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Dalton campaign launches community open letter

Scrap student accommodation, we need affordable homes!

Dear Councillors,

As you consider application 23/06745/FUL for a proposed mixed use development on Salamander Street, Leith, we call on you not to ignore the voices of the local people you represent. We write this open letter in the spirit of optimism for the future of our neighbourhood. We share a common vision with the developers for the regeneration of this site. However, we recognise this development not as an opportunity to maximise private profit, but as a sorely-needed chance to meet the material needs of the community.

According to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, the site of the development falls within the top 10% of the most housing deprived areas in Scotland. There is a citywide housing crisis affecting every demographic in Leith and a social housing waiting list in Edinburgh of over 23,000. You, our elected representatives, must not let developers’ profit margins continue to dictate the landscape of our neighbourhoods and deepen the housing crisis we are all experiencing. It is clear from the plans set out in the application 23/06745/FUL that the interests of the community do not align with those of the developer. Let us take this opportunity to remind you that your responsibility is to your constituents.

The planning application states that the inclusion of social housing on the site would undermine their vision for a fully managed build to rent block. The planning application also states that “split tenure buildings are generally not a preference of investors”. This single comment throws into sharp relief the reality of the decision to exclude social rent units from this development. This is not an acceptable reason to cast aside the tenure that is a lifeline for so many in this city - a lifeline that 23,000 people are currently desperate for. The plans show that a mere 25% of the residential properties will be affordable in accordance with the lowest applicable precedent. As we all know, definitions of affordability in housing are not fit for purpose. They are based on nebulous and ever-increasing ‘market rates’ of rent. Any provision of ‘affordable’ housing based on these definitions is no guarantee of genuine accessibility to the people of Leith.

Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), like build to rent, is inherently exploitative. It is has been a long standing practice for first year students to stay in ‘halls’ to make friends, facilitate their studies and make the home-uni transition easier. But these PBSA blocks are becoming ever more luxurious and therefore expensive. Such plans will not contribute to community integration nor security for those currently in need. Our students have the same need for quality, affordable, secure housing as everyone else. We say that Leith deserves better - students and residents alike. We welcome further discussion with developers and housing associations for a resubmission that includes real social and affordable housing. But the application cannot pass as it currently stands. 

Leith has always been an area of unique character, marked by resilience and community cohesion. We, the community - tenants, parents, local business owners, community groups and leaders - believe the people of Leith know what we need best. We, the undersigned, therefore ask that you listen to the voice of people and reject application 23/06745/FUL. 

Will you sign?

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  • rufus bouverie
    published this page in Our campaigns 2024-02-20 10:41:37 +0000