Officials under fire for backing revised student flats scheme

An artist's impression of part of the development, which planners back
An artist's impression of part of the development, which planners back
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RESIDENTS have raised fears their community is under threat after planning chiefs recommended approving the construction of hundreds of student flats in west Edinburgh.

The proposal for a two-block residence containing 220 bedrooms and three buildings housing 34 apartments at a site off Slateford Road has been recommended for approval at a meeting of the city planning committee tomorrow.

The recommendation came after changes were made by developer AMA (New Town) Ltd which convinced planners the proposal would make a positive contribution to regeneration and housing provision in the area.

However, community councillors and residents in the Flower Colonies said the changes were “superficial” and failed to address concerns over the scale of the development.

Marianna Clyde, chair of Merchiston Community Council, said: “It could really harm this community. It’s going to make people who live in the area want to move away.

“The current application has not really made any changes to the original plan. The block is still going to be five storeys high and the density is the same – 220 rooms.

“The development site is tiny and it’s wedged right into the heart of the community. The buildings they’re proposing will completely overshadow the existing homes.”

Jenny Goldsmith, member of the Flower Colonies Area Residents’ Association, said: “Our immediate reaction is just disappointment. This is the second application by the developer and we have tried to work constructively with them but they are not interested in anything other than a large student block of flats.

“All they have done is slightly move the proposal for an enormous, five-storey block of flats so that it is does not affect the Flower Colonies as much but, if anything, there will be even more of an impact on people living on Slateford Road.”

The criticisms were rejected by the developer and business owners in Slateford Road, who said the project could help bring in custom.

Ali Afshar, director of AMA (New Town) Ltd, said: “We carefully considered the recommendations made when the last development was rejected. We have also taken into full consideration all views on what should be built on the site.

“The new proposal deals with all of the issues raised.”

The owner of one Slateford Road business, who did not want to be named, said: “From a business point of view, it will help greatly.

“I can see why a lot of my clients wouldn’t want this to go ahead but it will also bring more business to the area.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The recommendation to approve this development has been made after careful consideration and takes into account feedback from local residents.

“We have worked closely with the developer and are now satisfied that earlier concerns have been resolved. We are confident that the project will be of benefit to the local area.”