Comment: Community views are still listened to

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The victory of the community campaigners who have saved their local shop and cafe from demolition won’t just be cheered in Canonmills.

Right across Edinburgh and the Lothians people will be drawing quiet satisfaction from seeing such a valued local facility protected in this way. At a time of growing cynicism about how much attention is genuinely paid to local opinion, this decision has been a valuable indication that community views are being listened to.

It was hard to see how razing the Earthy shop and cafe sitting alongside the Water of Leith would have benefited the local community in any way.

It would have wiped out a valued local business and replaced it with what can only be described as an ugly and overbearing block of flats.

There is of course pressure on the city to build new homes to meet the dire shortage of affordable homes. But in this case it was clear that the damage caused to the neighbourhood would have far outweighed the benefit from building a handful of new flats.

Communities are of course more than a collection of houses. They are built around good local shops, places where neighbours can gather together and respect for the local environment.The writing was on the wall when the protesters turned up at the City Chambers yesterday. Permission had already been granted for the new block of flats earmarked to replace the existing buildings and city officials had given the demolition their blessing.

Congratulations are in order for the community campaigners who worked so hard to save this local landmark. There is no doubt that it was their imaginative and determined protests that saved the day.

Credit, finally, is also due to our city councillors. They have earned plenty of brickbats in recent years, but in recent months the councillors sitting on the planning committee have proved beyond doubt their independence of mind.

That is what local democracy is all about, electing fair minded people to take sometimes tough decisions on behalf of the city.

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