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05/08/2022

Alumno Group Propose New Student And Commercial Scheme

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Proposals by Alumno Group for high-quality purpose-built student accommodation, including ground floor commercial space at Jock's Lodge in Edinburgh, are set to go out for public consultation.

The proposals by the specialist student accommodation provider are located on the corner of Restalrig Road South and London Road. They will also see the re-provision of a new community pub, replacing the current Limelite bar, under the management of the existing owner.

The development will address rapidly increasing student demand by providing purpose-built accommodation, freeing up homes for families and providing a much-needed boost for local businesses through delivering increased footfall.

The constrained nature of the site on a busy main artery route is well suited to student accommodation, and the development will include 188 student rooms set over 7 storeys, in keeping with the existing tenements. It will comprise a mix of single bedrooms with shared kitchens and larger studio style bedrooms. Largely car-free, it will have two parking spaces included for staff use.

Facilities provided will include ground floor lounge, study and social spaces, with generous cycle storage provision, laundry and storage. External amenity provision includes a rear landscaped courtyard and external terraces at roof level.

Alumno has a strong reputation for commissioning new artworks for its developments and is working with arts consultant, Matthew Jarratt, to deliver a series of sculpture and other artwork commissions which will be integrated into the new building and public realm by Edinburgh-based artist, Kenny Hunter. Local artists and students/recent graduates from Edinburgh College of Art will also be engaged in design projects and given the opportunity to showcase their works at the site.

Located in closed proximity to Edinburgh's universities and colleges this mixed-use scheme will also serve to free up much-needed flats, currently occupied by students, for families.

Numbers of full-time students at the five universities based in Edinburgh have increased by 54 per cent since 2000/01 and currently stand at more than 56,000, their highest ever level.

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In spite of the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, future growth is likely to be further driven by rapidly increasing numbers of 18-year-olds in the population over the next decade, record levels of participation in Higher Education and the continuing attractiveness of Scotland and Edinburgh in particular for university level study.

Currently, only two in five full-time students can be accommodated in purpose-built student accommodation and, if approved, the numbers of full-time students living in the Craigentinny / Duddingston ward (in which the Jocks Lodge site sits) will only rise to 10.1 per cent of the resident population if all of the accommodation that is currently in use, has been approved or is at application stage is delivered. 

This level would still be significantly lower than the proportions of full-time students living in the Southside/ Newington, City Centre, Meadows / Morningside and Fountainbridge / Craiglockhart wards;

Adhering to Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance, which still requires digital consultations for proposed planning applications, the public will have the chance to view and provide feedback on the proposals via a dedicated website - www.jockslodgeplanning.co.uk.

This will include live interaction via an online chat function on 10th August between 12:00 and 19:00 where members of the Project Team will be available to answer questions and interact with the local community. 

David Campbell, founder of Alumno said: "Our exciting mixed-use scheme student scheme will serve to free up housing for families, addressing increasing student demand by providing accommodation on what is a highly constrained and challenging site.

"Employment and investment will be generated both during construction and once complete, and will also serve to re-provide a local community pub, currently located on the site. As a company with a strong reputation in commissioning new artwork, if approved we look forward to working with local artists on the commissioning of new artwork for the site.

"We would strongly urge the public to become involved in this consultation exercise, allowing it to shape our proposals as we move forward."

Owner of the Limelite, Andy Currie, noted: "We are very excited about the potential to be part of this development, providing a new community pub and allowing future generations a great place to socalise.

"Local businesses I have spoken with are extremely supportive of the proposals and this new student population will not only provide a much-needed boost through increased footfall, but will also be able to provide employment opportunities, which they are currently struggling to fill."

Paul Stallan from architects for the development, Stallan Brand, said: "As a parent whose daughter has just completed her university education in Edinburgh, I can confirm that the City's accommodation offer for undergraduates is unsatisfactory. Standing in queues outside letting agents to procure and compete for a limited pool of private flats because there is a lack of quality purpose-built student residential is a reality. Well, it was for me!

"Significant demand clearly exists for safe attractive student living given the impressive growth in Edinburgh's higher education sector and its ability to attract learners from across the world. Whether for a domestic or international market, a new generation of student residential architecture is a sustainable necessity for the city. In a direct response to the increasing demand, this project for Alumno promotes a best-in-class development that places student wellbeing at its core, animating a currently-under used corner site through delivering a building that connects with an existing neighbourhood.

"The project's scale and massing has been crafted through a thorough pre-consultation process with Edinburgh's planning team to arrive at a respectful design that we are confident will bring a new vibrancy to this location."

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