A Scottish Government Reporter has granted planning permission for a purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) development on the site of the former Tynecastle High School in Edinburgh. S1 Developments submitted a planning application in 2021.
The new PBSA development will deliver 468 bedspaces, and the original school hall will be repurposed as a central amenity hub, sitting within a collegiate-style courtyard space and providing shared facilities for student residents. The development has been designed to be sustainable with zero parking, 100% cycle parking, the employment of low-carbon technologies and no use of fossil fuels. Landscaping proposals will also increase green space across the site by more than 40%, helping to increase biodiversity within the local area.
S1 Developments will also regenerate a site that has been vacant for over a decade and fallen into disrepair. The restoration of the original Category B-listed school building, designed by John Alexander Carfrae, forms an integral part of the proposals.
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. He also identified the Tynecastle High School 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 only for the length of their university or college courses.
The Reporter also noted the proximity of universities and colleges to the Tynecastle High School 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 noted that this figure is well below the 50% given to demonstrate excessive concentration of students and in his view would not lead to an “imbalanced community”.
Council guidance points to the benefits of PBSA 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 are also expected to benefit through increased spending from student residents.
The charity – People Know How – will act as preferred operators for community facilities on site, 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 to access the digital world, and assists communities in shaping their areas through community consultation and empowerment. Students already volunteer for the charity, which is expected to facilitate a relationship with students in the building.
“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.”Dan Teague, Director, S1 Developments