Appeal as flats plan is rejected

Demand for student accommodation in the Capital is high. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Demand for student accommodation in the Capital is high. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A STUDENT housing builder is to launch an appeal after plans for a 579-bed development were rejected.

The £30 million proposals for the site of the current Homebase DIY store in St Leonard’s Street were knocked back, with planning bosses ­citing fears it would push Southside’s student population above 61 per cent.

At the same time, dozens of students queued up to view other properties in the area.

The city’s own guidelines state that neighbourhoods should not have more than 
30 per cent of properties occupied by students.

Student housing provider Unite has argued that the managed development would take the pressure off private rented accommodation, and had also included a doctor’s surgery within the plans.

The site is just metres from Lutton Court, where plans for a 240-bed student complex were refused by the city last March but were overturned on appeal by a Scottish Government reporter six months later.

Campaigners had welcomed the decision to refuse the new plans. Hilary McDowell, of campaign group Living Southside, said: “With 124 objections, it was obviously the right thing to do.

“We need to be talking about what we need in the area. We need housing for the elderly and we need mixed-use housing. Students can live a little further out too, just as other people do.”

Locals are prepared to fight an appeal, said Edinburgh East MP Sheila Gilmore.

She added: “It’s important that the council has chosen to uphold its own policy.”

Local people were also left disappointed by the approval at the same meeting of Edinburgh University’s plans to convert offices in Buccleuch Place and Meadow Lane into 46-bed student accommodation.

Jez Kempton, one of the founders of the Save Buccleuch Place and Meadow Lane group, said the area was bearing the burden of most of the city’s students. He said: “I like students but I object to the ridiculous numbers in the area.”

Jagdeep Bhogal from Unite confirmed it would appeal, adding: “We look forward to continuing our discussions with the council.”

Demand is rising for student properties with students braving the cold to queue in the hopes of snapping up properties in Newington, Bruntsfield and Marchmont.

Student housing specialists Cullen Property, in Rutland Square, said this was one of their busiest periods as they show their 100 student properties from February 11-13.

Operations director Steve Coyle said: “Every year we always have queues up the street. We’ve seen everything from students pre-booking taxis to ensure they make it to our office first to semi-professional cyclists waiting outside the property.”