Summix (CGE) Developments and S Harrison Developments have been granted permission for the partial demolition of existing buildings and the construction of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) on a site that was once part of the 19th century gasworks at 179A Canongate.
The planning application was initially refused by City of Edinburgh Council in August 2022.
Comprising 76 studio rooms, the scheme will be targeted at postgraduate students. Elements of the existing historic buildings are incorporated within the proposed redevelopment along with the demolition of more recent 20th century buildings.
“The retained buildings are incorporated within a sympathetic design that respects the site’s historic location and the important surrounding listed buildings,” the developers said.
New build elements consist of a five-storey building with a triple pitched roof on the west side dropping down to a two-storey building with duo pitch roof on the east side to fit with the nearby kirkyard. Historic perimeter walls will be retained.
Edinburgh council planning officers said: “This is a poorly conceived design proposal, which fails to respond to the prevailing urban character and historic grain of this part of the Old Town. It has not been demonstrated that the proposal would create or contribute towards a sense of place, with an overall design concept that draws upon the characteristics of the surrounding area.
“The proposal would represent a poor quality and inappropriate infill design, which would be damaging to the character and appearance of the Old Town Conservation Area and the outstanding universal value of the Edinburgh World Heritage Site.”
They said that “demolition of the existing structures will undermine the unique qualities of this historic environment”.
However, the ‘reporter’ appointed by Scottish government minister to review the appeal, said: “The proposed development utilises a brownfield site making efficient use of existing land and buildings. It supports the delivery of accessible accommodation and is appropriately located in walking distance to education facilities, local amenities, and public transport. The scale, form and design respects the historic environment and mitigation measures are incorporated to safeguard the amenity of existing and future occupiers.”
S Harrison director David Clancy said: “These proposals will redevelop an unloved site in the heart of the capital and provide much-needed PBSA in a highly sustainable location, situated so close to many university buildings. We are pleased to see that the reporter noted that the proposed PBSA does not result in an ‘excessive concentration’ of student accommodation in the area and will fit in with the nearby listed buildings, preserving the character and appearance of the Old Town Conservation Area.
“Our proposals are part of the wider redevelopment of this part of the city centre and will help to bring life and economic activity to the area.”
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