Thursday 17 December 2015

Proposed Developments for Water of Leith at Slateford

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). 

My 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 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.


Simon Douglas Thompson said...

All the new housing developments here are horrible cheap affairs, boxes with windows. One has just gone up next to the nature reserve I run through.

RG said...

Good to have groups and citizens watching these kinds of things and studying and making appropriate comments. Yay! Money always talks loud.

ArthuringOn said...

In California, our CA Environmental Quality Act requires "avoidance" as the first option meaning all new impacts must be avoided. They must locate a project in a
low impact or even disturbed area. They have to show they have exhausted this as an option before expanding the project footprint into untouched land. Then it goes into "minimizing" and finally, if an area is going to be, well, all but destroyed, it's called "mitigation". They have to mitigate the impacts by buying up land to protect, restoring habitat off-site, etc. Of course, it's political as hell and often has nothing to do with the "environmental impacts". I am afraid it all comes down to who sits on your local board/council.

Good for you Juliet!

Crafty Green Poet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crafty Green Poet said...

Hi Virgina - the issue is complicated at this site as the land is already in use (there are no plans to build on areas that are currently natural) and the application is to change use of the area. The issues are around the scale of the proposed new developments and the increased number of residents they would bring into the area and the impact this would have on the surrounding area. I'm going to blog about this again very soon.