York-based property developer expands presence in Scotland

A York-based property developer has expanded its reach in Scotland through jointly submitting a planning application with a national charity to redevelop its former HQ in Edinburgh.

S Harrison is working with Sight Scotland to redevelop the charity’s site at Gillespie Crescent in Scotland’s capital, into high-quality student homes. Located within the Bruntsfield area to the south west of the city centre, the site is only a fifteen-minute walk from the University of Edinburgh and Napier Merchiston campuses.

The company has a long pedigree of working in the city, ranging from delivering the Malmaison at St Andrew Square, to student developments at Westfield and Gorgie and a hotel development at Osborne House, Haymarket.

Proposals for Gillespie Crescent include demolition of the existing vacant building and erection of purpose-built student accommodation and associated amenity space, landscaping and infrastructure. A total of 145 bedrooms are proposed, with additional amenities including a cinema/multimedia room and gym. There will 100% cycle parking provision.

The development makes best use of the site and will deliver a high quality, well-designed, sustainable development, including green roofs, solar panels, air source heat pumps, a rain garden and permeable paving.

A shared, publicly accessible amenity green space, will offer an area in front of the building for people to walk, sit and rest and provides the opportunity for social interaction of different groups within the community. The existing trees will also be retained.

S Harrison has a strong pedigree of development in York, starting work on a 303-bedroom student scheme on James Street (the former Alton Motors site) earlier this summer, and has delivered other projects in the city including, York City Council HQ – West Offices, Abode student accommodation on Percy’s Lane and Hampton By Hilton on Toft Green.

This development in Edinburgh will serve to address a well-recognised shortfall in student accommodation in the city, with a student homelessness crisis recognised by the Council in June 2023.

The funds released by the sale of the site will enable Sight Scotland, a charity dedicated to meeting the challenges of visual impairment, to further expand its reach, and support even more people living with sight loss within existing services such as the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh. It will also provide future services for the city as well as expanding its ability to fund medical research to tackle the root causes of sight loss.

Sight Scotland occupied the building for nearly a century and continue to repair and maintain it, despite vacating the building early in 2021 as it was no longer fit for purpose prior to taking the decision to sell it. Staff were relocated to modern, open plan offices elsewhere in the city, suited to current working requirements, allowing them to work alongside the Scottish Braille Press Service

David Clancy, a director for S Harrison, commented: “We are delighted to be expanding our presence in Scotland through jointly submitting this application with Sight Scotland.

“This proposed development on a brownfield site, if approved, will respond to this increasing demand, housing students in a central location with easy access by active travel and public transport to universities and delivering significant investment into the local community.”

Davina Shiell, director of marketing, communications and engagement for Sight Scotland said: “The funds released by the sale of the site, if consented, will enable us to further expand our reach, and support even more people living with visual impairments within existing services such as the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh.”


By Mark Adair – Correspondent, Bdaily

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