I have made a formal objection to the student housing proposal at the Gorgie Road Scotmid site on behalf of constituents who have contacted me with their concerns.
The full text of my objection was as follows:
As Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South West, I object to planning application 19/00863/FUL on behalf of those of my constituents who have contacted me with serious concerns about the proposed development.
My constituents, over one hundred of whom have already registered their objections on the planning portal, tell me that they believe this proposed development will have a damaging impact on their community and on the local area.
The main issue that my constituents have raised is that, if approved, a new student housing development would have a significant negative impact on the balance and sustainability of their community. Planning policy is intended to protect communities from experiencing an excessive concentration of student accommodation to an extent that would be detrimental to the maintenance of balanced communities or to the established character and residential amenity of the locality. I know myself that Gorgie is a diverse community with a varied social composition where residents have a strong sense of permanence and attachment to their local area. This means there is a great deal of commitment to improving the local area through a number of community projects led by and for the people of Gorgie. My constituents are worried that the character of the Gorgie community could be lost if there were to be an influx of transient residents with no attachment to the local area.
In addition, my constituents have raised a number of concerns about the development itself with me. They have told me that the design of the proposed six-storey building is not in keeping with the character or scale of the local tenement housing and represents significant overdevelopment of the site. Some also believe that the proposed development would limit sunlight and daylight to the properties and gardens of near neighbours and would have an impact on the privacy of local residents.
It seems clear to me that there is overwhelming and unified opposition to this development among local residents who have contacted me to express their views. I am aware that the issue of student housing is a somewhat contentious topic in Edinburgh anyway, and that there is a fine balance to be struck between the needs of the students drawn to our city by our world-class universities and the needs of permanent residents who call the area home, but it is vital that the views of residents are taken into account.
I trust that the Planning Committee will listen closely to the views of local residents and ensure that it prioritises the diversity, vibrancy and sustainability of Gorgie’s community in its decision-making process.