Residents fired up by Portobello kiln project

ANOTHER Portobello protest is brewing – this time against plans to redevelop the site of the town's run-down amusements and incorporate two historic kilns.

A group of more than 200 residents have attacked the proposals, saying the planned development of 73 homes would dominate the seafront.

The project on the town's promenade would see the existing building demolished to make way for flats with underground parking, along with a replacement amusement arcade and caf. Two B-listed pottery kilns, dating back to 1906 and said to be the last visual remnants of the pottery industry in Scotland, would also be included into the site.

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But the Portobello Masterplan Action Group (PMAG), which helped shape council plans for the area, is urging local residents to object to the plans for the fun park at Pipe Lane.

PMAG spokeswoman Caroline Hosking, who is also secretary of Portobello Community Council, said: "We have great concerns about the planning application and urge local residents and all who value Portobello's Promenade and kilns, to write with their objections to the council's planning department. People are very committed to making sure Portobello is a nice place to live.

"Portobello is Edinburgh's seaside, and the shadows that these two huge buildings will cast on the Promenade will make it a cold dark windy area, overlooked by private housing, rather than an improved Promenade with more leisure opportunities for all."

Ms Hosking said that while residents would welcome the site being developed, the proposed four to five-storey buildings were not in keeping with the area. PMAG highlights issues of height, additional traffic, and a lack of parking.

Lillian Graham, of neighbouring Bridge Street, said: "This construction will dominate everything. A glimpse of the sea from the top of Bridge Street will be gone. The kilns will be dwarfed, not to mention our homes."

She said on-street parking on the narrow streets next to the Promenade would be a "nightmare", particularly if the development's underground car park flooded.

Mrs Graham added: "This is a well used route by children going to Towerbank school and I worry about the extra traffic."

The city council's transport department has also raised concerns over the proposed underground car park layout and visitor parking absence and has requested a study into traffic impact and further details on cycle parking.

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Alastair Hackland, director of Hackland and Dore Architects, which has drawn up the plans, said: "We have been working with local groups and the council on these designs and we are very hopeful that they will be given approval in due course.

"The height of some of the buildings was slightly reduced as a result of consultation with the local community and we are keen to create public spaces on the Promenade for people to enjoy."

If the project is given the go-ahead later this year it is hoped to begin work in the summer of 2010, with the project likely to be completed around 2011.


THE RESIDENTS of Portobello have a long history of banding together to protect the area from developers.

Before PMAG's protest, the Fun Park Action Group sent letters to everybody in the area urging them to object to a previous application for a five-storey building on the site.

Portobello Campaign Against The Superstore (PCATS) successfully fought plans for a supermarket to be built at the old ScottishPower HQ on Portobello High Street.

To fight a waste depot plan, Portobello Against the Dump was set up and later became Portobello Opposes New Garbage Station (Pongs). The proposals were thrown out but waste recycling firm Viridor has taken an appeal to the Scottish Parliament. Pongs has said it will fight on.

The John Street Action Group fought plans to turn a former nursing home into a homeless refuge, and in 1979 the Portobello Amenity Society was formed to fight unwelcome or inappropriate developments.

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Portobello Energy Descent and Land Reform Group (PEDAL) aims to tackle climate change through local initiatives, while opposing campaigners Portobello Park Action Group and Portobello For a New School have clashed over plans to build a new high school on green space.