A major new development is proposed for the gap-site next to the category B listed McDonald Road Library at 34B Haddington Place (Ref. 14/02115/PAN). This proposal will be discussed at the next NTBCC (New Town and Broughton Community Council) meeting on June 9th. There will also be a public exhibition at McDonald Road Library from 2.00–8.00pm on Tuesday 24th June, and a discussion is also planned with the Friends of Hopetoun Crescent Gardens & Leith Central Community Council in the coming weeks.
NTBCC has met with the developers, architects & local agent to better understand their outline plans under the Pre-application Notification (PAN) process. The proposal by the developer (S. Harrison Developments Ltd) is for student accommodation (approx. 200 units) with mixed retail and/or café and restaurant uses at street level fronting Haddington Place. In addition, a standalone gym is also being considered.
As a statutory consultee, we will be commenting on the proposal but, as always, would be interested in your views – please contact us.
Our initial views of the proposal are broadly favourable. The site has been derelict for too long and we believe that most people will agree that development of this site is long overdue. The developer is aware of the architectural importance of this site leading to one of the Edinburgh city gateways ; the need to restore the mixed style streetscape whilst being sympathetic to the McDonald library façade and the need to ensure that the development is both well-designed and managed and has minimal impact on local residents and other local amenities. However, it must be recognised that in the locality there is a higher concentration than typical of student accommodation.
The development team are also aware of the historical significance of this site regarding the original Botanic Cottage & are contemplating a community event focussing on the archaeology around this. NTBCC also supports the retention or relocation of the trees bordering Leith Walk on the site if possible – this development was part of the old Botanic garden and the site of the old Botanic Cottage and we feel that there should be some historical linkage to this – we encourage the developer to pay homage to this in some way.
The latest outline plans including proposals for the streetscape will be available at the Public Exhibition on 24th June together with representatives from the developer’s team. The York-based Harrison Group has long experience at developing difficult sites in heritage areas and experience with development of student accommodation either as owner / operator or for third parties.
In 1763 the Royal Botanic Garden moved to a new home on Leith Walk, and the following year work began on a remarkable building at its entrance: the Botanic Cottage (see below).
Threatened with demolition and being lost forever in the early 2000s, a community campaign saved the cottage, and it will now be re-built in the present Botanic Garden in Inverleith, as a centre for community and education use.