Developers may appeal Leith Walk rejection with Scottish Government

The developers behind controversial plans for a £50 million scheme on Leith Walk have vowed to continue its commitment to transforming the site, despite proposals being rejected by councillors.

Revised proposals by Drum Property Group for a £50 million development on Leith Walk have been rejected by councillors
Revised proposals by Drum Property Group for a £50 million development on Leith Walk have been rejected by councillors

Members of the development management sub-committee voted unanimously to refuse permission to demolish the current structure at 106-162 Leith Walk to build a 56-bedroom hotel, accommodation for 471 post-graduate students and 53 affordable housing flats – as well as cafe and retail units.

Yesterday’s Edinburgh City Council meeting, which lasted more than four and a half hours, included contributions from ward councillors, community councillors, the developers and campaigners from Save Leith Walk.

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Members refused the application, stating the proposals failed to meet more than half a dozen planning policies – and were unconvinced that developers have done enough to try and retain the sandstone building.

Save Leith Walk demonstrators appeared outside Edinburgh City Chambers yesterday. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Concerns were also raised about the mix of housing and student accommodation – while campaigners raised fears about “aggressive lease management” tactics with existing tenants.

Graeme Bone, group managing director of Drum, says he is “naturally disappointed” and suggested the firm may now lodge an appeal with the Scottish Government to overturn the decision.

He added: “We are naturally disappointed, but not surprised, that councillors chose to ignore the recommendation of their officers to approve our transformational planning proposal for Stead’s Place.

“Since purchasing the site, we have worked hard to respond to the council’s brief to bring new investment and development to this neglected part of Leith Walk.

An artist's impression of Save Leith Walks alternative vision for the block.

We submitted a proposal which was both high-quality and innovative, shaped by extensive consultation with local people, groups and businesses.

“In the eyes of the council’s own planning department, our plans are entirely suitable for the Stead’s Place site. They fit with the local Development Plan and bring significant regeneration benefits to Leith Walk and the wider Pilrig area.

“We also secured high levels of public approval, with 2073 letters of support received - making it one of Edinburgh’s most supported major planning applications.

“Despite all this, councillors have obviously felt under pressure in the face of vocal opposition and have chosen to reject this opportunity to deliver major investment to Leith.

“We remain wholly committed to developing the site, and view today’s decision as another step in what could be a long process.

“This will include the possibility of lodging an appeal with the Scottish Government. It’s a shame that Leith will be deprived of much needed new homes, facilities and improved amenity whilst that process is ongoing.”

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