Edinburgh student flats: Protest held at Canonmills over controversial Eyre Place development
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Residents fighting plans for a student accommodation development on their doorstep have staged a protest at the proposed site.
Local people living around Eyre Place at Canonmills say the planned six-storey block containing 142 studio flats on the former Jewson's builder's yard at 72-74 Eyre Place and Eyre Place Lane would overshadow neighbouring properties, block out sunlight and look directly into the flats opposite. They also claim it would be the fourth new-build student housing development within a one-mile radius. And they argue the site is more appropriate for affordable homes.
At the protest on Saturday morning, residents carried placards saying “Overshadowed, overlooked, overdeveloped” and “Stop this daylight robbery”. They were joined by two Lothian MSPs – Tory Miles Briggs and Labour’s Foysol Choudhury – as well as councillors for the area. Council planning officials recommended granting permission for the development, but the planning committee agreed to hold a hearing into the proposals. However, the developers then lodged an appeal with the Scottish Government, which takes the decision out of the council’s hands. A government planning reporter is expected to make a final decision, granting or refusing planning permission, by May 10.
Mother-of-two Hannah Edwards, one of the residents leading the protest, said: “One of the biggest fears is just the sheer height and density of the building they're proposing in this really constrained site. We're going to go from having open outlooks to a six-storey building, taller than the tenements on both sides.” She said the small community garden whih residents created together during Covid would fall victim to the development. “It’s a great place for kids to play and we had a little jubilee party there, but that’ll just be gone, completely overshadowed, with no sunlight at all.”
And she said existing flats like hers would be overlooked by the new block. “They're also having roof terraces all the way round and on the fifth floor a big open terrace attached to a communal dining room, so privacy is going to be like a goldfish bowl – 142 students being able to look directly into our flats from a really close proximity. It's just the wrong development on the wrong site."
Another resident, Irene Kernan, said: “This is a really strong community. We've got residents of all ages – families, retired people, working people and students. It is a really nice community area. The fact that a large student building is going to be dropped in the middle of this community seems really inappropriate. We have real concerns about its use during festival time, for example, because it will be short lets; we have concerns about traffic and access; and we just feel there is an opportunity to develop a site like this more in keeping with the 20-minute city aspirations and to be aware of the local community's wellbeing.”
Mr Briggs, said: "Today's demonstration shows the extent of local feeling against this development. The scale of the proposed development is out of keeping with the current neighbourhood and would be inappropriate. Decision makers have dismissed the opinion of local residents so far, but cannot continue to do so. There is cross party support that this development should not go ahead as planned. I have previously called on a moratorium to building student accommodation in Edinburgh and this proposed development is an example of why."
The developers, CA Ventures, originally proposed 210 student flats for the site, but reduced the number to 142 and added nine townhouses following objections from residents. But the revised plans still attracted 398 objections compared with 25 supportive comments.