Controversial Corstorphine 'alien invasion' development called in by Scottish government

Opponents of controversial plans to demolish a Victorian villa and replace it with twenty flats have been handed a lifeline, after the previously approved proposals were called in by the Scottish government.

By Joseph Anderson, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 30th November 2020, 4:56 pm
The house on Corstorphine Road at the centre of a planning row as residents fight against controversial 'alien invasion' plans for 20 flats to be built on the site
The house on Corstorphine Road at the centre of a planning row as residents fight against controversial 'alien invasion' plans for 20 flats to be built on the site

Plans to develop 37 Corstorphine Road, situated near the Water of Leith and a short walking distance of Roseburn Park, were initially rejected by Edinburgh City Council in July last year after being labelled an ‘alien invasion’.

The developers, Square and Crescent, subsequently appealed the decision to the Scottish government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) in August 2019, who upheld the original refusal by the council.

However, similar plans were resubmitted in March of this year, and in August the council’s development management committee approved the proposals.

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Now, the DPEA has called in the application, meaning Scottish ministers will once again have the final say on the proposals, due to the continued objection of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

SEPA’s objection relates primarily to the potential for the site to be flooded if the Water of Leith bursts its banks.

It reads: “It is proposed to locate the building close to the floodwall. We would express extreme caution about building so close to the flood defence.

“The application is for the demolition of a single house and to erect a building to accommodate several residential apartments.

“In flood risk terms this will mean that the site increases in vulnerability because of the increase in numbers of properties and families that will be located on the floodplain.”

The plans have attracted 125 objections, and 50 letters of support.

Mark Findlay, whose property neighbours the development site, said: “The SEPA objection is a good read, it’s a very big objection.

“The flooding really is the least of our concerns though, all of our other concerns which we felt were more relevant have been dismissed by the council.

“After being rejected Scottish Ministers once before, the developer has brought back basically the same scheme, because the government reporter said elements of the original plans were okay.

“Because the reporter deemed elements of the original plan to be okay, the council doesn’t have the bottle to object to the plans a second time.

“SEPA disagrees with Edinburgh City Council’s policy of allowing building on the floodplains and allowing car parks and gardens to be flooded.

“Our whole stretch of Corstorphine Road is Victorian and Georgian semi-detached and detached housing.

“They’re going to knock down that one house and replace it with one enormous building.

“It will tower above our property and the windows will look into our property.”

Joseph Anderson, Local Democracy Reporting Service

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