Edinburgh residents' plea to SIr Robert McAlpine Ltd to discuss compromise over plans which will block their light

Residents facing the prospect of losing daylight in their flats when double-decker portable cabins are built about a metre from their homes have appealed to the building giant behind the move to meet them to discuss a compromise.

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But so far Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd has failed to respond to any of the approaches about their plans at Caledonian Village, near Haymarket.

There were 133 objections to McAlpine’s planning application, but councillors gave permission in March for the 80 “temporary” cabins, which will be in position for three years, serving as offices, dining, toilet and changing areas for those working on the major hotel, office and shop development at the former Haymarket goods yard.

The cabins will be built in Distillery Lane, on a narrow strip of land between the ends of the flats and the railway line. Trees and shrubs will have to be removed to make space.

One resident said: “These are going to be two-storey cabins, so for us on the ground floor it is going to seriously block out light and our privacy is going to go. Since Covid, most of us are working from home. I'm high risk so I'm more or less stuck in the flat. No-one wants to live in a dark and dingy room and despite electricity going up so much we’ll have to have the light on all day.

"We bought our flat four years ago, but if I was renting I would just pack my bags and go.”

She said the residents had asked McAlpine to meet them for talks to see if they could find some middle ground, but the company had not responded. “We think they could probably build some cabins on the gable ends of our blocks rather than blocking our light or there are other possible options we’d like to discuss, but we’ve not heard back from them at all.”

One resident's view: the greenery will go, to be replaced by double-decker cabins for the next three years.

She said there had been cabins on the Haymarket site itself for a while but they were removed and residents had recently learned that empty offices close to the development had been rented instead. “That was one of the suggestions we put in our objections because there are lots of empty offices around Haymarket. I’m just hoping and praying that wherever they've got the space they just continue with that instead of coming here.”

Sighthill/Gorgie Labour councillor Ross McKenzie said: “What the residents of Caledonian Village have come forward with seems entirely reasonable and they seem very flexible. They just need McAlpine to sit down and speak to them and see if they can come to some agreement, but McAlpine have refused to do that throughout.”

He said he had visited the site and backed the residents’ concerns.“It was pretty clear the ground-floor flats were going to suffer from a fair amount of blocked sunlight and exposure to the general activities in the cabins. Planning didn’t deny that but they felt because it was a temporary structure they didn’t need to pay too much heed to it. But ‘temporary’ is three years and you never know if they’ll end up extending beyond that if it’s behind schedule, so it’s a long period to be affected.”

Councillor Hal Osler, convener of the council’s development management sub-committee, said she could understand the residents' unhappiness but the application had been thoroughly assessed, including the loss of greenspace and daylight. “We’re satisfied that the right decision was made by committee allowing the right infrastructure to be put in place to complete this major development for the city. ”

McAlpine declined to comment.

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