Last month, our planning sub-group (and Leith Central Community Council) objected to the proposed development at 27 Arthur Street after listening and engaging with the developers, residents and impacted parties at our April 2021 public meeting. We have published the adapted letter below.
The applications are no longer accepting comments and a decision will be made by the City of Edinburgh Council’s Planning Committee in due course. You can read the plans at 21/00991/FUL (relating to the full plans) and 21/00990/CON (relating to the Pilrig conservation area).
Demolition of existing buildings and structures; erection of apartments and associated development.
27 Arthur Street Edinburgh EH6 5DA
I write on behalf of Leith Central Community Council to object to the above applications (21/00991/FUL and 21/00990/CON) at 27 Arthur Street Edinburgh EH6 5DA. Please include the salient points below in your committee report.
The proposal would set a serious and undesirable precedent of aggressive L-shaped developments which would build onto green space and affect the lives of many neighbours. This L-shaped typology would be contrary to our area’s historical and Conservation Area pattern of back gardens and perimeter blocks. It would also create security issues for future residents and neighbours.
The proposal to demolish an important cultural and community space at 27 Arthur Street in order to build 34 flats is contrary to Edinburgh Local Development Plan design principles which aim at encouraging sustainable developments that help build stronger communities. The proposal makes no provision for new studios, gallery, cultural or commercial premises, which means that the arts charity, the artists and businesses currently at 27 Arthur Street would lose their premises and livelihood. This would affect Leith’s local arts community but also the Scottish Cultural Economy which relies on such places to engage and reach out to all. In accordance with the Edinburgh Local Development Plan, such vulnerable places need to be safeguarded, especially when they meet the needs of the local community by providing essential services and job opportunities.
Leith Central Community Council received a substantial number of submissions from neighbours of the proposed development in Leith Walk, Pilrig Street and on the opposite side of Arthur Street – all of whom will be directly impacted – and we share many of their concerns. We also note the substantial number of objections lodged on the Planning Portal.
Scottish Planning Policy
The application is contrary to the Scottish Planning Policy
- The proposed demolition would fail to preserve land use and patterns of social and economic activity which are key components in the character of the historic environment.
- The proposed demolition would fail to preserve the historic environment which comprises more than just the physical remains of the past.
- The proposal would fail to preserve the social and economic factors of the Pilrig Conservation Area which contribute significantly to the cultural heritage and help define the character of the historic environment.
- The Pilrig Conservation Area and Arthur Street are not subject to economic decline so the demolition and the associated change of use on the site are not justified.
- The warehouse is still serving its original purpose and has shown exemplary resilience by adapting to the needs of the community.
- The proposal would be contrary to Conservation policies which should give a high priority to maintaining and enhancing the prosperity and vitality of historic areas.
- The proposed change of use is not based on the findings of a Townscape audit.
Historic Environment Policy for Scotland (HEPS)
The application is contrary to HEP1
The application has not demonstrated that it is not adversely affecting any part of the Pilrig historic environment or that it has been informed by an inclusive understanding of its breadth and cultural significance. ‘Cultural significance’ here means ‘aesthetic, historic, scientific or social value for past, present or future generations. Cultural significance can be embodied in a place itself, its fabric, setting, use, associations, meanings, records, related places and related objects’.
The application is contrary to LDP – Policy Del 1 Developer Contributions and Infrastructure Delivery
- The application for 34 residential units makes no mention of contributions towards the tram network, education provision, greenspace network, public realm and other pedestrian and cycle actions.
- The proposal has not demonstrated that additional on-street car parking demand that will come with 34 additional households on Arthur Street could be accommodated without adverse local impacts.
Design Principles for New Development
The application is contrary to LDP – Policy Des 1 Design Quality and Context
- The proposal would not create or contribute towards a sense of place. It would deprive current neighbouring properties of a vast amount of green and open space currently unbuilt, at the back of the existing warehouse.
The application is contrary to LDP – Policy Des 4 Development Design – Impact on Setting
- The proposal would have a negative impact on the properties affected by its proposed footprint, height and form and the spaces left between buildings especially for buildings on Arthur Street (which have lower ground flats), Leith Walk and Pilrig Glebe.
The application is contrary to LDP – Policy Des 5 Development Design – Amenity
- The proposal would fail to demonstrate that the amenity of neighbouring developments is not adversely affected by loss of daylight, sunlight, privacy and immediate outlook.
- Windows and balconies of Block A bedrooms (flats A-01-01, A-02-01, A-03-01, A-04-01) would be located on the site boundary line and directly looking into the private garden of 324 Leith Walk residents.
- The proposal would fail to demonstrate that future occupiers have acceptable levels of amenity in relation to noise, daylight, sunlight, privacy or immediate outlook. Proposed ground floor flats relying on lightwells would be of special concern.
- The proposal would fail to provide an active frontage to the communal garden as it would have no windows onto it.
- The development would fail to have designed for natural surveillance over its communal garden, therefore creating a major security risk for the community.
- The proposal would create a cul-de-sac which would not participate in the integration of new development into the wider neighbourhood.
The application is contrary to Edinburgh Planning Guidance 2020
2.10 Daylight, sunlight, privacy and outlook
Protecting daylight to existing buildings
- The provided overshadowing analysis is not supported by the methods of daylighting and sun lighting assessment set out in the Edinburgh Planning Guidance Daylighting, Sunlight and Privacy with appropriate demonstrations of both ‘before’ and ‘after’ circumstances.
- The proposal would fail to have referred to the BRE Guide, Site Layout Planning for Daylight and Sunlight – A Guide to good practice to demonstrate that adequate daylighting, sunlight can be ensured to existing buildings.
- The proposal would fail to have identified individual windows and associated rooms in existing buildings which may be affected by the loss of daylight.
- The proposal would fail to have shown relevant levels and heights of neighbouring buildings as appropriate to ensure protection of daylight to existing buildings.
Sunlight to existing gardens and spaces
- The proposal would fail to demonstrate with the methods of daylighting and sunlighting assessment set out in the Edinburgh Planning Guidance Daylighting, Sunlight and Privacy, that it is laid out so that reasonable levels of sunlight are maintained to existing gardens and spaces.
The application is contrary to LDP – Policy Des 6 Sustainable Buildings
- The proposal would fail to demonstrate that the current carbon dioxide emissions reduction target has been met, with at least half of this target met through the use of low and zero carbon generating technologies.
- The proposal has failed to provide details of the proposed “flat green roof”.
- The proposal has failed to provide specification for the array of PV panels and their anticipated energy production.
- The proposal has failed to demonstrate a maximum use of materials from local and/or sustainable sources.
The application is contrary to LDP – Policy Des 7 Layout Design
- The proposal would fail to provide a safe and secure access to the communal garden through what would be a long cul-de-sac.
- The communal garden would not be directly overlooked by the residents of the proposal.
Caring for the environment
The application is contrary to LDP – Policy Env 6 Conservation Areas – Development
- The development would not preserve or enhance the special character or appearance of the conservation area.
- The development would not be consistent with the Pilrig Conservation Area characterised by pitched roofs of listed buildings from Pilrig Street to Leith Walk, and the existing building proposed to be demolished.
The application is contrary to LDP – Policy Env 16 Species Protection
- The proposal has not demonstrated that a detailed ecological survey has been undertaken to determine whether bats or other protected species are present on site. Bats are protected by Habitats Regulations and any conversion could possibly endanger them. Planning permission will not be granted for a development that would have an adverse impact on species protected under European or UK law.
- The proposal has not demonstrated or detailed the biodiversity enhancements which should be a fundamental aspect of the design (Scottish Planning Policy para 194 – “seek benefits for biodiversity from new development where possible”).
- The proposal would be ignoring the current ecological character of the site (inc. bats habitats) in the absence of a wildlife survey.
The application is contrary to LDP – Policy Env 18 Open Space Protection
- The footprint of the proposed development would generate a considerable loss of green space to nearby residents and have a significant impact on the quality of the local environment, including future residents.
- The loss of green space would be detrimental to the wider network including its continuity and biodiversity value.
The application is contrary to the Edinburgh Design Guidance – Improving internal amenity
- The development would propose a series of single aspect dwellings but would fail to demonstrate that they meet the requirements for daylight, sunlight and privacy for each living space and provide good levels of ventilation and internal amenity space.
The application is contrary to the LDP Policy Hou 3 Private Green Space in Housing Development
- The proposal would be an over-development of the site. The small proposed communal garden would not constitute an adequate provision of green space for all the residents without a private garden.
- The proposal would not have demonstrated that the communal garden would have sufficient sunlight during the year.
- The proposed communal garden would be directly overlooked by nearby residents.
The application is contrary to the LDP Policy Hou 6
- The 34 units proposal would only include 8 affordable units which is strictly less than the minimum required 25% of the total number of units.
The application is contrary to the LDP Policy Tra 3 Private Cycle Parking
- The affordable flats in Block A would not have adequate cycle parking and storage facilities.
The application is contrary to the LDP Policy Tra 4 Design of Off-Street Car and Cycle Parking
- The proposal has failed to provide any form of car parking provision in an already very densely parked area.
- The applicant has failed to undertake a parking survey as set in the Edinburgh Design Guidance.
Concerns about the submitted information
- The Planning Report states that the site was previously used for warehousing purposes and for the dumping of vehicles and other goods. It also states that the warehouse is vacant (1.12). This is extremely inaccurate as the warehouse is currently used by an arts charity along with 24 artists studios and other businesses.
- The Heritage Statement states that the current buildings have “no architectural merit and have a deadening street presence” (p.26) while the arts charity Rhubaba recently introduced a glass frontage on Arthur Street which was funded by Creative Scotland’s Cultural Economy programme.
- Parapets levels are not indicated on drawings, while they are critical to assess the height of the proposal.
- Lift overruns heights and levels are missing while they seem to be the highest points of the proposed development.
- All levels are indicated from sea level which makes their assessment difficult for the public.
- The elevations do not represent the existing context with all relevant levels therefore making it extremely difficult to assess in comparison.
- The sections are incomplete as they do not represent buildings across the street on Arthur Street (with their lower ground flats) or the adjacent buildings and associated gardens on Arthur street or directly adjacent buildings at Pilrig Glebe.
- Relevant levels of existing buildings which might be affected on Leith Walk are missing.
- The Heritage statement picture cover and many of the photos inside the document do not portray the site in a balanced and unbiased manner. They seem to disproportionately overemphasise the mess at the back of the site and underreport other positive aspects of the site.
- No Police report has been provided while the proposal has a long cul-de-sac and garden not directly overlooked by any of the future residents.
- The contextual views in the Design Statement (p48-49) show no materials.
- The contextual views in the Design Statement (p48-49) show no windows from the neighbouring buildings which does not permit a fair comparison.
Based on the above arguments and reasons, Leith Central Community Council objects to both applications and we urge the City of Edinburgh Council to refuse both for non-compliance with the Local Development Plan. In particular, permission to demolish (21/00990/CON) should not be granted prematurely.
Thanking you in anticipation.
Leith Central Community Council