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Residents Complain Over Edinburgh PBSA Construction

Posted by Calum Martin in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

The Fountainbridge housing development in Edinburgh has caused a string of complaints from residents, who claim the developers have gone back on promises made regarding noise and disturbance.

Developers Glencairn Properties are behind the purpose-built student accommodation scheme, which was originally planned to become a four-storey block of 20 flats.

The firm then submitted an application to change the plans to a 74-bed student accommodation block, which was later approved.

Managing director of Glencairn, Daryl Teague claimed the original plans did not make financial sense due to the inclusion of 9 affordable homes in the construction.

Mr Teague commented: "Originally we bought the site for residential use and we tried to pursue residential development. Until you get through the full process of planning permission you don't fully know what the cost is going to be."

Regarding the change of plans, a number of local objections were received with many residents claiming there was already an over-supply of student accommodation in the area.

A spokesperson for the Gilmore Place Lochrin Residents Association, Ishbel McFarlane, has claimed the company has made a "huge raft" of changes to the plans which have impacted those living in the vicinity of the development.

She commented: "The developer had agreed to build a 10ft fence 1.5 metres from our boundary to protect our privacy and help reduce noise - now it has just disappeared.

"There were to be trees along their boundary to help with screening for privacy and noise reduction but they have also been unilaterally removed from the plans.

"And they have removed the basement floor so the plant room is being relocated alongside my neighbour's boundary wall."

Some of the changes to plans, which include a lit pergola and outdoor cinema, have been approved as "non-material variations" which can be approved without referral to the committee.

Ms McFarlane commented: "The council's own guidelines say the cumulative impact must be considered and while each variation may be minor in itself the combined impact could result in more significant changes which could require a new application."

"Some of the amendments completely ignore agreements which Glencairn made directly with the local residents. The developer has now unilaterally discarded these arrangements from their plans without any consultation."

Defending the changes, Mr Teague said: "By retaining the existing wall we addressed the boundary situation and it would not be reasonably practical to build a secondary wall."

He also commented that trees could not be planted as proposed due to the number of drains running under the ground.

The basement has been removed from plans, as it would have involved a prolonged programme of deep excavations. This has reduced the number of student bedrooms to 69 in total.

Mr Teague also insisted the outdoor cinema was no longer going ahead and that the festoon lighting would be below the rear boundary wall line.

He commented: "As with all brownfield developments, not all elements of the site are known until full demolition and ground investigations take place.

"We have reacted to the site challenges by going through the correct channels to obtain the necessary permissions."