Corstorphine Hospital revamp stalled over concerns that older people will find it too hard to access
Councillors have demanded more detailed information from developers hoping to transform a former hospital into housing over how residents will climb a steep access road.
Sundial Dundas Corstorphine Ltd has applied for planning permission to convert the former Corstorphine Hospital and its grounds into 76 apartments – with 32 homes as part of the refurbished hospital building and 44 new flats built in the grounds.
In February, Edinburgh City Council’s development management sub-committee was “minded to grant” planning permission for the scheme subject to “the provision of an improved access across the site”.
In their report to councillors, the council’s planning officials recommended that an option is approved, which includes “additional resting places and used the principal accesses to the apartment blocks”.
Planning convener, Cllr Neil Gardiner, said: “I’m going to ask for a continuation to provide that information – particularly over the access. We need to be comfortable that the gradient isn’t too steep to use.
“It may well be that it’s older people that occupy houses at the top and that you can get from the landings onto the terraces. It’s essential that everybody enjoys the same rights.
“Unless we have the information that we know they’re reasonable gradients, I feel difficulty in supporting this. It is not unreasonable to know what those gradients are and to have officer confirmation that they are considered reasonable.”
Cllr Hal Osler suggested that disability and accessibility groups are consulted over whether the proposals are acceptable.
Cllr Gardiner added: “If they consider that it’s reasonable, they are the experts and I’m more than happy to go along with that.”
But other councillors called for the plans to be approved, with Cllr Joan Griffiths asking for a handrail to be installed to help residents walk up and down the steep slope.
She said: “I feel they have tried to mitigate the issue of access to the top. I think it is quite a good compromise. I just think the other options would not be acceptable, in my mind.
“I think if there was a handrail there as well, that would be another way of mitigating it – and I would be proposing that we accept it.”
Cllr Joanna Mowat added: “I am unwilling to delay this additional housing any further. This is always a balance.
“This is private housing, people do have a choice about whether they wish to live here. No-one is going to be forced to live here, no-one is going to be made to live here and I think it’s important to bare that in mind.”
Councillors agreed for the application to be put on hold for further information and clarification over the access route to be provided by the developers.
David Bol , Local Democracy Reporting Service