Water of Leith student flats given go-ahead

Lanark Road student flats. Picture: Contributed
Lanark Road student flats. Picture: Contributed
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Proposals to build more than 100 student flats next to the Water of Leith have been approved – despite a councillor claiming that it would contribute to “the death of the greenbelt by 1,000 cuts”.

Plans to construct 105 units in four blocks of flats along Lanark Road were given
the green light by the City of Edinburgh Council’s development management sub-committee.

The scheme by Lanark Road Living Limited will see a car garage next to the Crosskeys pub demolished to make way for the purpose-built accommodation. Approximately 125 square metres of the site will encroach onto greenbelt land which is currently not accessible to the public – 7 per cent of the overall development, mostly used as a bike storage unit.

Cllr Alex Staniforth called on the committee to reject the proposals due to the encroachment on the greenbelt.

He said: “I think we should refuse this. I think we should be very strict with this, otherwise we see the death of the greenbelt by 1,00 cuts.

“If it’s only a small amount, why haven’t they presented us with a designed bike storage that doesn’t flood and doesn’t take up greenbelt space?”

Each studio flat will have an en-suite bathroom as well as individual cooking facilities. There will also be a main reception and ‘break-out area’ on the ground floor within a courtyard block. Cllr Chas Booth echoed calls for refusal in an attempt to protect the city’s greenbelt from development.

He said: “I think there’s a real danger that if we allow a bit of nibbling away to the greenbelt, eventually we have no greenbelt left.”

But other members of the committee agreed with council officers that the exception to greenbelt policy should be allowed, as it will have a minimal impact. Planning convener Cllr Neil Gardiner, said: “Given the site is not a great asset to the city, in this instance it is not going to undermine our stance on the greenbelt.

“We are not whittling away at it.”

Cllr Hal Osler added: “I think we are all very conscious about how important the greenbelt is but I think we need to understand that this site as it stands serves no purpose.”

In 2016, permission to build a larger development of student accommodation on Lanark Road was refused.

The approved flats will be served by four bus routes, as well as five parking spaces and access to the Water of Leith Walkway.

Cllr Jo Mowat warned the committee that refusing the application could leave the council open to a costly appeal loss. Councillors approved the application.