Campaigners set up crowdfunder to help against Leith Walk plans

Save Leith Walk meeting.
Save Leith Walk meeting.
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Residents have started an online fundraising page to help their campaign against a controversial multi-million pound development on Leith Walk.

Leithers have been up in arms after initial plans were revealed by Drum Property Group to build a mixed -use development on an area of land at Stead’s Place.

The firm is intending to create a 500-bed student accommodation block, a 50-bed hotel, 50-60 affordable homes and space for the benefit of local retailers and the community.

The plans have been met by a public outcry from residents who have highlighted a number of concerns with the development including the area’s lack of affordable housing, the strain it would have on public services and the design of the new building.

Save Leith Walk was created so residents can unite to prevent the demolition of the 1930s sandstone building and influence what is built on the site. A Crowdfunder page has now raised more than £1,500 which will help with the running costs of the campaign.

Linda Somerville, of Save Leith Walk, said: “The Crowdfunder will be used for publicity materials for the campaign - leaflets, posters, etc, and to pay for venue costs to hold meetings. We are now planning for our own public meeting.”

The land, which includes Leith Depot, was snapped up by Drum last year and has been earmarked for development since 2008 by the city council.

A meeting was called at Out of the Blue by Drum Property Group to discuss their plans in front of more than 200 passionate residents. Edinburgh Northern and Leith SNP MSP Ben Macpherson chaired the meeting with representations made by both Drum Property Group and Save Leith Walk.

Linda added: “We’re delighted with the turnout. The original plan for the meeting from Drum was to have questions submitted in advance, so we were pleased to influence this before the meeting to ensure it was inclusive and had an open floor for Q&A.

“The points raised confirmed what we have been hearing on the street from locals - lack of affordable housing, concern over the design of the new buildilng, a strong demand from the community to keep the current building and stop the demolition and a pride in Leith and its diversity.”

Fife Hyland, Drum’s communications director, said: “We believe the site represents a major opportunity to open up an important part of Leith Walk. The student lets will be postgraduates and run by the University of Edinburgh.

“This will be an innovative approach that allows the public to access the facilities and students to integrate with the community which in itself has been driven by the students wanting to be part of their local neighbourhood.”

Mr Macpherson said: “I will keep working to help make sure that the community’s voice is heard. I’m glad that the developer was there to listen and was able to hear first-hand from concerned Leithers, and I hope that they will take on board the community’s feedback as they consider their proposals and designs.

“Leithers treasure the current sandstone block and it is my strong view that this frontage should be preserved.”

To donate go to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-leith-walk