Edinburgh student accommodation: New application for Eyre Place, Canonmills, just three months after refusal
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Developers have submitted a fresh application for student flats at Canonmills – just three months after their previous plans for the same site were rejected.
And residents who launched a determined campaign of opposition to the earlier proposals for the former Jewson's builder's yard at Eyre Place and Eyre Place Lane say the changes which CA Ventures have made to their plans are minimal.
The company’s last application was for a six-storey block of 142 student flats along with nine town houses, but residents argued the development would overshadow neighbouring properties, block out sunlight and look directly into the flats opposite. Councillors had planned to hold a hearing on the proposals, but CA pre-empted that by appealing to the Scottish Government. However, in June a government planning reporter refused the scheme, saying the scale of the proposed student block meant it would have a dominant presence in the lane and it conflicted with planning policies on sunlight, privacy and noise.
Now CA have submitted a new application, reducing the number of flats from 142 to 139 and the townhouses from nine to seven. The height of the student block has been reduced, but with the building now extending further up the lane, and the communal garden is still dramatically overshadowed. And the plans include two roof terraces, which residents say will inevitably mean a significant noise nuisance.
Mother-of-three Hannah Edwards said it was clear the proposal was going to have a hugely negative effect on existing residents. “To have studio flats and be able to cram as many rooms as they can into a small amount of space, they have to provide social space – and because it’s such a constrained site, two-thirds of the social space is outdoors, which is obviously going to have noise implications. There would now be two large roof terraces and high up, noise carries more.
“One of the reporter’s key reasons for dismissing the appeal seemed to be that as you go down the lane there is a quite a quiet, intimate feel and there has never been buildings of scale there – it’s difficult to see how you could retain that with a big commercial building with all that outdoor social space and which is probably going to be holiday lets in the summer as well. It’s clearly going to have a detrimental effect on neighbours.”
Ms Edwards said the proposed development remained “completely inappropriate” for the site. She said: "They have reduced the height but it’s still quite an imposing, big, dense building – I don’t think anybody feels there has really been significant enough change to make it okay.”
She said one part of the development which was overshadowing the garden had been altered, but it made “negligible” difference. She said: “It just allows light onto some steps and pot plants, it’s not a space that people could sit and enjoy.” And she said the communal garden would still be overshadowed for large parts of the day. According to the figures, at 2pm, 118 square metres of the garden currently gets sunlight; under the previous design that would have been cut to 22 sq metres; now it would be 58 sq metres, but the extra 36 sq metres was “not useful space”. She said: “The grassed area is still totally overshadowed – at 4pm we currently get 100 sq metres of sunlight, which would still go to zero; and at 5pm we get 78 sq metres and that would still go to zero.”
The residents have always said they are not opposed to development of the site, but believe affordable homes would be more appropriate than student accommodation. Ms Edwards said: "We’re very open to have conversations with the developer. Everyone is agreed it is a useful site that could be developed, but any development needs to enhance the area and be sympathetic to the surroundings and benefit everyone or at least have a neutral effect.”
Agents for CA Ventures have been approached for comment.