Residents' joy as flats bid refused

Residents of the Flower Colonies off Slateford Road are celebrating after plans for a housing development on neighbouring land were thrown out.

The proposal for more than 100 new flats had been recommended for approval by officers, but councillors voted unanimously against it after it attracted more than 200 letters of objection.

Residents of the neighbouring colonies said the buildings, which would have been up to five storeys high, would be too large for the site and not in keeping with the area.

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They would have included 40 managed student flats and 63 flats for private sale.

Neighbours formed the Flower Colonies Area Residents' Association to oppose the plan, and worked together to come up with their own alternative proposals for the site, which they dubbed the "contra plan", a scheme which they thought would better blend with the existing buildings and cause less disruption to residents.

Members of the development management sub-committee were originally due to consider the application two weeks ago, but deferred their decision so they could visit the site.

They voted yesterday to reject the application and send developer AMA (New Town) Ltd back to the drawing board.

They asked for legal advice on the wording of their reasons for rejection and are expected to rubber-stamp the decision in two weeks' time.

Gur Bergkvist, of the residents' association, said: "Obviously, we're absolutely delighted with the decision. It was quite an interesting meeting for us to attend.

"There was a lot of discussion and I think for us to listen to what the councillors said was really reassuring. It seemed that the things that we've been trying to get across had obviously got across to them.

"We'll be meeting at the Caley Sample Rooms to celebrate. It's probably not over yet, but it's been a year of hard work."

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Bridget Stevens, chairwoman of Merchiston Community Council, which also opposed the plan, said: "It's wonderful, we're absolutely delighted.

"There were a lot of residents at the meeting, and a lot of whooping and cheering when it was announced.

"The main arguments were massing and cutting off daylight in the end street of the Colonies.

"It's just wonderful because they worked so hard - they worked their socks off, forming themselves into the residents group and getting the contra plan up and running."

Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart Councillor Gordon Buchan added: "I think a lot of people will be very happy with the decision. Hopefully the developer will now come back with a more acceptable proposal for the site.

"People are not against development on the site generally, just what was proposed. Five storeys looking down on the Flower Colonies is just not right. You wouldn't have that next to the Stockbridge Colonies so why have it here?"

A spokesman for AMA (New Town) declined to comment.

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