Readers' letters: Reporter favours student housing developers

I read with dismay the story on student flats in Gorgie (“Calls for Tynecastle High School plans to be scrapped amid claims area 'flooded' with student housing", News, September 19).

Plans for accommodation for 468 students have been lodged for the former Tynecastle High School
Plans for accommodation for 468 students have been lodged for the former Tynecastle High School

My recent experience suggests that if objectors win at the Council Planning Committee, the developer will appeal and the Scottish Government Reporter will grant permission.That happened in Southside in August when the Reporter allowed a four-storey block of 64 flats in East Newington Place, a narrow cul-de-sac behind tenements, against the unanimous opposition of 96 local objectors, the Southside Community Council and the Planning Committee.The Reporter's reasoning was laughably shallow. Southside, like Gorgie, already houses a great number of students and this decision will lead to the 15 ordinary residents of the street sharing it with 153 students in two separate halls (a student proportion over 90 per cent). The Reporter blunted this population spike to an acceptable level by simply averaging it into a notional 'neighbourhood' a mile across. Sophistry.Second, the Reporter claimed, contrary to all the locals, that the flats would improve the setting of existing houses, some of which are Listed. This despite overtopping them, and being much closer to them than is common for large buildings in the area.

Loss of amenity to resi-dents from the flats cutting connection to local green space - tenement gardens - and much of the winter sunlight was also ignored.The Reporter's decision is final. Behind it possibly lay the fact that there is indeed a student accommodation crisis in Edinburgh. But is this the fault of the city's residents or of the University for its determination to keep growing student numbers (four per cent year on year for the last five) without adequate infrastructure?

Lack of scrutiny and planning at high level is forcing bad local planning.

John Lightfoot, Edinburgh.

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Was Sweden right over lockdowns?

Sweden's policy of not having Covid lockdowns in 2020/21 was controversial, but a recent scientific paper lead-authored by Casey Mulligan comes out in favour of Sweden. It is titled “Non-Covid excess deaths 2020-21: Collateral damage of policy choices?” and includes heart disease and hypertension, diabetes and obesity, drug- and alcohol-induced deaths, road accidents and homicide.

One of the main find-ings was that for the EU as a whole there were approximately 64 non-Covid excess deaths per 100,000 during the period in question. But for Sweden, which didn't have lockdowns, the figure was much lower at 33 per 100,000.

Geoff Moore, Alness, Highland.

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Queue like Beckham

I read with great admiration that David Beckham turned down the offer of jumping the queue with an MP to view the Queen's coffin. He queued for 13 hours.

Susanna Reid and her mother also queued for seven hours. Good on them all. However, I find it disgusting that Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield managed to avoid the queue as they entered as working journalists. Working journalists my foot, they are television personalities, nothing more, nothing less!

Why should they avoid the lengthy queues, and why should MPs do likewise?

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Sylvia Wilson, Edinburgh.

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