Cafe site to be redeveloped

Down to Earthy: City institution doomed

EarthyOne of Edinburgh’s much-loved institutions is to be demolished after a developer won its appeal to build a block of flats on the site.

Glovart Investments secured planning permission from the Scottish Government reporter to redevelop the building in Canonmills occupied by Earthy, a popular cafe and delicatessen.

The reporter’s decision at this stage is final, unless objectors can find a point of law on which to mount a challenge before the Court of Session within six weeks.

The move has shocked campaigners who fought to retain the venue which has been particularly popular with young families.

The decision has been taken despite a 7,000-strong petition to save the 19th century low level building. Apart from its popularity, supporters say it fits in architecturally in the area whereas its replacement will not.

The city council’s development management sub-committee refused the application last. However, reporter Frances McChiery noted that the committee approved planning permission in 2010. She said:

I consider that the previous decision by the council to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of the site, and further, their views that the new development would preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area, are material considerations which I should take into account. No fundamental flaw in that decision making process has been indicated. I do not consider it necessary or appropriate to revisit the council’s considerations and reach my own view on the appropriateness, or relative value of the approved redevelopment scheme for the site. I proceed on the basis that there are acceptable proposals for the replacement of the building.

She found the building to be of no special architectural significance or particular beauty. She said it was not typical of other structures in the Conservation Area.

The building is not unattractive in its modesty, and it would be fair to call it ‘quaint’, but in its setting and context, I do not consider the building to be of any importance to the character and interest of the Inverleith conservation area. However, many of the views expressed are actually objections to the alternative development proposals, which has already been approved by the council. I have noted and taken account of the strong expressions of support for the current situation, but many elements of these have not been relevant to the central question before me, which concerns the importance of the building to the conservation area.

Pic: Earthy at Canonmills (byTerry Murden)

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