Planners reject Leith housing over light fears

There are fears the flats at the site would impact on sunlight in Leith. Picture: contributed
There are fears the flats at the site would impact on sunlight in Leith. Picture: contributed
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developers are fighting a decision to build a major residential complex near Leith Walk after it was rejected because the buildings would block out too much sunlight.

Barratt East Scotland and Long Harbour want to build 241 flats and three commercial outlets on the former Royal Mail sorting office site on Brunswick Road, close to the top of Leith Walk.

The city council’s planning committee refused permission for the development, however, citing the impact on sunlight and outlook for neighbours as well as an unsuitable mix of housing types and sizes amongst the reasons.

Planning vice-convener Sandy Howat labelled the scheme as “Soviet” in nature, while a separate committee member said the proposals had resembled an “army camp” and “Weetabix architecture”.

The developers are now challenging the refusal through the Scottish Government’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals after lodging official paperwork this month.

Opponents of plans to build housing on green-belt land have also hit out at planning chiefs, claiming brownfield locations such as the 1.6-
hectare Brunswick Road site should be used first at all costs.

Edinburgh must deliver about 30,000 new properties by 2024, with residential developments in the pipeline for green belt areas in the city’s west and south-east to meet targets.

Edinburgh Western MSP Colin Keir said: “These brownfield sites should be used before we start digging into other things.

“That (Brunswick Road) site has been an industrial site and if it’s not being used for industry, I’m quite sure it would be quite good for housing.”

Under previous designs, the development would be up to six storeys high and split into four blocks. The homes would be either one or two-bedroom flats. A total of 153 parking spaces were also proposed.

Consultation on site plans had been carried out over more than two years. It is understood the developers are angry at the length of negotiations given the process ended in refusal.

In appeal papers lodged on October 3, a statement on behalf of Barratt said: “It is suggested that the planning system has, disappointingly, failed in respect of this case. The decision notice is out of kilter with national planning and economic directive, local policy and guidance.”

But ward councillor and planning committee member Deidre Brock said: “It’s a very important site. I’m disappointed that developers are not continuing the dialogue with planning that I understood they were having.”

Planning convener Cllr Ian Perry said: “We are open to discussing with the developer how to resolve these issues to ensure the site’s redevelopment benefits the local community.”