Edinburgh residents win battle to stop controversial student accommodation development at Canonmills
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Residents who battled against proposed student flats at Canonmills are celebrating after the developers lost their appeal and planning permission was refused.
CA Ventures wanted to build student accommodation consisting of 142 studio flats in a six-storey block, along with nine townhouses, at the former Jewson's builder's yard at Eyre Place and Eyre Place Lane. Objectors said the development would overshadow neighbouring properties, block out sunlight and look directly into the flats opposite. They also claimed it would be the fourth new-build student housing development within a one-mile radius and argued the site was more suited to affordable homes.
Planning officials recommended approval of the plans, but the council’s planning committee agreed to hold a hearing into the application. However, CA Ventures stymied that by lodging an appeal, which took the decision away from the council. Now a Scottish Government planning reporter has dismissed the appeal, saying the development did not comply with planning policies.
One of the campaigners, mother-of-three Hannah Edwards said: "It's a big relief. I think we'd all been preparing ourselves for it to go the other way because they do tend to, looking at past appeals over these things. It's really nice that all the hard work has paid off. The whole community is really delighted.”
In her decision, planning reporter Elspeth Cook said the scale, height and massing of the proposed building meant it would have a dominant presence in the lane and would not comply with local development plan policies. She also noted the building would be higher than the adjacent tenements and said its scale was “not appropriate” in the context of Eyre Place Lane.
And she also found the proposals would conflict with planning policies on sunlight, privacy and noise. She said the development would allow “a reasonable level of daylight to the windows of the surrounding properties” but the sunlight to the communal garden, already limited, would be dramatically reduced. She observed that the distance between some flats in Eyre Place and the proposed building was just nine to 13 metres. And she said: “Even though the buildings would be set at an angle I find there is potential for a loss of privacy to the existing rear facing windows.” And she said outdoor communal spaces in the development could cause a noise problem. “It is possible that unregulated use of these spaces in the late evening would have the potential to disturb existing residents.”
Ms Cook concluded: “I am not convinced that the redevelopment of the builders merchant’s yard, offers sufficient justification for setting aside my concerns regarding design and amenity. 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.”
The residents acknowledged the future of the site remains uncertain. Ms Edwards said: “It will definitely be developed and we're not against that, but we're pleased this particular design was seen as wrong for the site in terms of being too high and the sunlight to the garden being blocked. We don't know what is going to happen in the future but we're just going to enjoy this and have a big party to celebrate.”
Some of the neighbours got together for an impromptu celebration when news of their victory came through. “We had a little glass of bubbly and the kids had ice cream. But we're going to have a bigger one with everybody – it has been so much hard work and everyone coming together.”