Back in 2016 we reported Council consent for conversion to domestic use of the former Edinburgh City Football Club at 7–8 Baxter’s Place (Ref. 15/01238/FUL; Issue 250). 

Environmental Health expressed reservations at the time, but permission was granted in February 2016 after assurances that acoustic measures would be taken to prevent residents being disturbed by noise from the café and nightclub below.

Little did we know then that, far from adding usefully to the stock of city-centre homes, the one pre-existing and five newly created dwellings would soon be run as short-stay lets.

Problematic party flats

The consequent ‘party flats’ have been a source of noise, mess and general disturbance to neighbours since, much of it fuelled by alcohol. 

This unauthorised change to commercial use became the subject of a Planning Enforcement notice in March this year (Ref. 17/00113/ECOU), which has been suspended while the owner Cornerstone Apartments seeks retrospective permission. City-centre ward councillors have been informed.

The six party-flats now proposed at 7–8 Baxter’s Place have a total of 12 bedrooms, containing 52 beds. See the Drawing of Flat 6 at the link below for an example of these arrangements. [CORRECTION, 6.6.18: After modification, proposal is for five flats with a total of 10 bedrooms containing 48 beds.]

Official recommendation

The latest case (Ref. 17/05645/FUL) is scheduled for consideration by the Development Management Committee on Wednesday, and, to the surprise of many, contains a recommendation from officials that it be approved. 

The application complies with the adopted Local Development Plan and non-statutory guidance. The proposal is acceptable; the change of use from residential to serviced apartments is acceptable in principle and there will be no detrimental impact on neighbouring amenity. There are no implications in terms of the listed building and conservation area, or for human rights and equalities. There are no material considerations that outweigh this conclusion and approval is recommended. 

Neighbours appalled

Locals (14 of whose objections appear online) are aghast, not least because the Council report does not accurately convey the number and location of people living adjacent to the party-flats but not on the same stair.

They are dismayed at official dismissal of past and likely future disruption: ‘Any anti-social behaviour should be reported to Police Scotland.’ Everybody knows that Police Scotland do not have the time or resources to routinely deal with this kind of nonsense. Common sense and past experience suggest large concentrations of short-term visitors whooping it up without a care in the world are not compatible with long-term residents’ amenity.  

Spurtle thinks the reasons to reject this scheme are self-evident. But if the law and Council guidelines indeed offer no help then this is further evidence that local authorities and Holyrood must combine to make changes urgently (Issue 274, p.2).

Edinburgh is transforming before our eyes. We need action to save it now.

[UPDATE, 6.6.18: 'Baxter's Place goes to hearing']

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7–8 Baxter’s Place