Leithers launch fight to save historic Industry Lane

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ANGRY local residents have launched a campaign to “save” a century-old Leith lane from a controversial new private development.

Murapol SA, which describes itself as the “number one developer in Poland”, intends to bulldoze a strip of historic buildings on Industry Lane to build a three-story residential block.

Industry Lane off Ferry Road in Leith. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Industry Lane off Ferry Road in Leith. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The developer first applied to build on Industry Lane site, just off North Forth Street, in December.

The proposal, which received a formal objection from the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, was rejected.

However, the group’s revised application, which would see the erection of 19 “modern flats”, has sparked outrage among some Leithers.

Christopher Coates, of the Save Industry Lane campaign, said protestors were concerned that local residents and community councils hadn’t been engaged by developers during the process.

He said: “Unfortunately, the local community was not at the heart of this planning 
application — or even involved at all. There was no consultation prior to the application being submitted by the developer, despite the fact that this is the second planning application this developer has made for the site.

“We are concerned that the developer’s admitted lack of experience in engaging community councils and local residents in the planning process is a symptom of their general lack of regard for the communities amidst which they build,” he added.

The group is hosting a public meeting this evening at Leith Library in order to gauge public opinion ahead of the final deadline for comments and objections this Friday.

Mr Coates added that the developers “will not be attending” and he had “heard nothing more at time of writing”.

In total, 95 people have objected to the development, which campaigners argue would “damage the historic Madeira quarter” of the city and its “historic character”.

Labour’s Gordon Munro is the only local councillor to have formally objected to the development proposal thus far.

His objections include that the “density is inappropriate and detrimental to the Madeira district of Leith Conservation area” and that “there is no provision for parking”.

He has also objected on the basis that the design is “inappropriate in context of Madeira district” and that “the lack of provision of open space is deliberate to cram in as many homes as possible on a tightly circumscribed site”.

He said: “What is proposed here is about profit, not about place or people. Its inappropriate design is detrimental to the character of the Madeira district, which is a key part of Leith Conservation area.

“The previous application was rejected and this application deserves to be as well. Leith deserves better and can point just across the road to how it can better.”

Representatives from Save Industry Lane attended the Save Leith Walk campaign’s public meeting last Tuesday, which was held to discuss similar developments on Leith Walk.

Leithers have been up in arms over the proposals by Drum Property Group which include plans to build a 500-bed student accommodation block and 50 bed hotel.

Murascot Limited, the Scottish subsidiary of Murapol, has been approached for comment.