Developers proposing the controversial redevelopment of a large section of Leith Walk have revealed thousands are in support of the plans.
More than 2,000 letters of support for Drum Property Group’s development proposals on Leith Walk have been lodged with Edinburgh Council, in advance of the committee hearing later on this year.
Drum’s £50 million proposal for the 2.9 acre Stead’s Place site for a mixed-used scheme of affordable housing and student accommodation as well as a hotel, restaurant, café and retail units has drawn controversy since it was first lodged in August.
But developers have said the number of supporting letters demonstrates there are members of the community and local businesses who are behind change in the area.
Group managing director of Drum Graeme Bone said: “This shows that there is a significant appetite amongst local people and businesses welcoming change for this important part of Leith Walk. We have recently witnessed a very aggressive and high profile campaign of opposition to our plans, largely focused on the retention of the existing units along Leith Walk.
“The conversations we have been having with local people tell us something different – that this area has been neglected and desperately needs new investment to create a welcoming, distinctive and accessible destination linked to the rest of the city.
“This is reflected by the high levels of public and local business support for our proposals which present a much more balanced picture of local feeling towards our plans.
“It is clear that existing buildings at Stead’s Place are no longer an economically viable investment, which is why we are proposing to invest £50m in a new mixed-use development when all of the existing tenants move out and the site is completely vacant in 2019.
“Our proposals will bring an added dimension to Leith Walk, opening up what is currently an inhospitable industrial site by creating a vibrant, contemporary and accessible community for residents and visitors.”
Campaigners in opposition to the development, Save Leith Walk, say Drum’s plans ignore the historical significance of the street with the designs not in keeping with the surrounding culture and heritage of the area as well as forcing local businesses from Leith.
They amassed a petition against the plans with nearly 12,000 signatures, which they attempted to hand in to the city council’s planning committee on August 22.
But the petition was refused, which campaigner Ian Hood told the Evening News at the time was “a slap in the face” for the community.
Drum said they had had positive discussions with the current traders to encourage them to return to the new development on completion – offering favourable rents, in line with current levels and significantly lower than market value.