Planning Proposal for Student Accommodation in Yeaman Place

A planning request to build Purpose Built Student Housing (PBSA) at the site of the scrapyard on Yeaman Place, right next to the canal, has caused some concern with residents of the surrounding area.

You can see the proposals here on the developer's website.

I wrote to everyone on the electoral register in Yeaman Place and Murdoch Terrace a few months ago, to carry out a survey of local residents’ views on the proposal. The vast majority were opposed to construction of more student accommodation in the area. There was clear support for redevelopment of the scrapyard site and particularly for the creation of direct access to the canal from Dundee Street. Like my constituents, I would welcome those proposals, but any proposed direct access to the canal should be suitable for all pedestrians, including those using wheelchairs or mobility aids.

Suggestions were also made that this site would be better suited to development of affordable housing or a public park instead. There is already an overabundance of student housing within a half mile radius – including Bainfield, Arran House, Fountainbridge iQ and Westfield Avenue and several more nearby in Dalry and Gorgie.

I feel that the local community should be protected 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 area. Diversity is important in our local communities. It is also necessary for residents to be able to build an attachment to their local area and find a sense of permanence. If there are a disproportionate number of temporary residents such as students in self-contained accommodation, that diversity is lost and the community suffers from having fewer long-term residents to build and maintain it.

There is a balance to be struck between the needs of students and the needs of residents who have made this area their home. In this particular case, it is clear that the local area neither needs nor would benefit from another student housing complex.

As MP for the area I have already submitted a formal objection.  There is still time to lodge your view on the project. The deadline for commenting on the application is Wednesday 24 August. I know many people have added their views already. If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to do this now.  The easiest way to make comments is to use the online Planning Portal planning application 22/03556/FUL here.

Comments can also be submitted to the Chief Planning Officer in writing at: Chief Planning Officer, PLACE, Waverley Court, 4 East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BG  quoting the reference 22/03556/FUL 

If you are unable to add your comments online and would like some help writing, please drop into my office at 139 Dundee Street and my team can help you. 

Here is my objection in full – please feel free to use its contents if you wish.

 

Objection -  planning application 22/03556/FUL

As Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South West, I object to planning application 22/03556/FUL on behalf of constituents who have contacted me with serious concerns about the proposed development.

My constituents tell me that while they do support development of the site for the good of the community, these proposals for Purpose Built Student Housing (PBSA) will have a damaging impact on them and on the local area.

There is potential for positive development at this site if the views of local residents are taken into account. I carried out a survey of local residents earlier this year. While the vast majority were opposed to construction of more PBSA in the area, there was clear support for redevelopment of the existing scrapyard site and particularly for the creation of direct access to the canal from Dundee Street. Suggestions were made that this site would be better suited to development of affordable housing or a public park instead of PBSA.

Like my constituents, I welcome proposals to create direct access to the canal from Dundee Street. However, I am disappointed that this would not be accessible to all if these proposals were accepted in their current form. I am aware of concerns raised by my colleague Cllr David Key about the lack of an accessible or step-free route through the site. I support his view that any proposed direct access to the canal should be suitable for all pedestrians, including those using wheelchairs or mobility aids.

My main concern is that this proposal is not in line with Policy Hou 8 Student Accommodation. This 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.

This proposal contributes to what is quickly becoming an overabundance of student housing in this area. There are already several purpose-built student housing complexes within a half mile radius – including Bainfield, Arran House, Fountainbridge iQ and Westfield Avenue. There are several further PBSA developments very nearby in Dalry and Gorgie.

It is important that there is diversity in the social composition of residents to create a strong and sustainable community. It is also necessary for residents to be able to build an attachment to their surroundings and find a sense of permanence. If there are a disproportionate number of transient residents of a particular demographic in self-contained accommodation, this diversity is lost and the community suffers from having fewer long-term residents to build and maintain it.

There is a balance to be struck between the needs of students and the needs of residents who have made this area their home. In this particular case, it is clear that the local area neither needs nor would benefit from another student housing complex.

I trust that the Planning Committee will listen to the views of local residents and ensure that it prioritises the diversity, vibrancy and sustainability of the community in Fountainbridge in its decision-making process.

Joanna Cherry KC MP

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