(See also draft minutes for LCCC January meeting, to be added to meeting papers page.)
McLaren Murdoch & Hamilton architects have provided the following comments and drawings about this application. Click the graphics to show full-size PDF versions:
I tabled sets of plans illustrating the original ‘minded to grant’ consent for 71 flats on the site and how we had taken that consented ‘envelope’ and accommodated 240 bedrooms within it to the high standards of purpose built student accommodation required by the specialist developer the Downing Group. They are a major player in the UK with a large student accommodation portfolio in the north of England, London and Cambridge. They are currently completing circa.400 x bed development in Glasgow, their first in Scotland, and Bothwell Street would be their first in Edinburgh.
We were asked a number of questions and responded as follows:
- What is the level of parking proposed – 18 visitor spaces only compared with the 71 spaces in the residential consent. Students would be required to sign an undertaking in their lease not to bring a car and the Downing Group do not experience any difficulty with compliance with that policy. If the flats had gone ahead a large number of them could have been HMO’s with no control over cars so the likelihood of parking in the adjacent streets would have been much more of a problem. In addition, 50% cycle spaces are provided with a link to the new cycle route on the railway line adjacent.
- Will the accommodation have any facilities for public use like a gym – No, the only public access will be through the site to the cycle route and to the triangle of public park which is being rescued from the current sad state of neglect and re-landscaped for public use and for the students. It will be maintained by the developer
- Has the park been reduced in size – The amount of ‘green space’ appears to be less than that shown on Google view, but the site is currently derelict and overgrown with weeds and self-seeded saplings..
- The development appears remote from any of the universities or colleges –The Council encourages the growth and development of the city’s universities and colleges with increasing student numbers attracted from all over the world. The Council also has a policy to support the provision of purpose built well managed and supervised student accommodation to reduce the pressure on unsupervised student HMO’s which do cause problems with neighbours in those parts of the city most popular with students usually nearest the main teaching facilities. Bothwell Street is in a postcode area well below the 30% threshold and has good transport links on Easter Road or London Road. The applicant checked the policy before initiating the application and the Downing Group checked out the demand and the location before signing up with the applicant. There is a Supporting Statement on the planning portal with more detail on compliance with the relevant policies.
- Will the accommodation still have balconies – The original ‘minded to grant’ consent had balconies to most of the flats but these are not appropriate for students and have been deleted.