Edinburgh Councillors Clash Over Controversial Student Flats Proposed for Old Tynecastle High

An SNP councillor has clashed with an independent city councillor over plans to build new student accommodation development at the former Tynecastle High site.

The proposal, from developers Tynecastle Teague, is to build accommodation to house 545 students on the site of the former school on McLeod Street. The development would also feature community space and a landscaped courtyard.

Independent councillor Ashley Graczyk, who represents the Sighthill/Gorgie ward, had given her support to a Living Rent campaign that is opposing the proposals.

She said the plans fail to follow council’s own guidelines that student developments on sites of over 0.25 hectares should include a minimum of 50 per cent residential floorspace.

Ms Graczyk said: “This proposal is completely inappropriate and ignores Edinburgh Council’s planning policy on the provision of residential accommodation on very large development sites.

“I am surprised to see a developer submitting a proposal in such flagrant breach of local priorities to create affordable housing.”

But SNP councillor Denis Dixon, who also represents the Sighthill/Gorgie ward, disagreed and said the proposal would help save a listed building.

He said: “From my perspective the proposal to save the listed building and to develop the remainder of the site to be used as student accommodation is a fair option.”

Developers behind the proposals, S1 Developments said their plans will secure the redevelopment and use of the historic building.

Director at S1 Developments Dan Teague said: “The development will not only secure the redevelopment and provide a boost to the local economy, but also allows us to develop the site in manner which is compatible with neighbouring uses.

“Council guidance points to the benefits of purpose-built student accommodation in freeing up traditional housing stock for families with children and it has been estimated that a development such as this could release up to 180 properties back into the housing market. Local businesses will also benefit through increased spending from student residents.

“Just under two-thirds (c.35,000) of students are not able to access either university managed or private purpose-built accommodation and with a student population rising at three per cent a year this is clearly putting pressure on traditional housing stock as these young people have to be housed somewhere.”

Published in Edinburgh News | 2nd October 2021