New homes get go-ahead in Portobello

Proposals for the 
Barratt development on the old Standard Life site in Baileyfield, Portobello.
Proposals for the Barratt development on the old Standard Life site in Baileyfield, Portobello.
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CONTROVERSIAL plans for 435 new homes on the edge of Portobello have been given the go-ahead despite concerns about noise, design, density and traffic problems.

The Barratt development on a former industrial site at Baileyfield Crescent won approval from councillors after they had heard from community groups, the housebuilders and local representatives.

Sean Watters, secretary of Portobello community council, said a survey among residents had found 55 per cent against the development, 30 per cent in favour and 15 per cent neutral.

The main concern voiced had been about traffic congestion. Other worries included the impact on local services - doctors, dentists and schools - and the density of the development. But he said there was also support for the site being used for housing.

The community council had decided not to take a position for or against the proposals.

Diana Cairns, chair of Brighton and Rosefield residents’ association, backed housing on the site but said the density of the proposed development was too high, some of the blocks were too high and there was not enough usable open space.

And she echoed concerns about traffic problems in view of the many developments around Portobello. She said: “The road network will not be able to cope with all the developments planned for the area.”

The development management sub-committee also heard from planning consultant Euan Pearson, on behalf of rail manufacturer VAE based across the road from the proposed development. He said the company could operate 24 hours a day and its activities were “very noisy”.

He said the noise of tipping steel into a skip had been measured at 130 decibels. “That level of noise can cause pain and damage to hearing.”

Mr Pearson said the proposed development would mean 77 flats directly opposite VAE and he claimed planning guidelines suggested permission should not be granted in view of the noise.

But noise expert Lesley McIntyre, working for Barratt, said road traffic was the dominant noise throughout the site.

She said she had been given a tour of VAE. “They were very specific about the hours they worked - 7.15am to 3.45pm Monday-Thursday and 7am-12 Friday and Saturday.” And she said there was no necessity for the tipping of steel offcuts to take place at night.

Proposing the application be granted, Tory councillor Joanna Mowat said she felt people’s views had been taken on board.

“What we have here is a brownfield site, one of the best located sites that has come forward - adjacent to a mature community and with good pedestrian links. I understand the concerns from the community and I do not dismiss these.

“We are not in a position to be turning down quality housing developments.”

Labour’s Maureen Child, who chaired the meeting, proposed continuation of the application but that was defeated by six votes to four.

And the committee went on to grant permission by seven votes to four. Conditions attached will require the developer to use native tree species where possible and provide areas on the pavement for locking motorbikes. A quarter of the homes will be affordable.