'Kiss of death' for community as HMO approved for Edinburgh 'party flat' street
COUNCILLORS have approved a new House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) being introduced in a street notorious with party flats – despite being warned they are signalling the “kiss of death” for local residents.
The city council’s licensing sub-committee unanimously approved permission for a property at 31 Grove Street to operate as a five-bedroom HMO following an application by Track Twelve Limited.
In May last year, the committee agreed to renew a HMO licence at another Grove Street property despite residents rallying for the plans to be halted. In 2013, Grove Street resident won a battle against party flats – resulting in the council seizing control of two properties.
Local resident Liz Haggard warned councillors that approving the new HMO licence would be “killing the lives of residents”.
She added: “We are a small enclave hanging on in there.
“This proposal has no living room so they can have five bedrooms. This is a greedy proposal – there should be a living room. It’s just another kiss of death to a wee group of residents living in the inner city.
Fellow objector Alan Hunter added: “The transient population in relation to the permanent population is going up all the time.
“We are concerned that eventually this area will become just a handful of long-term residents.”
Patricia Player called on the city council to “try and keep a balance in the city centre” and to “focus on family a little bit more”.
She added: “My worry is the loss of community due to families being squeezed out because they cannot compete with investors.
“I have brought three children up in Grove Street with excellent schooling. This would make an excellent family house in the city centre – something that’s lacking more and more in the city centre.”
Officials added: “The nature of the objections are based on the number of HMOs and short term lets in the area and the effect this is having in the community around them.”
Solicitor Stephen Coyle, representing the applicant, said: “We are aware of those historic issues but we cannot comment on what happened years ago.
“It’s not in the plans to be a short term holiday let property. We have no control how long someone may stay there.”
Councillors approved the licence for one year after being reassured by the applicant that it would be a sensitive let where tenants are chosen based on an understanding not to disturb neighbours – with advanced checks and references.
Addressing the objectors, licensing convener, Cllr Cathy Fullerton, said: “As opposed to Airbnb, a HMO licence gives the council powers to enter the property and deal with any complaints.
“Whilst I accept the history of Grove Street, given what we have heard, the agent has given that assurance it will be a sensitive let and there’s a willingness to be good neighbours.
“If there’s any complaints at all, you get in touch with the licensing department and all complaints will be investigated.”