Edinburgh student accommodation: Hearing will give Canonmills residents a say over Eyre Place plans
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Residents battling plans for a 139-bed block of student flats on their doorstep are to get their say at a planning hearing.
The campaigners fear the proposed student accommodation at Eyre Place, Canonmills, will mean a huge increase in noise because of plans for two large roof terraces, as well as a reduction in sunlight, a loss of privacy and a change in the character of the area.
A similar proposal for the same site was put forward last year. Planning officials recommended it should be approved, but councillors agreed to have a hearing. However, the developers, CA Ventures, lodged an appeal claiming the council was taking too long to decide the matter. The move meant the application was taken out of the council’s hands and went instead to the Scottish Government – but the government’s planning reporter rejected the proposal, much to the relief of the residents.
Undeterred, CA Ventures waited just three months before submitting a revised application for the same site, reducing the height from six storeys to five and the number of rooms from 141 to 139, but extending the block further up the lane off Eyre Place. Townhouses proposed for part of the site have also been reduced in number from nine to seven.
More than 450 objections have been lodged against the plans. And this time the residents will get the opportunity to put their case direct to councillors when the development management sub-committee holds a hearing into the application on December 6. Planning officials have not yet made their recommendation on whether the development should go ahead.
Hannah Edwards, one of the residents campaigning against the proposal, said she suspected the developers had felt last time that if there was a hearing the decision would have gone in favour of the objectors.
"It would have been quicker just to wait for the hearing and try to get panning permission that way, but they went down the non-determination route and appealed before a decision was made. It's going through the proper process this time and now we've got a date for a hearing, so we'll get our say. It feels fairer that way, a lot more democratic.
"I really hope common sense will prevail. It feels completely the wrong development for that site. And it seems obvious – there are two large roof terraces, it's going to have a huge impact on noise and daylight. It's just the wrong place for a huge commercial building.”
Inverleith Green councillor Jule Bandel is backing the residents’ objections. She said: “I’m extremely disappointed to see this student housing proposal return yet again with minimal changes, and that the applicant has made no serious efforts to address the community’s concerns. However, I am glad that the community and ward councillors will finally be given a voice and allowed to make the case for why this development is inappropriate for the local area at a hearing as is their democratic right.”
And Inverleith Tory councillor Max Mitchell also welcomed the decision to hold a hearing for the application. He said: “It is absolutely right for councillors to fully examine and interrogate this. I struggle to see how any of the community’s feedback has been taken onboard. Only the eagle-eyed would be able to recognise any changes with this application to the one refused at appeal just five months ago.”
A council spokesperson said the chief planning officer had decided there should be a hearing due to public interest in the proposed development and the intention to hold a hearing for the previous application.