Planning application for student and commercial scheme at Jock’s Lodge in Edinburgh submitted to the Council 

Willowbrae Road concept art

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A PLANNING application by Alumno Group for high-quality purpose-built student accommodation, including ground floor commercial space at Jock’s Lodge, has been submitted to City of Edinburgh Council.

These exciting proposals by the specialist student accommodation provider are located on the corner of Restalrig Road South and London Road. 

The development will include 191 student rooms and the constrained nature of the site on a busy main arterial route means that it is well suited to student accommodation. This will serve to address rapidly increased demand and provide a much-needed boost for local businesses through delivering increased footfall.

Existing local businesses on the site all agreed to its sale and are committed to the redevelopment of the site, as current facilities are no longer commercially viable.

Development will comprise a mix of single bedrooms with shared kitchens and larger studio style bedrooms. Facilities provided will include a ground floor lounge, study, gym and social spaces, with generous cycle storage provision, laundry and storage. External amenity provision includes a rear landscaped courtyard and external terraces at roof level. Largely car-free, the development will have two parking spaces included, one of which will be an accessible/disabled parking space.

Following an extensive pre-application and public engagement process, a series of design changes and developments have been realised:

  • The overall massing was reduced from 8 to 7 storeys, while revised floor-to-floor heights and a shortening of the parapet has significantly reduced the building height further.
  • The commercial area offering has been increased, with additional provision for an outdoor terraced area. The proposed commercial space will include a new community local food and drink use, replacing the neighbouring Limelite pub, but under the same local ownership.
  • Let by Heineken UK, the Willow pub, which currently operates on the site, has been relocated to Musselburgh and is now trading as Willow on High Street following an agreement with Heineken. It will operate both at this new location and it is hoped at Jock’s Lodge until the latter is redeveloped.

Prior to taking on a temporary management agreement for The Willow at Jock’s Lodge, the operators were advised of the planned sale of the site by Heineken, who identified it for disposal due to a chequered trading history. They were offered it on a limited tenure and opted to take it on that basis while the negotiations to redevelop the site were finalised. The operators currently operate on a very minimum rent/utility-free basis.

Alumno has a strong reputation for commissioning new artworks for its developments and is working with arts consultant, Matthew Jarratt, to deliver a series of sculpture and other artwork commissions which will be integrated into the new building and public realm by Edinburgh-based artist, Kenny Hunter.

Local artists and students/recent graduates from Edinburgh College of Art will also be engaged in design projects and given the opportunity to showcase their works at the site.

Having assessed the number of existing and proposed purpose-built student accommodation developments in the area, along with analysing the existing concentration of students, it is clear there is not a significant number of new purpose-built student accommodation overall in this area when set against an Edinburgh context.

Even if the development is delivered, the concentration of students will remain within an acceptable threshold.  If approved, the eight developments that are within a mile radius of the site (including Jock’s Lodge), will amount to 1,666 bedrooms, giving a student population of 4.3 per cent in terms of purpose-built accommodation in that location. Combined with other students i.e. those not living in purpose-built accommodation, this results in a total of 3,523 students or 8.9 per cent of the population.

In addition, if approved, the number of full-time students living in the Craigentinny/ Duddingston ward (in which the Jocks Lodge site sits) will only rise to 10.1 per cent of the resident population if all the accommodation that is currently in use, has been approved, or is at application stage, is delivered.

This level would still be significantly lower than the proportions of full-time students living in the Southside/Newington, City Centre, Meadows/Morningside and Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart wards.

It is anticipated that spending in the local area by the students living at the Jock’s Lodge development is estimated to be more than £900,000 per year, and at its peak during the construction phase it is estimated  that the site will employ a workforce of up to 40.

David Campbell, founder of Alumno said:

“This exciting mixed-use scheme will serve to ease the acute housing pressures by providing greater options whilst, addressing the increasing and well documented, student housing demand by providing modern, high quality and well managed accommodation.

“We have listened to the responses of the local community through our thorough consultation process and have reduced the height of the building to accommodate this feedback.

“Employment and investment will be generated both during construction and once complete, increasing footfall to local shops and also serving to provide a new sustainable food/drink outlet for the community, including outdoor space. We are committed to being a good neighbour and believe our plans will make the best and most positive impact on what is a highly constrained and challenging urban site.”

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