Edinburgh housing: Locals fighting Eyre Place student housing accuse developers of 'bulldozing' over community

Locals fighting student housing plans left furious after hearing to address concerns set not to go ahead
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Residents living in Cannonmills have accused developers behind controversial student housing plans of trying to ‘gag’ the local community.

Councillors had agreed unanimously to hold a hearing before a decision was made after proposals for 142 studio flats on the “complex” site of the recently-demolished builders merchants attracted nearly 400 objections from locals. But developers have now lodged an appeal with Scottish Ministers meaning that a hearing will not go ahead. The proposals will be decided on by a reporter - a lawyer specialising in planning cases.

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Developers claim proposals to build the block of studio flats for students and nine townhouses on the former Jewson’s builder’s yard at 72-74 Eyre Place and Eyre Place Lane would have a ‘positive’ impact on the area. But residents say the area is ‘unsuitable’ for student flats and claim it will diminish amenities, generate noise and block light and views.

Residents say locals concerns being 'bulldozed'Residents say locals concerns being 'bulldozed'
Residents say locals concerns being 'bulldozed'

Mum-of-two Hannah Edwards said: “It feels like we are being gagged and bulldozed over here. It’s legal to appeal to Scottish Ministers but in this case, it’s clearly a tactic to silence the community who deserve the chance to ask questions. Our MSP, local councils and the community council are all on our side and the hearing in March would have been the next step.”

"None of the major concerns have been addressed. The site would be imposing and leave us totally boxed in. I think families like us will be driven out.”

"It was agreed by council this is a complex site. The law they are exploiting is in place to stop bottlenecks in the system not to bypass community scrutiny. We know we have a strong case but it’s so much harder for people to wade through tonnes of planning documents online and then put together concerns in writing. If they truly cared about addressing concerns of the community they could have waited a couple of weeks to allow the hearing to go ahead.”

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All four Inverleith councillors and Lothian MSP Foysol Choudhury also called for a hearing to allow the community’s voice to be heard. In total, the council received 398 objections and 25 statements of support.

Artists impression of the developmentArtists impression of the development
Artists impression of the development

Planning officials at the city council have backed the proposals, which were amended to include nine residential townhouses but it was agreed unanimously by members of the planning sub-committee agreed unanimously on January 11 that there should be a hearing for the applications.

The developers, CA Ventures, originally proposed 210 student flats for the site, but reduced the number and added the townhouses after a flood of objections from the residents. An appeal was lodged with Scottish Ministers on the grounds that the council hasn’t reached a decision about the case within the statutory timescale required. The two relevant applications were submitted to the local authority at the end of July 2022, and were scheduled for determination by September 30.

CA Ventures has been contacted for comment.