Edinburgh student housing: Council approves plans for 267 student beds at former bus depot site in Old Town

Plans for the Sibbald Walk site were granted planning permission today by six votes to four
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Plans to build a 267-bed purpose-built student accommodation building and three townhouses in Edinburgh’s city centre has been approved today by councillors.

The application by Vita Group, who manage student accommodation at Fountainbridge and Iona Street, was granted after councillors voted six votes to four in favour of the motion at a development management sub-committee meeting on January 24. The Vita Student building will form part of the £240m New Waverley regeneration project.

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The Vita Student’s New Waverley site on Sibbald Walk will comprise of 207 “high-quality studio apartments” and 60 cluster rooms and include a state-of-the-gym along with social and study spaces. The site will also accommodate an on-site operations team to deliver events, housekeeping and security. Planning permission was also granted to build three affordable townhouses on the mixed-use site.

Vita Student’s New Waverley site on Sibbald Walk will comprise of 207 “high-quality studio apartments” and 60 cluster rooms and include a state-of-the-gym along with social and study spacesVita Student’s New Waverley site on Sibbald Walk will comprise of 207 “high-quality studio apartments” and 60 cluster rooms and include a state-of-the-gym along with social and study spaces
Vita Student’s New Waverley site on Sibbald Walk will comprise of 207 “high-quality studio apartments” and 60 cluster rooms and include a state-of-the-gym along with social and study spaces

Max Bielby, chief operating officer for Vita Group said: “Edinburgh’s undersupply of student housing causes pressures across Edinburgh’s housing market, so this planning consent should be seen as win for the city as well as the Vita Student brand as we continue to grow our presence within the city, delivering the very best student living experience.”

He added: “Now we can move onto the next phase of delivering this fantastic scheme in the New Waverley masterplan and realise the site’s potential, bringing further investment into the city and along with it adding to the city’s affordable homes.”

Colin Smith, director and head of planning Scotland at Turley, who acted as planning and heritage consultants for Vita Group, said: "It is great news for the city, and the city centre in particular, that this development has been approved. It will complete the overall New Waverley development masterplan, provide high-quality student accommodation close to the university and, by maximising the use of brownfield land, is fully aligned with the key drivers of NPF4 with respect to sustainability and climate change."

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The planning report details that 15 of the student rooms will be DDA compliant and rooms will vary in size from 16 m² to 26 m². The proposed three-bedroom townhouses will be between 111 m² to 122 m² with balcony spaces of around 7 m².

The report also indicated that the townhouses are “proposed to be affordable housing units,” however, it was noted at the council meeting that there is no statutory requirement for the applicant to deliver affordable housing as 37 per cent of housing units within the greater Caltongate Masterplan are already affordable - 12 per cent higher than the minimum number of affordable units set out in the 2006 document.

The report said: “The proportion of residential units delivered as affordable exceed the 25 per cent required in previous legal agreements across the Caltongate site” adding “there is no reasonable planning means to ensure this further provision will be secured. This would therefore be a matter for the applicant to pursue outwith this planning application.”

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