Just for the record, I objected to ugly plans for a new development at Canonmills on the banks of Edinburgh’s Water of Leith. Midnight was the deadline but my email to the Planning Committee prompted an auto response…the planning department officer was now away for two weeks. So I posted it on the City Council Planning Portal and got a response telling me my ‘truncated comment’ had been lodged.  Online objecting is not quite as easy as it seems, but still worth doing.  Why do I care?  It goes back a long way.


Old Canonmills building juxtaposed with planned development of flat roofed 4 storey block of flats

What on Earthy? photo from STV Edinburgh Facebook page


Just a few hours before the deadline, I discovered that  that objections could be emailed,  I rattled off a quick missive to the address given: Jennifer.Zochowska@edinburgh.gov.uk

Dear Ms Zochowska

Planning application 14/02786/FUL.

I am writing  to object to the plans for Canonmills.

The design proposed by Fouin and Bell on behalf of property developers Mountlake – an L shaped four storey building with 6 flats, two townhouses and retail units – is quite out of scale and character with this sensitive setting on the Water of Leith.

Any new four storey building would quite radically change one of the best views towards and along the Water of Leith from west,  east, north and south.

But this particular design clearly contravenes the council’s own guidelines for development in a conservation area.  Most notably:

“…when considering development within a conservation area, special attention must be paid to its character and appearance. Proposals which fail to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the area will normally be refused. Guidance on what contributes to character is given in the conservation area character appraisals…”

And so on. I added some  thoughts on the nature of waterfront developments (Edinburgh’s record so is mixed to say the least) and the need for imagination and sensitivity from architects, developers and council planners all round.

Why should I care?  Well, it goes back a long way.  Decades of walks along the Water of Leith, trips up and down the Rodney Street hill to shops and cafes in Canonmills, journeys along the way to the Botanics, leaning over the bridge to watch ducks and herons and city flotsam float by – and, more recently, to gawp at flood prevention works (which may or may not be another planning mistake).

Longer ago than I care to remember I wrote a piece for the Scotsman about a property development that would oust the pottery from Canonmills. I’m delighted to say that article helped to find potter Janet Adam a new workshop in Stockbridge  (she’s still there turning out beautiful pieces ).  And more recently I wrote about the arrival of Earthy, taking the opportunity of a lease in the then blighted building (recession has its uses).  Local interest was whetted by the sign in the window: It’s Not Tesco.

Well the proposed development is not Tesco either but that doesn’t mean it’s right for the area.  Edinburgh City Council please show some vision.


Words 'its not Tesco' scratched in window of Earthy before the shop opened.

Lets keep it Earthy