Local Councillor Hits Out at Plans for New Student Development in West Edinburgh

A local councillor is “sick to the back teeth” of student accommodation developers targeting the Sighthill/Gorgie ward as two new developments are set to go ahead in the area.

GRAHAM has secured two major student accommodation projects in Edinburgh with a combined value of almost £35m on behalf of Watkin Jones, the UK’s leading developer and manager of residential-for-rent.

The £20.4m Westfield Road project near Murrayfield Stadium will provide almost 400 beds over seven storeys, whilst the nearby £14.4m Gorgie Road development will deliver 249 beds. Both are due for completion in mid-2022.

GRAHAM is a privately-owned company that specialises in the delivery of award-winning construction, civil engineering, interior fit-out, facilities management and investment projects.

Gary Holmes, Regional Managing Director of GRAHAM said: “These projects further bolster our strong position in the student accommodation and build-to-rent sectors. The facilities we are constructing for Watkins Jones will provide high quality student accommodation, incorporating the full range of lifestyle and amenity facilities which today’s students expect.”

But councillor Ashley Graczyk, an independent member for the Sighthill/Gorgie ward and independent MSP candidate for the Lothian Region, has hit out at the plans.

She said: “I am sick to the back teeth of PBSA developers targeting Gorgie Dalry in Sighthill/Gorgie ward when we desperately need more affordable housing.

“Student housing is a difficult subject. The unfortunate reality is students living in private purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) often face extortionate bills of £700-800.

“Another unfortunate reality is that these private PBSA developers are not interested in providing the housing our capital City really needs because they are driven by profit margins, not public service; and so, they want to push to build PBSA ad infinitum – even when they know everyone else in the community with housing needs are being excluded, including students who are married and/or have children.

“I am currently preparing a campaign against private PBSA because I am concerned that these developments are being prioritised over sustainable, genuinely affordable accommodation, which could be open to both students and non-students.

“Much more needs to be done in policy change to encourage developers to put forward planning proposals that will prioritise the needs of local people and communities rather than maximising profits.”

Published in Edinburgh News | 26th March 2021