Student Housing, East Newington Place

The Southside Community Council response to the appeal

We (Southside Community Council) are responding to the appeal against the refusal to grant planning permission to build purpose built student accommodation at 4B East Newington Place, Edinburgh (PPA-230-2377). Much of the appeal seems to be on the question of whether the building will fit into the character of the area, and its impact on its surroundings. This arguably is quite subjective, but it is unarguably a larger structure than the one it is replacing and will affect the character of the street it is on, and from the responses from locals to the application it is clear many residents feel it will definitely negatively affect the character of the street and the local area. We want particularly to push back against the assertion by the appellant that there is no issue with the proportion of students in the local area. While it may be the case that 'locality' may be ambiguous, the term does seem to have been defined in such a way (an area within 800m of the site) that it would meet the requirement that the student population in the local area does not exceed 50%. However, as stated at the committee, the data it was based upon is likely to be out of date as it is, and a much more useful comparison would be to look at the actual community students will most likely be interacting with, in this case, Southside/Newington. The local area has a very high student population, as indicated in the 2011 census. Taking the Southside and Newington Community council area overall, the student population was standing at 59%, over the 50% threshold, and many smaller areas within that had proportions over 70%. This was before the construction of further purpose built student accommodation in the area which will have only increased it. This poses various challenges already covered by many of the submissions made to the original application, including the difficulty we have faced as Southside Community council when trying to get representation from a local community that is so transitory.

As to the claim that this would only add a small number of student residents to the local area, we don't think this is relevant to whether the development should be approved. There is already an oversaturation of students in the local area, and while this particular development may not add many more accommodation units as a proportion it doesn't change the point of principle that additional student accommodation should not be built in areas where the student population is already so high. It would also remove a potential brown field site that could be developed for non-student housing.

As we understand it, the University of Edinburgh itself has not been looking at further developments in this local area and is more interested in developing sites in other areas less saturated with students. Also, the form of the accommodation itself (100% studio flats) meets neither the preference of the University or the guidance that is going to be in the City of Edinburgh's City Plan 2030, as studio flats are felt to be quite isolating for the students making use of them.

We hope you will uphold the planning refusal for this development.

Yours faithfully

Stephen Rodger

Secretary, Southside Community Council