PLANS for a purpose-built student accommodation development in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town have been approved, following a successful appeal by developers.

Summix (CGE) Developments and S Harrison have been granted permission for the partial demolition of existing buildings and the delivery of PBSA on a site that was once part of the 19th century gasworks at 179A Canongate. The planning application was initially refused by City of Edinburgh Council but has now received the green light following an appeal to the Scottish Government Reporter.

Developers are planning to incorporate elements of existing historic buildings and demolish more recent, 20th century structures as part of the project, which will involve the construction of a five-storey building.

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The new building will comprise 76 studio rooms targeted at postgraduate students, with a ground floors including an open courtyard with sitting areas and planters, internal shared amenity space, two study rooms, a gym, and a multimedia room.

The design will be “sympathetic” to the site’s historic location and surrounding listed buildings, the developers say.

David Clancy of S Harrison, a York-based property development company, said: “We’re thrilled our application has been approved by the Scottish Government Reporter. These proposals will redevelop an unloved site in the heart of the capital and provide much-needed PBSA in a highly sustainable location, situated so close to many university buildings.

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“We are pleased to see that the Reporter noted that the proposed PBSA does not result in an ‘excessive concentration’ of student accommodation in the area and will fit in with the nearby listed buildings, preserving the character and appearance of the Old Town Conservation Area. 

“Our proposals are part of the wider redevelopment of this part of the city centre and will help to bring life and economic activity to the area.”

Stuart Black of Summix (CGE) Developments added: “With the Reporter upholding the appeal, the delivery of high-quality student accommodation on what is a brownfield site, can be progressed.

“This will be a highly energy efficient building, incorporating low and zero carbon emitting equipment, including air source heat pumps, full LED lighting, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery and photovoltaic panels.

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“It will also serve to address an increasing demand for student accommodation, and through this assist in moving students out of homes more appropriate for families and into well-managed accommodation.”

The Canongate project will build on the presence S Harrison has been developing Edinburgh in recent years. In 2019, delivered a £25 million scheme to provide a boutique hotel for Malmaison in the New Town. Earlier this year it secured planning permission for a PBSA scheme of 64 studio apartments on East Newington Place and has planning permission for a new hotel on Osborne Terrace.