Edinburgh residents were let down this week by their SNP and Tory MSPs who joined forces in the Holyrood chamber to vote down tougher planning laws that would have helped halt the proliferation of Airbnb and other short-term lets that are hollowing out the city centre for residents and adding to the Disneyfication of the Capital.
Green MSP Andy Wightman had put forward amendments to the Planning Bill that would have required that all short-term lets apply for council planning consent, in the same way that if you wanted to turn your flat into a fried chicken shop you’d require planning consent because that would be a material change of use.
The same argument should apply here. If a residence stops having residents but clients, it’s a change of use.
Instead, the city’s Tory and SNP politicians combined forces to defeat Andy’s plans and instead supported an amendment that will see the introduction of ‘control zones” where planning permission would be required.
The problem with this, though, is that this plan could leave Edinburgh in an even worse situation that we currently have, as it means that there are still no clear rules about Airbnb and short-term letting outside these defined zones that are yet to be determined.
It’s almost exactly what the short-term lets industry had been lobbying MSPs hard for over months, and they got what they wanted.
Of course, no one is saying that Airbnb and short-term letting should be stopped completely, but the SNP and Conservatives let local residents down badly this week by failing to properly regulate. Shame on them.