180 homes plan for old Royal Mail site in Leith

The site of the former Royal Mail sorting office on Brunswick Road. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
The site of the former Royal Mail sorting office on Brunswick Road. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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Fresh plans are being drawn up to deliver 180 new homes on the site of a former Royal Mail sorting office in Leith.

Housebuilder Cala is set to begin consultations next week over its blueprint for the Brunswick Road site, which was at the centre of a bitter planning row last year and has lain empty since the sorting office was demolished in 2010.

Councillors rejected a previous proposal from rival firm Barratt, branding the tightly packed six-storey blocks of flats “Soviet”, “Weetabix architecture” and resembling an “army camp”.

They also raised fears that the tall buildings would blot out the sun from communal gardens, leaving them in perpetual shadow.

An acrimonious dispute with Barratt followed, with the firm insisting tweets written by a conservation campaigner during a crunch planning meeting had left it “at an unfair disadvantage”.

The new set of plans will include 60 fewer homes, with Cala promising that the development will reflect its “upmarket” reputation. Detailed plans are expected later in the year, but will include a range of designs from one-bedroom flats to three-bedroom family homes and penthouses.

Gavin Pope, land director with Cala Homes (East), said: “The opportunity to redevelop such an important and well-recognised site is obviously a very exciting prospect.

“However, before anything happens it is essential that we carry out detailed consultation with local residents and businesses to get the fullest possible picture of what they want to see at this location.

“What we know from our long history is that the key to successful development is taking on board local opinion to help shape any plans, then making sure the community is kept fully informed at every stage.”

Residents will have a chance to scrutinise Cala’s proposals at two public exhibitions. The first is being held at McDonald Road Library on Tuesday from 4.30pm to 7.30pm, with the second event taking place on August 23 from 11am to 2pm.

“The initial design is for approximately 180 units, made up of a wide range of properties from one-bedroom apartments through to three-bedroom family units and penthouses,” added Mr Pope.

“However, details and numbers can only be finalised once we’ve had a chance to engage fully with local people.”

Leith Walk councillor and planning committee member Angela Blacklock, who voted against the Barratt plans, said she would study the new blueprint with “an open mind”.

She said: “I moved against the last plans as a member of the planning committee because I just felt they were too detrimental to local residents. They were far too close.

“I will be looking at the plans to the see if they are of a good design and whether they will fit in with the local area. I’m very much in favour of regeneration in the Leith Walk area, so I hope the committee will be pleased with the plans, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Leith Business Association vice-chairman and community council member Alex Wilson said the lack of commercial space would work in Cala’s favour.

He said: “I welcome the development. It’s just a question of the density, the scale and the style of it – but we do not want another supermarket in Leith.”

Rooftop restaurant on the menu

THE latest addition to Edinburgh’s foodie scene will serve up panoramic views of the city and the Forth, after it was revealed that the redevelopment of the former Scottish Provident building will include a rooftop restaurant.

Developers working on the £75 million project have had an amendment to their planning application approved by councillors, allowing them to create the next stop for fine-dining pilgrims to the city centre.

Chef Mark Greenaway, who runs two of Edinburgh’s most acclaimed restaurants, said the site could attract another top name from the culinary world.

“I think it would be a great location for a restaurant, because obviously you’ve got the views,” he said. “Obviously one of the pitfalls of a rooftop restaurant is how do you tell the man on the street that it’s actually up there, but as long as you’ve got the views of that castle, it would be a great location.

“The more better restaurants, the better not only for Edinburgh but for Scotland as a whole. Edinburgh is a real dining destination now, with all the amazing restaurants here.”