Council approves holiday apartments in town center

Edinburgh City Council has approved planning applications for 20 new AirBnB-style holiday apartments in the city centre, despite a pledge to limit the number of short-term rentals in the capital.

Councilors cleared the conversion of a former New Town language school into tourist accommodation at a meeting on Wednesday – without any debate on the proposals.

The planning sub-committee has approved the change of use of two adjacent townhouses on Albyn Place, which was occupied by Kaplan International Languages ​​until the school moved into a new building on St Andrew Square l ‘last year.

Former classrooms and offices will be turned into a short-term rental (STL) block, the proliferation of which is often blamed in part on the city’s housing shortage.

Labor, which runs the local authority as a minority administration, promised in its 2022 manifesto to ‘limit the number of short-term lets’.

New powers allow council to refuse holiday rental applications where there is loss of existing accommodation or neighbors may be disturbed. However, none of the policies were relevant to Albyn Place’s application.

Officials said the plans would “preserve the special architectural and historic interest” of the listed Georgian building.

But the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland took a different view and said in an objection sent to the council that the proposals “constitute an overdevelopment”.

The letter added: ‘Council guidance is clear that there should be no more than one apartment per floor in a townhouse conversion. A lighter touch would have less impact on the fabric of the building.

“We believe the proposals would cause unnecessary damage to the listed building.”

And residents also opposed the program, questioning how the plans matched the authority’s commitment to cracking down on STLs.

One said: “This proposal goes against ECC’s stated goal of reducing the extent of tourist accommodation in the city centre.

“This is a quiet residential area where the buildings overlook a square which is home to Wemyss Place Mews. The proposal, with rear access to two of the units and, in effect, 24-hour parking access will result in a huge increase in noise, which is channeled upwards and amplified by surrounding buildings.

Another added: ‘I find it difficult to understand why this request is being made, given the council’s alleged objection to so many AirBnBs, and this proposal for short term rentals is the same except in name.’

by Donald Turville

The Local Democracy Information Service (LDRS) is a public service news agency. It is funded by the BBC, supplied by the local news industry (in Edinburgh, Reach plc, the publisher behind Edinburgh Live and The Daily Record, and used by many qualified partners. Local Democracy Reporters covers news from leading local authorities and other service organizations.

Buildings on Albyn Place

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