The historic Edinburgh meadows site is, yet again, being encroached on by modern developments, this time by student housing giants Unite. In the face of corporations buying out this public land the main source of protest comes from a group of local flatmates on the social networking site Facebook.
Starbucks, Sainsbury’s and Peter’s Yard coffee house have already moved in underneath modern glass fronted executive housing developments on middle meadow walk with ancient trees being pulled down to make way for outside cafe seating.
Student housing giants Unite initially proposed to build a new development directly on the meadows but after objections only the front door of one student residence will sit on the site itself. Unite have been criticised in the past for building student flats which are poorly constructed and date quickly while still charging over the going rate for rent in Edinburgh – on average between £450 and £750 per student.
The ‘Save the Meadows!’ group was started by flatmates living in a property bordering the meadows. Made up of both students and professionals they felt that over development in the vicinity of the meadows threatened both an important historical site and a way of life enjoyed by many in the capital.
Initially the group included only the flatmates who set it up but it has now grown to over 3.5 thousand members with a link to an online petition which as so far garnered nearly 500 signatures.
The petition details yet more issues with the new developments with petitioners being asked to sign to show their objection to:
“council-approved plans to build a huge glass and metal complex of student flats facing directly onto World Heritage Site, the Meadows. We believe that the so-called ‘negligble’ destruction of ancient trees is unethical at best, that the corporate babysitting of students undermines their independence”
The risk to diversity within the Tollcross is also highlighted as this will be the 6th exclusively student housing scheme within the area leading to fears that this area of the city will become dominated by students and adversely affect the non student community.
The meadows is an area which has long been an integral part of life in Edinburgh, providing a welcome retreat from city life. In the face of these issues the main objection comes from locals using Facebook, the most popular social networking tool of the moment, something we are all able to add our voice too.