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Proposed PBSA in Edinburgh Facing Local Backlash

Posted by Aisling Murphy

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Residents in Canonmills, Edinburgh are pushing back against a proposal for the construction of student accommodation on Eyre Place.

Plans were lodged earlier this month for the erection of student accommodation consisting of 142 studio flats, along with nine residential townhouses.

The site is located at 72-74 Eyre Place and was formerly home to Jewson's builder's yard.

The proposed plans consist of 142 studio flats across six floors, as well as external and internal shared amenity spaces. Plans state that "adequate cycle storage provision is a key component of a project of this nature and will encourage students to cycle to and from university."

The site is very well served in terms of public transport links with many bus stops within walking distance from the site. The site is also located near the Water of Leith walkway as well as within walking distance of Edinburgh University's largest University campuses.

However, local residents have spoken out against the proposed scheme. They have commented that a sudden influx of students would put additional pressure onto already over-inundated local services, such as GPs. They have also raised concerns over the transient population that arises as a result of students, and the instability this could create in the community.

Miles Briggs, Lothian Tory MSP, said: "The council should decide student accommodation should not be part of this development and the developers can then come back with a different plan that doesn't include that."

Developers, CA Ventures, originally proposed the erection of 210 student flats, but adapted plans to consist of the reduced number of student flats, and instead include the townhouses, following an initial flood of complaints.

However, Iain MacKenzie, a member of the residents' campaign group, has said that the amended plans still aren't enough: "They have cut off one end of the student block and added a few townhouses, but it's still an over-large, over-dense student block on this quite poky site so we're still very much against the plan.

"There's an enormous amount of development going on in the area - the RBS site just down the road is going to have more than 1,000 new residents - and local services are oversubscribed. Health centres and dental practices have no more capacity and there's no plans to increase capacity.

"We're happy to see the site developed, but this particular type of development is inappropriate."

Instead, residents have said they would welcome the construction of sustainable family housing on the site.

A survey by the campaign group drew 200 responses, with the huge majority strongly opposing (80.2 per cent) or opposing (16.4 per cent) student accommodation on the site.

Rachel Mallia, director of development at CA Ventures, said: "Following an extensive public consultation exercise, we amended our initial proposals for the vacant former builders' yard, with a revised masterplan-led approach for new residential townhouses and purpose-built student accommodation.

"The townhouses on Eyre Place Lane have been sensitively designed to conform with the existing homes, and address the key piece of feedback we received, which related to concerns regarding student accommodation on this part of the site. We have also adjusted the proposed student block along Eyre Place to address feedback received regarding scale and massing, and any potential impact the proposals may have had on daylight and privacy. The proposed student accommodation proposals will now include 142 bedrooms (down from 210) and represent a suitable and appropriate use for this highly accessible site, whist seeking to address Edinburgh's substantial shortfall in purpose-built student accommodation."