in the right direction. That single-storey building is important. It opens the skyline up. Putting a four-storey building in its place is not going to enhance the area.”

Planning consent has been granted for six flats, three townhouses and two restaurants on the site, but the developers still need to get permission to demolish the existing building because it is in a conservation area.

Mr McEwan has described the planned development as oversized and out of character with the area and labelled the design “safe, bland and lazy”.

He said the picture of the site shown to the committee yesterday had been taken when the shops were vacant. “The photograph was pre-Earthy and it made it look pretty run down.”

He said the restaurant had boosted the area. “People come for their shopping and it generates economic benefits.”

Nick Gardner, Labour councillor for Leith Walk ward, which includes the Earthy site, said he was delighted there was to be a hearing.

He said: “A bridge with shops on it is a design feature that goes back centuries across the world. We’re very lucky to have this old-fashioned bridge with shops.”

He said the area had changed dramatically over the past few years. “As one resident said to me, Canonmills is going from a crossroads which is a bit unloved to having much more of a personality and being at the heart of the local community – and that was someone who has lived there for 37 years.”

Fellow Labour Leith Walk councillor Angela Blacklock proposed the hearing. “There have been thousands of signatures from local residents,” she said.

Planning convener Ian Perry opposed the move. He said: “I think this is straightforward enough for us to deal with it today. We have had a site visit.”

But no other member of the committee supported his motion to refuse a hearing and a date was set for August 26.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com