Edinburgh Council’s refusal of planning permission to convert 37a and 39 London Street into short-term lets has been upheld.
On 1 December, a reporter appointed by Scottish Ministers dismissed the owner’s appeal against the decision, and also endorsed the Council’s refusal of a change of use for this purpose.
Key to the dismissal was an internal staircase linking the ground floor to the back green via the basement and sub-basement. Building Standards might insist that this staircase be kept open as a fire escape, and – in the event of conversion to STLs – there would be no staff present to ensure the route was not used for non-emergency purposes. ‘I find that the evidence submitted does not allow me to safely conclude that access to the rear garden would not be attempted/achieved.’
The Reporter found that guests using the back-green would detrimentally alter its peaceful and residential character, and the quiet amenity of neighbours, contrary to policy Hou 7 (inappropriate uses in residential areas) of the local development plan and the non-statutory guidance for businesses. Again, a lack of staff at the site would mean a lack of effective controls on guests’ behaviour.
Economic benefits deriving from the change of use would not outweigh negative impacts on local residents’ reasonable expectations of peace and quiet.
In an interesting aside, the Reporter also found no evidence to suggest that the existence of an adjacent sauna (described by locals as a ‘good neighbour’) would deter potential permanent residents here, or some other kind of new business venture.
In most locals' opinion, these empty and more or less derelict properties would benefit from some long overdue TLC and imagination.
The failure to convert the properties into short-term lets is a welcome development, and has implications for other STL ventures with access to residential back-greens.
Spurtle salutes the Development Management Subcommittee which, contrary to some expectations (including Spurtle’s), went against the initial recommendations of planning officials.