Many of us may still be feeling the impact of the banking crash and the recession that followed, but a flurry of activity on local brownfield sites suggests that property developers are suddenly feeling more positive about the future.
All over Leith, sites which have seemingly been mothballed for years have suddenly seen some kind of action. It looks as though thousands off new homes are set to start moving off the drawing board and into reality over the coming months.
As the photo above shows, the diggers have started preparing the ground at the former Eastern General site at Seafield. There are 155 new homes proposed for this site, or which 70 will be for social rent, and 70 for “mid-market rent.”
At Shrubhill, both the adjacent Shrub Place site and the site at Shrubhill House have been sold to new owners in recent weeks.
Although Retties, the sales agent for both sites, wouldn’t confirm it, they also didn’t deny the rumour that the Shrub Place site is likely to be developed by one or more housing associations.
Despite an earlier plan hatched by the council with local housing associations to build around 340 homes for mid-market rent on the site falling through, we’d not be surprised if a similar plan with a marginally different financing model, involving the same organisations and possibly Retties themselves, is announced in the coming weeks.
Retties are no stranger to these sorts of deals. As we previously reported, the firm is already a partner in an existing deal with Forth Ports and the City of Edinburgh Council to develop a site at Western Harbour for more “mid-market rent” flats.
Meanwhile, demolition work has already begun on next door Shrubhill house, where new owners Ziggurat Student Living say they will have completed a new development on the site comprising 260 student bedrooms and five commercial units in time for the new 2015 academic intake.
Whilst many are happy to see the derelict shell of “The Big Society Headquarters” come down, disquiet has also been expressed at the uninspiring design of the new building that is set to replace it.
Student flats are a bit of thing in the Leith walk ward, although arguably they’re not yet as contentious in Leith as they have become in other parts of the city. As well as the 260 student flats under construction at Shrubhill Place, Ziggurat are also building around 276 student bedrooms at nearby Murano Place.
Further up Leith Walk at Haddington Place another proposal for a development incorporating around 200 student bedrooms is in the process of gaining planning approval. And of course this development will be just over the road from the 155 student flats on the old Gateway Theatre site.
Another long standing derelict site on the edge of Pilrig Park, at 18 Tenant Street, is also the subject of a planning application for 49 homes. The proposals have attracted objections from Leith Central Community Council and the Friends of Pilrig Park. You can read their comments in the latest set of draft minutes from LCCC.
And lastly, the Evening News revealed this week that Cala Homes, who have a history of building where others couldn’t in Leith, are to set to take over where Baratts failed at another long standing brownfield site in the area – the former Royal Mail sorting office site at Brunswick Place.
Early indications suggest Cala are going to go for a plan that involves 180 homes on the site, down from the 241 flats proposed by Barratts. According the Evening News, Cala will reveal more details of the intial plans for the site at public consultation events at two public exhibitions.
The first will be held at McDonald Road Library on Tuesday from 4.30pm to 7.30pm, and the second event will take place on August 23 from 11am to 2pm.
Have you seen any other signs of building work in Leith recently? Get in touch to let us know.