HOSTILE REACTION IN ADVANCE OF EXHIBITION LATER THIS WEEK
Save Leith Walk campaigners have reacted scornfully to preliminary design proposals for the redevelopment of Stead’s Place.
They say demolition of the two-storey 1930s buildings, whilst retaining elements of their facades in a new five/six-storey structure, would be ‘overpowering and disrespectful’ of Leith Walk’s heritage.
They also criticise the incongruous use of brick.
On the other hand, those behind the ‘Design ideas’ – architects Halliday Fraser Munro and developers Drum (Steads Place) Ltd – seem keen to stress those parts that reflect the neighbourhood.
They propose emphasising the current use of sandstone, perhaps with neutral colours on adjacent areas. They describe the rounded southern end of the building as a traditional Leith Walk block ending. And the recessed mansard roof, they say, is in keeping with surrounding architecture.
‘Opportunities for public art would embed the buildings into the fabric of Leith.’
Reaction so far on the SLW Facebook page suggests that local people are far from convinced.
Several expressed disappointment that what they understood to be the developer’s undertaking last month to examine the possibility of retaining the current structures (Breaking news, 18.4.18) was not reflected in the latest designs.
Many thought the proposal is far too high.
Mo Moxy called it a ‘Misplaced humongous vulgarity! A monument to social ignorance.’
‘More little boxes,’ wrote Mary McLeod. ‘Time the Planning Department realised we, the tax payers, do not want these monstrosities in Leith or anywhere else for that matter! Newhaven eight storey flats are out of place on the shore road too!’
Kirsten Skye reckoned ‘Scale should be in keeping with the city and we have a wee town for a city and the people of Edinburgh make the place and people come to see authentic Edinburgh. Go to Montpellier – it is bigger but otherwise like a sanitised version of Edinburgh, now rammed with mainly students and soulless, lots of vanity projects and local culture gone, just silly shops for over sized wealthy bairns … we are heading that way.’
Ian van Tullo called it ‘Tupperware housing for a plastic community. Transient residents uninterested and uninvested in the rich culture of Leith. Very sad to see these plans.’
Not everyone was so polite, but not everyone agreed either. ‘This is wonderful,’ enthused John Garner, seemingly swimming against the tide. ‘A new Leith, a better Leith, forward thinking Leith not lost in the past. New people moving in, new buildings and the trams too. Leith is moving forward and getting better. Out with the old, in with the new.’
Michele Hall argued ‘Change is inevitable but it should embrace and nurture the area. This is too high. We’d lose the sunlight and that is precious enough. It is also too flat, it needs texture, changes in depth to pavement, so that cafes can offer wind free spots.’
Spurtle has not seen the Design ideas other than those artist-impressions which appear on the Save Leith Walk Facebook page. However, they will be on public display from noon till 8pm on 4 May, and from noon till 5pm on 5 May, in the Out of the Blue Drill Hall on Dalmeny Street.
Meanwhile, for those interested in this particular development, useful context on how CEC Planners will eventually assess it is available in the report dated 25 April available HERE.
UPDATE (4.5.18): Following the developers' first PAN exhibition today, Ross McEwan of the Save Leith Walk campaign said in a press release: ‘We are extremely disappointed by the updated plans for Stead’s Place, Leith Walk. We had hoped that the developer Drum Property Group could have found a way to incorporate the existing building into their plans in keeping with the local community’s wishes, but they have failed to do so and ignored the historical significance of Leith Walk.
‘Furthermore, there is no mention of increasing the proportion of affordable homes in the development, something that is sorely needed in Leith.
‘We understand that Drum Group’s planning application will be submitted in early June, and you can be sure that the Save Leith Walk group will redouble our efforts to ensure the Leith community’s voices are heard, and the heritage of multicultural and vibrant Leith is preserved.
‘We are calling for all people in Leith, Edinburgh and Scotland – as well as anyone who’s ever had their High Street threatened – to join us in the campaign to save the character and heart of Leith.’