The Thistle Property Group has returned to the Planning fray with a new design for the old Canon Mill at 1–3 Canon Street (Ref. 18/07826/FUL).

Previous proposals lodged in January were withdrawn at the end of July

The latest plan is for change of use from office to residential, to retain the stone elevations of the old mill, and demolish and replace the rear extension to accommodate 11 new flats (2 studios, six 1-bed; three 2-bed), and 58 sq.m. of commercial space on the ground floor. It follows consultation with a Council Planning official in early September.

Key elements of the design include:

  • retention of the pitched roof and pantiles, but with the addition of 4 zinc dormer windows
  • on Eyre Place, removal of three mid-level windows and realignment of the six remaining ones
  • replacement of the current timberframe shopfront with modern glazing
  • widening of a south-eastern section of pavement from Eyre Place to a new domestic entrance on Canon Street
  • new extension to be faced with dressed ashlar sandstone, matching the mill; set-back terraces enjoying views over the petrol station; clear delineation between old and new.
  • 22 gas-powered bike-parking places accessed from Canon Street; no vehicle spaces
  • shared internal bin store accessed from Eyre Place. 

The developers say the proposals are compliant with good-practice guidelines, and that the Average Daylight Factor for all the flats exceeds Edinburgh Design Guidance. The proposed extension is no closer than the existing one to the tenements opposite: ‘In these situations privacy will be achieved through the installation of blinds, curtains or similar.’

First thoughts

A first glance at the proposals suggests to Spurtle that they are a great improvement on those submitted before.

The Design Statement is oddly reticent about windows on the front elevation. It mentions repositioning six of them and omits to mention the removal of another three. Some observers may say that the change is an unwelcome interference with the historic structure, others that it actually improves the appearance of the frontage. Spurtle has mixed feelings, but reckons that this is a reasonable compromise in an effort to bring new life and purpose to an otherwise difficult property.

Spurtle is not particularly wedded to the existing shopfront on Eyre Place, and we don’t like or dislike its proposed replacement. We do, however, pity whoever ends up working there. Perhaps they could be offered some pond-weed, decorative stones and a little castle to swim in and out of.

We won’t miss the current Canon Street extension one jot. The proposed replacement is acceptable and, by stepping back, offers a view of the mill building for anyone walking uphill from the north.

Spurtle enjoys the current, eccentric arrangement of wildlife cut-outs on the roof corners, but their removal would not break our hearts. We find the proposed zinc dormers incongruous but acceptable in principle. They are, however, too large and remind us of Teletubby ears. Suitably reduced, they might do something to relieve today’s uninterrupted orange monotony.

We were bemused by the colour scheme used in the artist’s visualisations last time around, and we are bemused this time as well. What is in reality a rather honey-complexioned building with a shock of red hair is instead portrayed in a series of dull, wintry greys. Perhaps the intention is to bore us into indifference.

No KO but OK

All in all, we find this an acceptable second draft which, with tweaks to the dormers and further attention paid to the Canon Street intersection of mill and extension, could be a welcome addition to the neighbourhood. For the most part, it is unashamedly of its time, but appropriately respectful.

Whether it does enough to address the potential concerns raised in our article earlier this year (Breaking news, 23.01.18) is debateable. Interestingly, the AOC Archaeology Report which accompanied January’s application, and usefully made clear a number of potential hitches, does not accompany the latest application online. We therefore include a link for your convenience HERE (see, in particular, Sections 2.3–2.5, 6.1–6.2).

Readers wishing to support or object to the latest proposal may do so ONLINE by 18 October.

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1-3 Canon Street