Land use dispute puts proposal for Leith flats at Ocean Terminal in jeopardy

City planners have recommended proposals for nearly 400 homes and 100 affordable units on a disused site in Leith be thrown out in a wrangle over the site's land use.

Tuesday, 7th November 2017, 8:37 am
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 4:10 pm
Houses outside Ocean Terminal are in jeopardy as planning chiefs says they do not meet the criteria for intended land use.
Houses outside Ocean Terminal are in jeopardy as planning chiefs says they do not meet the criteria for intended land use.

Plans to build the houses opposite Ocean Terminal shopping centre are in jeopardy after planning chiefs say the development, primed for vacant brownfield land, does not meet the “commercial-led” criteria earmarked for the area.

Revised plans for the Waterfront Plaza apartment blocks on Ocean Drive, to go in front of the council’s sub-
development committee tomorrow, have been a reduced in height and now include commercial units similar to the The Arches development at Waverley.

The updated plans have received support from the Leith business community and affordable housing specialists.

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Wendy Farmer, development manager at Port of Leith Housing Association has backed the plans that include a considerable number of on-site affordable homes.

She said: “We can safely say there is high demand for housing across Edinburgh, especially in the Leith area, for both social and mid-market rent housing.

“Last year’s revelation from Rettie’s about 3,400 people applying for just 96 mid-market rent homes at Western 
Harbour didn’t come as a surprise. It’s in line with what we’re seeing and hearing on a regular basis owing to the shortfall in affordable homes.

“We’re currently liaising with CALA on the detailed layout designs and we 
anticipate that the Waterfront Plaza development properties will be snapped up quickly.”

But the planners report, which recommended refusal on the basis the scheme is contrary to the Local 
Development Plan, states that without the inclusion of a major office development as part of the mixed use proposal, the plans should not be supported.

Craig Lynes, land director at CALA Homes (East), said: “We are hopeful that the committee will recognise the level of support to deliver much-needed housing on the site to regenerate this neglected area of Leith, and overturn the officials’ recommendation.

“This is a major development that will have a significant positive impact – and if approved will become a real asset to the waterfront.

“Not only will Waterfront Plaza provide a welcome boost to housing supply across a wide segment of the local market, but by incorporating traditional colony-style homes, townhouses and flats with large public spaces, it will create a welcoming and entirely appropriate neighbourhood.”

Located on disused land opposite Ocean Terminal, CALA Homes (East) amended its original plans from 425 homes down to 388 including 97 affordable units, made up of three townhouses and 94 flats.

The development will also include around 1500 sq m of small “workspace” units, similar to The Arches development on Market Street, offering potential uses including shops, cafes, galleries, creative space and offices aimed at start-up companies.

Proposals include an urban square, public green space and café building fronting Victoria Dock at Waterfront Plaza which developers claim will draw more visitors to the area and keep them there for longer.