Submitted by Editor on Fri, 20/12/2019 - 10:59

The Scottish Government Reporter today rejected Drum’s appeal against Edinburgh Council’s refusal of planning consent for demolition/redevelopment of the site on and around Stead’s Place (Ref. PPA-230-2274; Breaking news, 30.1.19). 

The Reporter’s reasoning is elaborated in 82 points across 16 densely worded pages. You can enjoy them all at leisure in the pdf attached below. 

In conclusion, though, the Reporter found the proposed development ‘neither innovative nor locally distinctive’. The proposed height and scale would be ‘overbearing and incongruous’ here, and the planned structures would not preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area or the setting of a nearby listed building.

The Reporter acknowledged that the proposal would bring some economic benefits, would contain some positive design features, and would meet the Council’s terms for student and affordable housing.

But these benefits would not outweigh the proposal’s harm to the area’s character.

In summary, the Reporter concluded that, ‘the proposed development does not accord overall with the development plan and there are no material considerations which would justify granting planning permission. It does not meet the statutory tests of the 1997 Act. I have considered all the other matters raised, but there are none which would lead me to alter my conclusions. Consequently, planning permission should be refused.’

This is a stunning victory for the Save Leith Walk campaign, and one which will likely have serious implications for how future developers of sites in historic Edinburgh locations think about genuinely and effectively addressing residents’ concerns.

In a delighted message this morning on Facebook, campaigners posted: ‘Today’s decision shows what can be done when a community organises and unites behind a common message.

‘It shows the developer’s plans for Stead’s Place were completely out of step with community needs for housing, local businesses and retaining our heritage.’

Ben Macpherson MSP – one of many local politicians to back the Campaign – welcomed the decision, and looked forward to more appropriate development proposals in future: ‘It’s very disappointing that Drum evicted several good businesses over the last year.

‘However, now we can look forward to what’s next for Stead’s Place and I urge Drum to respond to the community’s aspirations in that process and support the Leith Depot’s future on the site.

‘I’ll be doing all I can to positively influence decisions toward affordable housing and affordable business space, while preserving the current building.’

And there’s the problem. What was a thriving hub of local entrepreneurialism and diversity is now boarded-up, largely desolate, and serving nobody’s best interests. How can it swiftly be brought back to life?

[Image top-right courtesy of Save Leith Walk campaign.]