Submitted by Editor on Thu, 11/03/2021 - 10:33

A determination is expected by 15 April on MMMARS Dundas Limited’s plans to demolish and redevelop two properties at 108–14 and 116 Dundas St to form 44 flats and 3 commercial units (20/05645/FUL; 20/05646/CON).

Of 52 comments submitted to the Council by the closing date, 50 were objections and 1 in favour. Below we give a very brief summary of those Spurtle has seen.

Community Council

The New Town & Broughton Community Council would prefer sustainable reuse of the existing buildings.

It criticised the developers’ failure to take account of locals’ serious concerns expressed at the pre-application stage in November, and doubted whether they had left themselves enough time to make any meaningful amendments before submitting an application.

NTBCC found multiple flaws in MMMARS Dundas’s reasons for advancing the building line, which seem to contradict previous planning policies and decisions in this neighbourhood at the gateway to the New Town.

It called for the retention of trees, which form an important part of placemaking here.

NTBCC also drew attention to loss of daylight for householders at 120 Dundas Street, and detrimental impacts on their privacy and outlook.

Addressing proposed building height and massing, it said ‘the visualisations accompanying the application, in our view, show a large, oppressive and over-bearing building which seems incongruous with the surrounding buildings both within the WHS and outwith.

‘In combination with the increased height, the effect is to make this modern and uninteresting building more prominent that the buildings on Dundas St and Fettes Row.’

NTBCC was not entirely critical of the plans, and did not, for example, object to the proposed reduction of commercial property and increase in residential units. However, it hopes for a scheme that more appropriately responds to important constraints on this sensitive site.


Edinburgh World Heritage

Edinburgh World Heritage identified unacceptable negative effects of the proposal on the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site.

It said these could be mitigated by reducing the height of the building by one floor and changing the design of the roof. It called for more contextual and architectural depth as seen in surrounding historical buildings, including embellishment and reduced height of the secondary-street Fettes Row elevation.

Cockburn Association

The Cockburn Association was brief and to the point. In an assessment you can find here it accepted the principle or residential development, but found the plans to be rather dated and of ‘limited quality and interest’. They are ‘bland’ and ‘mundane’ and do not respond to neighbouring Georgian buildings.

Like NTBCC, it criticised insufficient effort to reuse or repurpose the existing structures. It could see no reason not to retain Centrum and BUPA Houses while amending floor-to-ceiling heights within.

The Cockburn backed keeping the current setback from Dundas Street, and retaining the trees. It found the proposed mix of housing types unclear.

‘In summary, the Cockburn sees little merit in the current proposals, and recommends refusal if significant amendments are not forthcoming.’


Effective responses

An opinion piece in yesterdays Scotsman described the Cockburn Association as among Edinburgh’s ‘most feared and formidable forces’.

That was tosh, of course – an inflammatory if comically clumsy swipe which would have been just as wide of the mark aimed at any other body in the capital seeking reasonable limits to building development, festivalisation, tourism, and encroachments on public space.

Now, Edinburgh citizens aren’t stupid or homogeneous. They don’t always agree with each other or the bodies through which their more or less conservative/innovative opinions are channelled.

But on this occasion, the mood is clear. Insofar as the plans for Centrum and BUPA Houses are concerned, all the residents Spurtle has heard are united in disliking the MMMARS Dundas plans.

What's more, they count themselves lucky to have such principled, knowledgable, and well-organised forces for public amenity on their side.