Planning permission granted for student development on site of former Tynecastle High School, Edinburgh

The planned collegiate-style courtyard space

A SCOTTISH Government Reporter has granted planning permission for a planning application by S1 Developments for an exciting new student residential development at Edinburgh’s former Tynecastle High School site (CGI images attached).

In addition to 468 bedspaces, the original school hall will be repurposed as a central amenity hub, sitting within a collegiate-style courtyard space and providing high quality shared facilities for student residents. 

Landscaping proposals increase green space across the site by more than 40 per cent, helping to increase biodiversity within the local area.

The development has been designed to be highly sustainable with zero parking, 100 per cent cycle parking, the employment of low carbon technologies and no use of fossil fuels.

In his report, the Reporter noted that the “development of the site for mainstream housing would be constrained by the presence of the listed buildings”, making student development a more viable option.

In addition, he identified the site which is dominated by the football ground and North British Distillery, as being more suitable for students “who would only spend part of their year in residence” and then only for the length of their University or college courses.

The Reporter also noted the proximity of universities and colleges to the site and that the student population in the local area, including the proposed development would be approximately 24% and therefore not lead to an overly concentrated student population in the area.

He notes that this figure is well below the 50% given to demonstrated excessive concentration of students and in his view would not lead to an “imbalanced community”.

This high-quality student development will regenerate a site that has lain vacant for over a decade and fallen into a state of disrepair. The careful restoration of the original Category B-listed school building, designed by John Alexander Carfrae, forms an integral part of the proposals. The development will far exceed amenity standards for similar student developments and has sustainability at its heart.

Council guidance points to the benefits of purpose-built student accommodation in freeing up traditional housing stock for families with children and it has been estimated that a development such as this could release up to 180 properties back into the housing market. Local businesses will also benefit through increased spending from student residents. 

Charity People Know How will act as preferred operators for community facilities on the site. This which already works with Tynecastle High School, will operate a community facility within the building.

People Know How will operate a community facility, with the option for other local community groups to use space. The charity supports children, young people and their families in Edinburgh transition from primary to high school; helps individuals access the digital world and assists communities to shape their areas through community consultation and empowerment.

A large number of students volunteer to work with the charity, and this enables a positive relationship with students in the building to be established. Not only does this support the charity in its work, but also benefits the volunteers and engages them in the local area.

Dan Teague, Director at S1 Developments, said:

“We’re delighted to have received planning permission for this exciting development.

 “The original school building has fallen into a sorry state since it ceased being a school over a decade ago. Whilst the redevelopment is challenging, our proposed use brings with it an opportunity to save and renovate the original school building and continue its educational use, benefitting the local community.

“The Reporter also noted that this was a site more suitable for student housing than mainstream housing due to the constraints of the football stadium and North British Distillery.

“We look forward to working constructively with the community in delivering this development.”

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