Submitted by Editor on Fri, 09/10/2020 - 09:44


Some residents on the south side of Eyre Place are concerned that their bedrooms at the back will be overlooked from adjacent flats forming part of the proposed New Town Quarter between Dundas Street and King George V Park.

One local was quoted in the Edinburgh Evening News on Tuesday, calling for the developers to switch residential and office uses (marked 1 and 5 in the plan) for this part of the scheme.

Ediston’s Development Director Ross McNulty responded in the paper by saying that the proposals complied with design guidance and, because they are lower, would improve daylighting and visible skyline for existing residents.

Yesterday he went further, issuing an open letter to local interest groups and elected members.

Developers’ approach

McNulty defends the developers’ record on consultation, saying ‘The team has deliberately gone above and beyond what would normally be required of a developer in our endeavours to be open and inclusive to all local groups and residents.’

He says that he has personally met Eyre Place residents on five separate occasions, and will continue to correspond with them by email.

Whilst acknowledging that not everyone will like every aspect of the new plans, he stresses that the developers have at all times sought to be fair.


Rooms with a view

On the specific issue of overlooking, McNulty writes, ‘Although not stated in Council guidance, it is good practice, in the interests of ensuring privacy, to ideally provide a minimum distance of 18m between the windows of habitable rooms in existing and proposed dwellings. 

‘This has been adhered to and indeed marginally exceeded in the new courtyard, as it is 18.6m.’

For those readers who have difficulty visualising such things, that’s more than twice as long as a Routemaster bus, or three times as tall as an adult giraffe.

That may sound sufficient, but is not enough to please those locals accustomed to facing a blank wall, or viewing neighbours at a distance of around 23m.

City-centre challenge

‘We recognise this is a common issue on city-centre sites, and the New Town Quarter proposals are not the first to face this challenge,’ says McNulty. 

‘Indeed, the Council’s guidelines advise that “In assessing this, the Council will look at each case individually and assess the practicalities of achieving privacy against the need for development.”

‘Looking locally there are many examples of buildings overlooking each other with distances less than we are proposing.’

This is not an easy problem to resolve, and Spurtle can see sense on both sides of the argument. From past experience, however, this correspondent can vouch for a kind of mutually agreed blindness that develops between proximate neighbours, an unspoken agreement to favour tact over intrusive curiosity.