Controversial Fountainbridge flats plans set for approval despite residents' campaign

COMMUNITY campaigners have blasted planning officials for ignoring the findings of a Scottish Government reporter as controversial housing proposals for Fountainbridge are set to be approved.

Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 11:45 am
Flats proposals for Lower Gilmore Place in Fountainbridge

Planning officers have recommended proposals by Glencairn Properties to build 20 flats along with ground-floor office space at Lower Gilmore Place are approved by the city council’s development management sub-committee. The plans will be subject of a formal hearing on Wednesday after councillors demanded the full facts are laid before the committee.

If approved, five one-bedroom properties, 11 two-bedroom flats and four three-bedroom homes will be built on the site – with former commercial workshops, martial arts school and the pregnancy and parents centre being knocked down to make way for the four-storey development.

But the Gilmore Place and Lochrin Residents’ Association (GPLRA), are calling for councillors to take a decision of a Scottish Government reporter into account, which they claim is not considered by a report byplanning officers.

In August 2018, the Scottish Government reporter dismissed an appeal by the developers for the scheme. In 2017, Glencairn withdrew an earlier application for the same site following objections by 107 local residents. A subsequent Glencairn application, in 2018, was subject to 120 objections before losing the appeal.

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In his decision notice, reporter Don Rankin said: “It is clear to me that the proposal does not accord with the Fountainbridge development brief in height, massing, bulk and depth. This produces problems of appearance, lack of sympathy with the current low-rise building form and some overdominance of the canal frontage. It would also result in crowding of the existing Dunedin Canmore residential development and reduced potential rear amenity space.

“I therefore conclude that the proposed development does not accord overall with the relevant provisions of the development plan and that there are no material considerations which would still justify granting planning permission.”

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They added: “The applicant has since considered the reporter’s findings in detail and has redesigned the proposal to overcome the issues raised in the decision.”

But campaigners say the latest design is essentially the same as the one already rejected by the Scottish Government’s reporter.

Ishbel McFarlane, on behalf of the GPLRA, said: “We welcome the concept of an appropriate development in Lower Gilmore Place. However, it has to be in harmony with the surrounding area, and not a monolithic, overcrowded shapeless block.

“The council’s own planning documents lay out an attractive vision for the Fountainbridge area. We, supported by the Scottish Government reporter’s findings, want to see that vision realised.”

Local ward Cllr Claire Miller, who will speak at Wednesday’s hearing, added: “While the current vista at Lower Gilmore Place is not the most pleasant and could benefit from a facelift, residents in the area are deeply worried that it will be replaced with something worse if planning consent is granted.

“Local community groups and private developers have worked incredibly cooperatively on the other sites around the canal, so I’m particularly disappointed that Glencairn has not been able to propose a scheme which would fit with the vision residents have created for their neighbourhood.”