MERCURY Prize-winning Edinburgh band Young Fathers have put their weight behind a local campaign to “save” Leith Walk from private developers.
The internationally renowned trio, who won the award in 2014, described the proposition to build luxury flats in the area as a “kick in the teeth”.
Graham ‘G’ Hastings, producer and vocalist in the band, indicated the band’s support during a performance at Leith’s Hidden Door arts festival two weeks ago by proclaiming “Save Leith Walk” in front of a cheering crowd.
He told the Evening News that the band’s message to developers was “if you’re going to build anything, make it social housing.”
He said: “We have made all our albums in Leith so we have watched the area change over the years. We all know Edinburgh is a money city, and property prices are going through the roof – especially in Leith.
“But we need some things to not be about profit and value. Edinburgh Council should be aware that all the stuff that makes an area desirable – the mix, the artistic community, the grit, the energy, they all disappear when gentrification happens.
“This campaign is a flag in the ground to hold on dear to the diversity of the area, and to stop the inevitable domino effect which will eventually push out members of the community because they can’t afford to live there anymore.”
The Save Leith Walk campaign was formed in March to oppose a multi-million pound development by the Drum Property Group and has received backing from across the board including high profile local Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh.
The plans include constructing 500 student flats, a hotel and dozens of houses, along with the demolition of the sandstone building at Steads Place, where the music venue Leith Depot currently operates.
The development is still at the planning stage with the submission of the full planning application expected soon.
Linda Somerville of the Save Leith Walk campaign said: “Save Leith walk campaign are delighted to have such vocal support from Young Fathers.
“Like many locals they have been compelled to speak out against the proposed development in Leith Walk that would see the loss of vibrant local businesses and a much loved building.
“Just as significant is the lack of community input to plans for the area. Having Young Fathers and other musicians and artists on board helps to spread the word and hopefully makes enough noise to be heard.”
Young Fathers, comprised of Hastings from Drylaw, Liberia-born Alloysious Massaquoi and Kayus Bankole, Scots-born and of Nigerian ancestry, have previously been critical of the council due to “restrictive policies”.
The group, outspoken about their political views, suffered a racist backlash last year after complaining that British art galleries are full of images of privileged white people.
This week, they were dropped from the line-up of a German festival this week due to their support of a campaign advocating cultural boycott of Israel.