Student homes complex approved at fourth try

A NEW student housing complex overlooking the Meadows has been approved by councillors at the fourth time of asking.

­Members of the city's planning committee have agreed to grant permission for the scheme, which will see the Unite Group create rooms for around 250 students on the former NCP car park by the old Royal Infirmary.

The plans had caused concern among community leaders and residents, who said that there was already "over-provision" of student accommodation in the area.

The proposals had been stalled by councillors on three occasions to carry out visits to the site and evaluate the impact the flats would have. But after Unite made changes to the scheme to alleviate fears of overshadowing neighbouring properties, it was given the go-ahead.

The site had been owned by NHS Lothian, which is now expected to receive £8.5 million from the student housing firm for the land.

Roy Durie, NHS Lothian's property consultant, said the decision meant the money would be reinvested in health services across the Lothians.

He added the scheme would also provide "desperately needed" student accommodation in the city, as well as transforming an undeveloped central site.

Unite, which is the UK's biggest provider of student homes, had previously had a separate plan for a complex at McDonald Road turned down by the council.

Source: Evening News, Friday, 25th April, 2008