Scottish Government Reporter approves Alumno student residence on appeal

Alumno Group has been granted planning permission for the construction of high-quality purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) on London Road in Edinburgh in the Jock’s Lodge area of the city following a successful appeal. The development will help meet increasing demand from a growing student population and take pressure off local housing, while rejuvenating the area economically.

The Scottish Government Reporter gave the go ahead for the project, which involved a thorough community engagement programme organised by award-winning PBSA specialist Alumno and planning consultants Stantec. “This included two public consultation events and one online, together with our attendance at a local fair,” said Colin Lavety, Planning Director at Stantec. “All comments were carefully considered and fed back into the final submission. This included reducing the proposed number of storeys from eight to seven and shortening the parapet in response to concerns over the building’s height.”

The development will house 191 students in a mix of mix of single bedrooms with shared kitchens and larger studio-style bedrooms. The facilities are designed to provide the best environment for both socialising and work, including a ground floor lounge, study, gym, communal spaces and laundry. The residence will be car free, with more than the recommended cycle storage space provided, along with a bike hire scheme, to help minimise environmental impact.

Commercial space will also occupy the ground floor. This will include a new local food and drink store, replacing the neighbouring Limelight public house, but under the same ownership. Local businesses on the site all agreed to its sale because current facilities were no longer commercially viable. 

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The site was once home to the original Jock’s Lodge inn, dating back to at least 1650, which was the first stop where the Edinburgh-to-London stagecoach would change horses. It is currently occupied by the Willow public house, which has relocated to another part of the city, with the owners planning to trade in both locations until redevelopment begins.

Edinburgh-based architect Stallan-Brand designed the new building, which features two interlocking wings, softened by a facade that curves away at London Road. “The playful composition nods to the characterful neighbours and acts as a transition from the more rigorous approach taken on the street elevations fronting bedrooms,” explained Design Director Paul Stallan. “Playing with scale, through relief and layering, we’ve aimed to break down the form, creating a visually arresting corner that enriches the site and setting.” 

In line with its commitment to supporting the arts by integrating local works into its projects, Alumno will partner with Arts Consultant Matthew Jarratt to curate site-specific sculpture and text commissions by Edinburgh-based artist Kenny Hunter, a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. The theme of the art will be travel to commemorate Jack’s Lodge. Students from Edinburgh College of Art will also be given the opportunity to make work for the atrium.

“We are very pleased with the Reporter’s decision,” said Alumno Managing Director David Campbell. “We are now focused on delivering a development that we believe will contribute to the overall improvement of the local area, and we remain committed to engaging with the community as we move forward.”

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“I’d like to thank the local community for their valuable input to date, along with our partners Stantec and Stallan-Brand for their hard work and commitment to the project. It will provide much-need local PBSA and help rejuvenate this historic site economically and socially.” 

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