Developers to appeal 'unreasonable nature' of Fountainbridge flats rejection

COUNCILLORS have overturned a recommendation by officials and rejected plans to build canalside flats near Fountainbridge after campaigners complained the proposals included “wholesale failures” to meet guidelines.

Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 5:04 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 5:04 pm
Proposals to build 20 flats near Fountainbridge were rejected by councillors

But developers are set to launch an appeal bid to overturn the refusal and have blasted the “unreasonable nature” of the decision.

Glencairn Properties applied to knock down existing commercial buildings on Lower Gilmore Place to make way for a four-storey block of 20 flats – nine of which were proposed to be affordable homes. But the city council’s development management sub-committee voted six to five to refuse planning permission due to a failure to listen to the judgement of a Scottish Government reporter who dismissed an appeal for a previous application.

Scottish Government reporter Don Rankin said the previous scheme “does not accord with the Fountainbridge development brief in height, massing, bulk and depth” which leads to “problems of appearance, lack of sympathy with the current low-rise building form and some over-dominance of the canal frontage”.

At the formal hearing, Ishbel McFarlane from the Gilmore Place and Lochrin Residents’ Association said the revised plan “has not been modified in key areas in line with the reporter’s findings”.

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Controversial Fountainbridge flats plans set for approval despite residents' campaign

But the developers stressed that the reporter’s judgements had been taken into account with the updated proposals and have “come up with a totally changed design” that has “acceptable scale, height and depth” following the unsuccessful appeal.

Glencairn managing director Daryl Teague said that “this street is in need of some much-needed regeneration” and told councillors the company has consulted with residents “in a meaningful and productive way”.

Paul Scott from the company added: “I can’t understand, if you lived in this locality, why you would be objecting to this regeneration in a way that is going to deliver affordable housing and houses for families.”

Cllr Max Mitchell labelled the design of the building “absolutely splendid”, while planning vice convener, Cllr Maureen Child formally called for the proposals to be approved.

She said: “I like the design and I think we should be supporting the officers’ recommendation with this one, despite the strong feelings of local residents. I think it’s a great design and worthy of our support.”

But other members of the committee pressed for the scheme to be rejected.

“I recognise this areas requires development. I think this is heading in the right direction but we could have a better development here that meets some of the concerns of local residents and better complies with our policies.”

Cllr Joanna Mowat, who also represents the city centre ward, said she was torn by the application but backed calls to refuse permission.

Glencairn confirmed it is set to appeal the decision.

Mr Teague said: “It is unfortunate the planning committee rejected the opportunity to begin the much needed regeneration of Lower Gilmore Place with new homes of which 45 per cent would be affordable, close to Edinburgh city centre.

“Our plans were recommended for approval and met all planning policies along with meeting the Fountain Bridge development brief. We will be submitting an appeal to the Scottish Government within days and will consider an application for costs in parallel due to the unreasonable nature of today’s decision”