Old Town Airbnb shut down by Edinburgh Council as short term let application refused

An Airbnb flat must be turned back into a residential home after councillors refused a retrospective planning application - while proposals to convert another apartment into a short term let has been halted from operating.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 6:00 am
A flat at West Bow that has been operating as an Airbnb, will be turned back into a residential home

Councillors have shut down an Old Town flat operating illegally as an Airbnb – while an application for a short term let to be set up in Dalry has been refused planning permission.

The owners of a flat in West Bow, on the corner of the Grassmarket, which has been listed on Airbnb since 2015, will now have to turn it back into a residential flat after councillors upheld refusal of planning permission for a change of use application.

The applicant, named as Olecrose Ltd for the property at 108 West Bow, above the Mutt’s Nuts shop, argued that the Aibnb property “meets the spirit” of Edinburgh City Council’s housing policies as it is located on the first floor, above a retail premises, and the first door accessible on the shared stair. The owners said “guests are carefully vetted prior to booking” and are “not aware that any complaints have ever been lodged in relation to the use”.

But the original refusal notice, issued by planning officers, says change of use permission was refused because it “will have a significant and detrimental impact on neighbouring residential amenity by virtue of increased noise and disturbance and is unacceptable”.

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The applicant took the decision to the council’s planning local review body, but councillors upheld the decision.

Review body convener, Cllr Joanna Mowat, said: “Whilst the recent report from the Scottish Government on short term lets states we are the biggest number of short term lets, we are still only one in six. That leaves five in six that are still in conventional use.

“It is a use that causes disturbance to amenity in the area. I would uphold the officers’ decision and refuse planning permission.”

Cllr Max Mitchell added: “I find the justification for this interesting – that people accept to have a degree of noise in this area. I don’t necessarily agree that having people coming and going on a regular basis once or twice a week is something that’s acceptable.

“It is still a residential area, there are still people that live there who feel they are being pushed out by short term lets.”

A separate application to turn an apartment in Dalry Gait into a short term let was also refused planning permission by councillors.

The ground-floor flat has three bedrooms and wanted to provide accommodation for up to six people, between two and nine nights of stay at a time.

The applicant, Nhung Hoang, argued that the property “is in an ideal location for a short term let flat on the ground floor”.

But Cllr Rob Munn said: “It says it would not adversely affect the character. On the face of that, it seems reasonable, but it goes onto say that a large proportion are already operating as a short term let.

“What we are dealing with here is a change of use. Even with this further information, it’s being put forward that there has been a loss of properties to short term lets.”

Cllr Mowat added: “I think it’s quite clear there does seem to be change of use. Once you change the use, we are sating that is no longer a residential apartment, it’s a commercial use.

“I don’t see anything in this that would convince me to overturn the policy.”

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