On Tuesday, I went to the public meeting about the proposed development on the site of the current Blue Goose pub and the derelict Westfield Motors the opposite shore of the Water of Leith (which has now reached the point of applying for planning permission) and a neighbouring proposal to build houses on the site of a car showroom (which is at the pre-planning stage).
concerns centre on the development of the Blue Goose site (Westfield Motors is derelict and ugly and needs to
be developed though there are issues round the scale of what is
being proposed and I have no problem in principal with a car showroom being replaced with housing, though again there are issues over the size of the proposed development). The Blue Goose is a thriving pub with the best beer
garden in Edinburgh, much more of a community asset than yet another
block of student flats would be (though the owner of the Blue Goose spoke at the meeting about how he barely makes enough money to pay staff wages).
If the Blue Goose and Westfield Motors are covered in student
flats then that would hugely increase littering and potentially other
anti-social behaviour along that area of the Water of Leith walkway as
students would use the walkway as a short cut to get to Napier
University. The height of the buildings next to the walkway would make
the walkway very dark, and as the council won't put up lighting along
the walkway (to retain its rural feel and because there are bats there)
then people might start to feel unsafe and not use the walkway for
recreation. Also the flats would have very little natural light as the
opposite side of the walkway is dense with trees (and long may it remain
so). Having two large developments built here at the edge of the river could also impact on general river ecology, including the kingfishers and otters that live along this stretch of the Water of Leith. It would also hugely change the character of this stretch of the river, changing it from a semi-rural area to an urban area. If all three developments go ahead at the scale proposed then the amount of traffic in the area will increase hugely, leading to greater air pollution and higher rates of road traffic accidents.
I was very unimpressed by the architects and the other representatives of the developers. They were rude (one of them spoke over the chair of the meeting, another made a snide remark about 'people should get hearing aids' when someone asked him to use the microphone, they constantly rolled their eyes whenever anyone challenged them on anything.) Worst of all they tried to mislead the audience on what are material planning issues that can be commented on in response to a planning proposal, repeatedly telling us that concerns over antisocial behaviour are not relevant. The official Edinburgh Council guidance on what are relevant, material planning issues is here, and it is clear that antisocial behaviour is covered under noise and disturbance.
You can comment on the application to build student flats on the site of the Blue Goose and Westfield Motors via the City of Edinburgh Planning Portal, details of how to do this are on the Craiglockart Community Council website. Alternatively you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to your Edinburgh City councillor. The closing date for comments is 8 January 2016. The reference number for this application is 15/05401/FUL and this number must be quoted in all correspondence.