RESIDENTS fear they are about to be “swamped” by students after plans were lodged for blocks of university flats only a stone’s throw apart.
Developers want to erect around 187 student residences in a Causewayside printing office and say their project will be “the most advanced and eco-friendly in Scotland”.
Amid burgeoning growth in Edinburgh’s student population, the new application from Paramount Printers and Melford Developments, submitted earlier this month, is being considered by planning chiefs.
But with plans in progress for a student residential campus only half a mile away on the north side of Meadow Lane, residents are concerned the Southside is set to be overwhelmed.
The News reported on Monday that residents planned to fight the Meadow Lane plans.
Sue Tritton, secretary of Grange-Prestonfield Community Council, said: “It could be [the thin end of a wedge] – the start of an expansion of more students into the area – and that’s clearly got to be looked at.
“It’s not the problem of students per se, but they tend not to contribute to the community or get involved in it. We would always want to encourage long-term residents, people who want to stay here. It’s more the actual number of students in the area – there are issues that students can cause problems or are noisy at night.”
The concerns have been echoed by political leaders, who said the south of the city was in danger of becoming over-burdened with student flats which are undermining provision of homes for vulnerable groups such as the elderly.
Sarah Boyack, Labour list MSP for the Lothians and former representative for Edinburgh Central, said: “There seems to be a proliferation of proposals for student accommodation and while we do need it, I am really concerned that we are not getting a balance of accommodation coming forward in the Southside. There’s a massive need for affordable social housing in the area, housing for single people and older people in particular, and a general lack of housing choices.”
Sheila Gilmore, Edinburgh East MP, added: “Community and elected representatives are going to be getting together soon to discuss how they want to respond to the overall situation. I will be looking closely at this specific application.”
Developer bosses insist their project will be among the most innovative of its kind.
Stuart Peters, of Melford Developments, said: “It will have the highest BREEAM [Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology] outstanding award – that’s what we are going for.
“The university sector is growing and accommodation is required for students. This is alleviating the HMOs and the private rented sector, and putting all the students in a purpose-designed building.”
He added: “The fact is that the students are there. What they are actually doing is soaking up the private houses. What we are doing is putting them in one area which is professionally managed and will alleviate the pressure of private rents going up in the city at the moment.”