Bruntsfield courtyard at heart of Boroughmuir school site plans

Fresh plans to breathe new life into one of Edinburgh's most distinctive old school buildings have been submitted for approval
Fresh plans to breathe new life into one of Edinburgh's most distinctive old school buildings have been submitted for approval
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Developers have taken another stab at the design for the former Boroughmuir High School with a fresh proposal to transform the historic Bruntsfield building into 87 mezzanine apartments.

Centred around an open courtyard, Cala Homes said they listened to community feedback to come up with a new design which addresses concerns over height and mass of a new-build affordable housing block.

Cala’s land director Gavin Pope said while he understood the designs will not please everyone he is pleased at the positive feedback the plans received.

He said: “While we appreciate that no development will be universally popular, what was especially pleasing was that many local residents were positive about the changes to the new build aspect – and actively wanting to see the vacant school building returned to life.”

Following a positive turnout of more than 140 neighbouring residents at a recent event at Morningside’s Eric Liddell Centre to learn more about the new proposals, constructive feedback has enabled the developer to take on board further changes.

Mr Pope added: “It was especially important to us that we go back to the community following the changes to our previous plans.

“To that end we thank those that attended the event for their time and comments.

“Comments throughout the day were very useful and we’ve been able to take on board a range of suggestions before we submitted the final application.

“It goes to show the importance of these events in creating a development that works for the surrounding area while delivering much needed homes.”

To reflect surrounding architecture, the new plans include a change to building materials criticised in the original with the use of natural stone and slate to preserve the character of the conservation area.

The refurbishment of the main school building remains relatively unchanged after it was widely praised by planners for its community focussed approach encapsulated within the designs for the central courtyard.

Visitor bike storage areas, bike cleaning facilities and more trees have been added to the plans as well as a commitment to provide every resident within the development an annual bus pass to promote the use of public transport.

Local community groups are aware significant changes have been made to the plans compared to what was submitted last year but said they will reserve judgement until the plans are available for public comment.

A spokesman for Viewforth said: “We don’t want to diminish this as ‘just another development’ – it will be a significant change for the whole community, as much for the community who will become our neighbours – so we await the new plans with anticipation.”

Cala fought off competition from 20 rival bids to secure the school for £14.5m and wanted to create 87 mezzanine apartments and 28 affordable homes.

The developer had been commended on the “innovative” nature of its ideas by council planning officials.

But councillors knocked back the plans in April last year.

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk