COUNCILLORS have approved controversial proposals to replace an office block with flats – despite the planning convener branding the designs “not ideal”.
Dandara has won planning permission from the city council to knock down redundant Pinkhill office block, Traquair House, and replace it with 46 apartments.
Original six-story plans for 75 apartments have been reduced twice by Dandara for the site, close to Edinburgh Zoo – with a four-storey building now to be constructed. The housing will consist of two studios, 16 one-bedroom apartments, 22 two-bedroom apartments and six three-bedroom flats.
The development will include 11 affordable homes, while balconies will be provided for 26 of the apartments. Proposals include 43 car parking spaces, with three accessible and seven electric vehicle spaces.
Officers, who recommended the plans for approval, told councillors that the proposals “comply in terms of daylight standards” and that “the applicant made an effort to meet concerns” of privacy and neighbours’ amenity after a previous scheme was refused permission.
Planning convener, Cllr Neil Gardiner, called for the plans to be approved.
He said: “The proposal in my mind is not ideal but it’s a significant improvement on the previous plans. A lot of the concerns have been met – there’s no direct views into neighbouring gardens.
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“I do have some concerns bot amenity space – it’s not ideal. I’m not sure whether that’s sufficient to win an appeal.”
But Cllr Chas Booth has called for the plans to be halted – pointing to rules over room sizes.
He said: “I agree that this is a big improvement but nonetheless, it does not comply with our policies. Families really struggle to find appropriate accommodation. If we have that policy, I don’t think it’s right for us to selectively apply it.
“I don’t believe this application adequately provides amenity space and green space for future occupants.”
Neighbours previously raised fears the development will add to levels of parking on residential streets, while concerns have been highlighted over privacy for locals.
John Kerr, representing the Pinkhill residents association, said: “As you might imagine, I am very disappointed by the outcome of the proposal to build 46 apartments at 33 Pinkhill. It seems to me like a perfect storm of developer greed and planning incompetence.
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“The two and a half year debacle of the planning associated with an apartment block at 33 Pinkhill is a classic example of planning incompetence from start to finish.
“The councillors are far more interested in upping the housing stock numbers rather than providing a good environment for both new and existing residents. It was the wrong decision but Edinburgh’s future landscape will only be as good as the quality of our planning department which from my viewpoint is rock bottom.”
Dandara say that the site is “ideally suited to attract residents who do not wish to rely on a car to travel to work”.
Niall Macleod, Dandara land director, said: “We very much welcome the support of the committee for our revised proposals. This development will see a brownfield site redeveloped to help meet Edinburgh’s urgent housing and affordable housing needs.
“Throughout the process, we have remained committed to Pinkhill and have worked closely with planning officers in developing these proposals. This development will provide homes that fit in with the area and offer housing options, including affordable homes, in a central location with both established public transport links and secure car parking facilities which include provision for electric vehicles. “