Edinburgh residents fight latest proposal for new student accommodation in Eyre Place, Canonmills

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Developers have been urged to think again and abandon controversial plans for new student accommodation at Canonmills.

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

Residents are fighting the proposals to build a block of 142 studio flats for students and nine townhouses on the former Jewson’s builder’s yard at 72-74 Eyre Place and Eyre Place Lane.

They say the influx of students would put extra pressure on already over-stretched local services like GPs and mean a transient population creating instability in the local community.

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Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs said he did not believe the site was appropriate for student accommodation and called on the council to reject the application.

He said: “The council should decide student accommodation should not be part of this development and the developers can then come back with a different plan that doesn't include that.”

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.

Iain MacKenzie, a member of the residents’ campaign group, said: “There were about 145 objections within 24 hours so that would certainly make them realise they had to show some sort of response.”

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An artist's impression of the proposed development in Eyre Place Lane.An artist's impression of the proposed development in Eyre Place Lane.
An artist's impression of the proposed development in Eyre Place Lane.

But he said the amended plan did not change the arguments against the scheme. “They have cut off one end of the student block and added a few townhouses, but it's still an over-large, over-dense student block on this quite poky site so we're still very much against the plan.

"There's an enormous amount of development going on in the area – the RBS site just down the road is going to have more than 1,000 new residents – and local services are oversubscribed. Health centres and dental practices have no more capacity and there's no plans to increase capacity.

"We’re happy to see the site developed, but this particular type of development is inappropriate.”

The residents say they expected sustainable family housing to be built on the site and they would welcome the idea of new permanent neighbours joining the community.

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A survey by the campaign group drew 200 responses, with the huge majority strongly opposing (80.2 per cent) or opposing (16.4 per cent) student accommodation on the site.

They point to the council’s promotion of “20-minute neighbourhoods” and say all the colleges and universities cited by the developers in their documents are more than 20 minutes’ walking distance, two are over a 20-minute cycle ride and five are over a 20-minute bus commute.

And they say the proposed development would mean an over-concentration of student accommodation in the area, with 1,068 units within walking distance in and around Canonmills.

Rachel Mallia, director of development at CA Ventures, said: “Following an extensive public consultation exercise, we amended our initial proposals for the vacant former builders’ yard, with a revised masterplan-led approach for new residential townhouses and purpose-built student accommodation.

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“The townhouses on Eyre Place Lane have been sensitively designed to conform with the existing homes, and address the key piece of feedback we received, which related to concerns regarding student accommodation on this part of the site. We have also adjusted the proposed student block along Eyre Place to address feedback received regarding scale and massing, and any potential impact the proposals may have had on daylight and privacy. The proposed student accommodation proposals will now include 142 bedrooms (down from 210) and represent a suitable and appropriate use for this highly accessible site, whist seeking to address Edinburgh’s substantial shortfall in purpose-built student accommodation.”

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