'Stalinist' Leith waterfront Skyliner flats approved by Edinburgh Council

Councillors have unanimously approved an £80m development to build four blocks of flats on the Leith Waterfront – despite concerns that affordable housing could return to market use after 25 years.

Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 16:55 pm
The Skyliner flats will be built by S1 Developments at the Leith waterfront

Edinburgh City Council’s development management sub-committee granted planning permission to S1 Developments to construct Skyliner at Ocean Drive to provide 338 build to rent apartments.

Revised proposals include the blocks ranging from 10 to 14 storeys in height after a previous application for 245 homes was approved by councillors last year.

A total of 84 affordable flats will be “pepper-potted” throughout the four “finger” style blocks – but fears were raised these units could return to the private market with an agreement with developers securing “affordable housing for a minimum of 25 years”.

The Skyliner proposals

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Cllr Alex Staniforth said: “We do run the risk that people in 25 years time will be cursing our names because the stock of affordable housing will plummet.”

Concerns were also raised by local residents and community leaders about the height and design of the four blocks – with some labelling the proposals “Stalinist or Soviet”. But officials reassured councillors that each tower will be built with a different bricks to give “each block a different character”.

A large public boardwalk will be created along the edge of the Albert Dock, linking with the existing promenade at Ocean Terminal.

Despite environmental protection officers recommending refusal on noise grounds, planning officials reassured councillors who unanimously approved the plans.

Vice convener, Cllr Maureen Child said: “I clearly think this is a huge improvement on the scheme we saw before.

“The affordable tenancies will be pepper-potted throughout the scheme and will have equal access to the amenities that are provided.”

The application had tallied up dozens of objections – but councillors were reassured that the proposals are appropriate.

Cllr Chas Booth said: “I had some concerns about this development, not least the appearance which has been described as Stalinist, and whether the housing was genuinely affordable or not. However I’m confident that the publicity image which showed dark, satanic buildings was not accurate, and the final structures will be of much lighter materials with some welcome variety.

“I’m confident these flats will be characteristic of Leith, not Moscow.”

Luke McClelland, project manager at S1 Developments, said: “I’m delighted with the decision taken today by councillors. As an Edinburgh-based family company, we are thrilled to see this exciting project given the green light and look forward to breathing new life into a long-neglected area of Leith.

“A key element of the scheme is delivery of a new public boardwalk, served by established cycle routes and the new tram connection, which will provide the local area with a fantastic new amenity space.

“We look forward to getting these proposals underway and to continue working with council officials and the local community to deliver them.”