More details of plans to build student accommodation at a site on Bothwell Street, off Easter Road, have been revealed in a new planning application.
The proposal will see a series of three disused steel-framed warehouses demolished and replaced with a five storey block designed to sleep 240 students in a mixture of “cluster bedrooms and studio apartments.”
This latest plan supercedes an earlier proposal for 71 residential flats on the site, which planners were reportedly ‘minded to grant’ in 2011.
Early consultation work undertaken on behalf of the developers identified that locals said they were mainly concerned that the proposed new development could cause parking problems on the street, and also that the small pocket park on the street may be lost.
In response, the developers have pledged to upgrade the existing park, and maintain public access to it. However, the plans do show that the redeveloped park will be orientated away from the street, and toward the new flats.
Although it is described in the plans as a “student park,” the developers emphasise elsewhere that it will be a public park available for all locals to use.
In the Design and Access statement, it says: “The proposal includes the upgrade and full landscaping of the park to the north of the site. This will include new tree plantation, some hard landscaping, seating and shrubs. It is the intention to transform this space in to a pleasant well used hub within Bothwell Street.
“The retention of the park gives not only a public space for people to congregate but also maintains the visual break along the street from the lines of high tenement blocks.
“The landscape park will be fully maintained and managed by the student accommodation provider.”
With regard to the second concern cited by locals, parking, the planning application also claims that residents of the flats will be forbidden to own, or even use, a private car.
The extraordinary, possibly illegal, and certainly almost impossible to enforce, claim is contained in the Pre-Application Consultation Report, which states: “The student accommodation provider is to provide a Management Plan that prohibits the use of privately owned car by any student resident occupying the completed proposal. This item will be enforced by the student accommodation providers or site management team.”
Now, the plans do show extensive secure cycle parking on the ground floor, and there is even two electric car charging points in the visitors car park. The development is close to several major bus routes, and there is also space left for a future path connection to a proposed new cycle path that may one day run past the perimeter of the development.
The active travel credentials of the site are thus pretty good, but proposing to ban potential tenants from even using a private car does seem an extreme, and scarcely credible, measure.
There are less coercive ways to encourage people to disavow private car ownership. For example, perhaps the students could be provided with the option of City Car Club membership as part of their rent?
You can comment on the proposal, and find all the documents associated with it, by searching the council planning portal for reference 14/05255/FUL