Party flats in the heart of Edinburgh have been shut down by the city council after neighbours spoke out about noise, bottles and underwear thrown from windows and being worried about fire safety.
Cornerstone Apartments have been operating six residential flats at Baxter’s Terrace for 18 months without permission.
Despite the retrospective application being recommended for approval by council officers, the development management sub-committee unanimously threw out the plans yesterday – meaning an ongoing enforcement investigation will continue.
After planning officers said the arrangement “does not have an adverse impact on amenity to neighbouring properties”, the committee heard from residents who spoke out about the problems endured.
Marcello Mega, who lives between the party flats, said: “None of them is more than a two-bedroom or has more than a single toilet. At a weekend, we have potentially 61 noisy neighbours. To suggest that that has no impact just seems ludicrous.
“It can be doors banging and slamming to and fro, we can smell smoke coming up between the floorboards and we do have a genuine fear about it being a fire hazard.
“In some cases the beds are only inches apart. It really doesn’t take much of a leap of the imagination to picture a scenario where drunk people are coming home in the middle of the night, falling into things, in flats filled with soft furnishings, to see how a dropped cigarette could cause mayhem. It’s not much fun living above and next to that.”
Another neighbour told councillors about cigarette butts, smashed bottles and men’s underwear thrown from the flat windows. Several calls were made to the police over noise and a flood of sewage emerged due to a build-up of wet wipes.
Michael Hyde, speaking on behalf of Cornerstone Apartments, said the properties were “in breach of planning control but not an illegal use”.
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But planning convener Cllr Neil Gardiner said: “Edinburgh city centre is a place to live and our policies are geared towards that. Maybe in recent years, the residential community has felt somewhat under siege. We should be seeking to protect and enhance the residential communities in the city centre.”
Cllr Joanna Mowat said it would be “perverse” for the committee to approve the application.
She added: “If we don’t protect this and refuse this application, we threaten further residential uses and that is something we are very clear we don’t want to do in the city.”