Gorgie Road student flats rejected by Edinburgh Council amid calls for housing on the site
Proposals to build 248 student flats on a disused brownfield site next to the Water of Leith have been turned down by councillors after calls were made for housing to make up part of the development.
Councillors have rejected proposals to build student flats on a vacant brownfield site near the Water of Leith – after no residential housing plans were included in the scheme.
S Harrison drew up scaled-back plans for 248 purpose-built student homes on Gorgie Road after an initial proposal for 269 beds was reduced after discussions between the developers and Edinburgh City Council officials.
The proposals featured the accommodation being built in two blocks – made up of 35 studio rooms and a mixture of clusters ranging from six to 10 bedrooms.
The developers proposed to install 254 secure cycle parking spaces at five locations around the site – while four disabled car parking spaces were included in the plans. Block A, which sits at the eastern side of the site would have risen to four storeys. The second block, which was proposed for the west of the site, would have appeared as a five, six and seven storey building.
But the council’s development management sub-committee turned down the scheme – backing up a recommendation to refuse the proposals by planning officers who called for rejection because “it does not deliver housing at the site”.
Councillors unanimously refused planning permission for the plans – pointing to a rule that developments larger than 0.25 hectares should include 50 per cent of the scheme for residential use. The development area of the site is 0.38 hectares.
Planning convener, Cllr Neil Gardiner, backed up planning officers’ recommendations and reiterated that brownfield sites are the authority’s priority to provide new housing on.
He said: “I’m happy to support the findings of this report. In terms of design, there’s a recognition that Gorgie Road is a major street so it’s acceptable to build a bit higher there. Fundamentally, thee is a requirement for housing and our policy is clearly set out for a site of this size – there should be a housing element.
“We aren’t looking to build on the greenbelt. We are taking every opportunity to use brownfield sites. This is a brownfield site which can be developed for housing and student housing and our guidance is quite clear.”
Planning vice convener, Cllr Maureen Child, added: “The development area is much more than the 0.25 hectares in our policy – if you take the whole area, it’s double that.
“I think we should uphold that policy and go with officers’ recommendations.”
The developers saw their plans for another student housing development at Westfield Road in Gorgie approved despite being recommended for refusal for the same reasons.
David Clancy, development director at S Harrison, said the company will “consider its next steps”.
He added: “We are clearly disappointed that this scheme was refused by the committee. It was recommended for refusal by planning officials on the same grounds as that of our scheme at Westfield, which was approved by the committee last month.
“The development serves to redevelop a brownfield site into much-needed student accommodation, addressing the increasing demand for student accommodation. It also fulfils ambitious growth plans of universities in the city, which are key drivers of the economy.
“This also helps to reduce pressure on the private housing market, in accordance with the council’s own guidance, as well as delivering a substantial amount in additional expenditure into the local economy.”