Five-storey flats will ruin our prom, warn Porty protesters

A VISION of five-storey tenement flats on Portobello promenade has sparked an angry response from the community.

Fun park owner Lothian Amusements unveiled an updated design brief this month, outlining controversial plans to turn the site into a residential development.

Now residents have formed a pressure group to fight the project, which they say would overshadow the beach and block the historic pottery kilns.

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The Fun Park Action Group (FPAG) has sent letters to everybody in the area, urging them to object to the city council.

But Lothian Amusements says tall buildings would give a better sense of place and character than the current "desolate" and "exposed" seafront.

The firm says Portobello should aspire to beach-fronts surrounded by tall buildings, such as Brighton, Aberystwyth, Porthcawl and Tobermory.

The outline planning application is set for council approval, but the site owner would need to make a full application before moving ahead with the development.

It is not known how many flats would be built on the land, though it is thought to be around 80.

Community leaders have also attacked the proposals, saying they are not in line with the council's attempt to create a masterplan for the area.

In its letter to residents, FPAG says: "This is the largest single development we have seen along the prom and has major implications for the surrounding neighbourhood and road network.

"The height [of the flats on the promenade] has been reduced to five storeys but would still result in massive overshadowing of the promenade, the beach and adjacent buildings.

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"The proposal is much higher than the kilns and does not respect the neighbouring two-storey housing along Bridge Street and the promenade. The density of the proposed development also results in a monolithic structure, five times the length of any existing building along the prom."

The letter is signed by FPAG members Caroline Hosking, Ian Campbell and Margaret O'Neill.

It has also won support from other local groups. Nick Stroud, secretary of Portobello Community Council, said: "People welcome development but are worried about some aspects, especially the change in height."

Linlithgow-based consultants Cadell2 were appointed by the city council this month to create a masterplan for the promenade.

John Stewart, chairman of the Portobello Amenity Society, is concerned that Lothian Amusements' application could go through before the masterplan is completed.

He said: "This application should not be separated from the masterplan.

"The Amenity Society and the community council want a holistic view of the whole area and this threatens that."

In the planning brief, Lothian Amusements said that a series four and five-storey buildings would improve the appearance of the beach area and promenade.

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It said Portobello should learn from other proms that "create a sense of place and character".

"Where there are no buildings or the buildings are very low, the promenade and beach feel desolate," it adds.

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