The appeal has been allowed by Mr Croft, so the development will go ahead. We are very disappointed by this decision. We will be asking questions as to how this could have happened.
Local resident, John Lightfoot, has been published in the Scotsman newspaper saying:
"A Scottish Government Reporter has recently granted permission on Appeal for the developer S.Harrison to build a 4-storey block of student flats at East Newington Place in Edinburgh's Southside.
The decision goes against 96 local objections, the 'vehement opposition' of Southside Community Council, and a unanimous decision from the Council Planning Committee.
The Reporter's justification, beyond pages of quibbling on matters of opinion and unknown Census data, is his belief in the 'significant advantages in locating dedicated student accommodation with appropriate access to the University'.
The Reporter's decision is final.
Consequently, Southside faces more student accommodation being built, against Council guidance protecting neighbourhoods from over-concentration of students: for Southside the overall proportion of students approaches 50%, in East Newington Place itself it will be 94%.
Second, East Newington Place, a narrow non-tenemental cul-de-sac, will have a tenement-sized building planted along its southern side; the Reporter says 'a structure of some substance ... a modern interpretation of the local pattern of large tenement buildings'. This 'modern tenement' is much closer (14.5m) to the Listed terrace opposite than is the local norm for tenements (20m). All in contravention to the Local Plan, which says new construction should respect existing buildings in 'height and form', and 'scale and proportions, including the spaces between buildings'.
Third, the new block contains only single-room studios, a form found to increase isolation and risk to mental health. The forthcoming Council 2030 Plan explicitly forbids student developments with more than 10% of such rooms.
Most importantly, what does the decision say about the health of Local Democracy in Scotland? Since the united opposition of residents and Local Authority failed to effect a single change to the application, I would say it shows the whole process to be a farce, and an exercise in pretendy people power."
We are pleased to report that the Council has unanimously rejected plans for the building of more student accommodation on East Newington Place.
Our thanks to the members of the Development Management Sub-committee who made this decision, despite a recommendation from the Planning officials to grant permission.
The developers have lodged an appeal against this decision. Details can be found on the DPEA website at:
PPA-230-2377 Planning Permission Appeal and
CAC-230-2006 Conservation Area Consent Appeal (Demolition)
Reporter: Mr Trevor Croft
A site visit will be carried out. The reporterdecided that they do not require to be accompanied on their inspection of the site.
Target date for decision: 10th August 2022
The deadline for any submissions was 15th June 2022. The Southside Community Council response can be seen here.
This result raises a number of questions about the planning process. The developers have been put to considerable expense in preparing their application, having had pre-application discussions with the City Planning Department. Why is it that the Planning Department is at odds with the elected Councillors making the decisions? Why are the Planning Department so vague about student numbers in the area? Why are the policies on which these decisions are based so imprecise?
We shall continue to keep an eye on this one, and other developments proposed in our area. We shall also be asking questions about the recommendations of the Planning Department.