Campaigners against a proposed £50 million development in Leith say their concerns are as ‘strong as ever’ despite developers claiming to have altered plans that reflects input from the community.
Drum Property Group has tweaked its controversial plans following discussions with the council’s planning team and Edinburgh University, reducing the elevation on Leith Walk from six storeys to five and dropping 52 student rooms to keep the site in line with surrounding buildings.
The developer wants to build a mixed-use scheme incorporating 471 student flats, a 56-bedroom hotel, 53 affordable homes as well as a restaurant, café and retail units.
Meanwhile they say the sandstone retail units will be more defined with first floor feature windows as well as the dedicated cycling and pedestrian route connecting to Pilrig Park featuring 110 cycle spaces.
But Save Leith Walk says the alterations do not change the nature of the proposed demolition of existing buildings and redevelopment in a conservation zone.
The campaign group has received widespread backing with a 12,347-strong petition as well as high profile names such as The Proclaimers, Jeremy Corbyn and Irvine Welsh fearing the plans threaten Leith’s heritage.
They are calling on residents to register their objections on the city council’s online planning portal to the revised proposal before the December 21 deadline. The community has also created its own vision for the site which would include retaining the existing sandstone block at the foot of Leith Walk.
A Save Leith Walk spokesman said: “Developers often make last minute tweaks to their applications in the hope they will appease concerns. That tactic won’t work with the people of Leith and the wider Edinburgh community as they are far too savvy to fall for this kind of window dressing.
“Genuine, heartfelt concerns that the proposed demolition and development is wholly inappropriate for this site are as strong as ever. We urge people to visit the council’s planning portal and register again their objections to a development which threatens Leith Walk’s unique heritage, diversity and character.”
The revised planning application is set to be discussed at the city council’s planning committee early in the New Year. Drum feels the development will continue the rich tradition of diversity in Leith.
Graeme Bone, group managing director of Drum, said: “This has been a very high profile planning application and one that, if approved, will have a significant and positive impact on Leith Walk, and how it connects with the rest of the city.
“As such, we have worked closely with the council’s planning team following the initial submission and now have a design which reflects their input and feedback from the local community.
“I am confident that our revised proposals will bring an added dimension to Leith Walk, opening up what is currently an inhospitable industrial site by creating a vibrant, contemporary and accessible community for residents and visitors alike.”