Students facing car ban at new accommodation block

The warehouse buildings in Bothwell Street. Picture: Julie Bull
The warehouse buildings in Bothwell Street. Picture: Julie Bull
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STUDENTS living in a new housing complex planned for Leith would be banned from having cars under controversial rules.

DPI Ltd wants to demolish three warehouse buildings in Bothwell Street, off Easter Road, and replace them with a 240-bed student accommodation block.

But the tenants would be forbidden from parking cars anywhere nearby following concerns expressed by other residents.

It is understood the students would have to sign an agreement as part of the lease to say they do not have a car and that this would be enforced by 24-hour on-site security.

Student leaders said the move would prove divisive as the new residents attempted to settle into the community.

But developers have insisted that the stipulations were “not unique”.

Consultation work undertaken on behalf of the developers found that residents were concerned that the development could cause parking problems, with the already limited number of on-street spaces facing further pressure.

Kirsty Haigh, NUS Scotland vice-president, said it seemed “bizarre” and “wholly unfair” to attach these types of restrictions to contracts.

She said: “Students are a part of the university or college community, but also an important part of their wider 
community. We would hope that students would be welcomed into local communities and are able to enjoy the same rights, and the responsibilities these bring, as their fellow residents.”

Stewart Graham, of architects McLaren Murdoch & Murdoch, said: “The proposed student accommodation at Bothwell Street aims to provide on-site state-of-the-art facilities for local students that will provide the necessary environment to focus their studies.

“The completed building is set to be fully managed by the accommodation provider, including full maintenance of public spaces, private refuse removal and a no-car ownership policy for student 
residents.”

Access to the flats would be off Bothwell Street and the site would have 24-hour CCTV. As part of the plans, the overgrown park to the north of the site would be transformed into a community space for students and members of the public. The work would include seating, shrubs and tree planting and would be maintained by the student accommodation provider.

There will also be a student garden area to the south to provide a “buffer” between the student flats and the houses nearby.

This latest plan supersedes an earlier proposal for 71 residential flats on the site, which planners were reportedly “minded to grant”.

But Keith Hales, vice-chairman of the Leith Business Association, said he understood that there was a general feeling among community councillors that there was too much student accommodation in the area.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com