The destruction of part of a wall to create a parking space in a conservation area has sparked a bitter war of words between residents in one of Edinburgh’s most tight-knit communities.
Work to dismantle the wall, drop the kerb and form a hard standing in front of the property on Ashville Terrace in Leith’s famous Lochend Colonies was completed last year.
Neighbours have since branded the development “shameful” and warned it could “ruin the colonies” – an area of the city where parking is notoriously difficult.
Officials have now recommended a retrospective planning application going before councillors this week be refused and enforced.
The resident behind the creation of the parking space claimed Edinburgh City Council previously told her that no planning consent was needed to remove the wall.
She vowed to take legal action against the council over its handling of the case, while her partner claimed they had faced “daily abuse” as part of a “witch-hunt” by local residents.
The woman, who asked not to be named, has lived in the top floor flat for 20 years, and explained the parking space is for a disabled family member.
She pointed out that people in neighbouring properties have been allowed by the council to form driveways.
She added the local authority did not object or comment on an application made to the roads department for alterations to the kerb and pavement.
But following an inspection from planning officers after work was completed last summer, she was told to formally apply for planning permission.
The woman, has also displayed a “no parking” sign on the narrow residential street to stop others using the space – but as she cannot legally enforce it she has her partner park in front of the driveway to avoid it getting blocked by neighbours.
The council received 42 objections in response to the application, with several neighbours reacting negatively to the changes.
An Ashville Terrace resident wrote: “Allowing this driveway to go ahead we will lose a parking space.”
They also disputed the applicant’s claims that the drive was to assist someone who has mobility issues.
Another objector said: “The Lochend colonies are a conservation area therefore I was astonished to see the original boundary wall demolished by the resident then the pavement lowered to allow for a driveway.”
A resident of Woodbine Terrace, a row of Colony houses running parallel to Ashville Terrace, added: “This will completely ruin the Colonies – there are only five areas in Edinburgh and Scotland with these houses. Shameful of the owner.”
Someone commented that the wall’s removal has “caused a breakdown in this close community”, adding it will “allow people to take any building action that they see fit”.
The council also received 57 letters of support, although the official report noted that “multiple representations were submitted by individuals” and “some commentors did not provide accurate names or addresses”.
One was signed by Lord Zander Cotton from North Yankton Yankton — a fictional place from the computer game Grand Theft Auto.
A second read: “Perfect solution to park private cars and yet still keeping the spirit of the area.”
It was described as “an ecological beautiful driveway” in another supporting statement, with someone else saying: “Lovely garden yet gives availability to use cars and save road space, very environmentally friendly.”
In a report to the Development Management Sub-Committee, which will determine the application on Wednesday, March 16, planning officers said: “The proposals fail to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area and property itself.
“The application does not comply with the Edinburgh Local Development Plan, Edinburgh Colonies Conservation Area Character Appraisal, non-statutory guidance for Listed Building and Conservation Areas or non-statutory Guidance for Householders.
“The proposals are not in keeping with the character and appearance of the conservation area and have an adverse impact on neighbouring residential amenity.”
The City of Edinburgh Council said it is unable to comment in advance of planning applications being discussed at committee.
Furthermore, a council source indicated there is no evidence to show the applicant was informed they could do the works without planning permission.
Adam McVey, ward councillor for Leith, said: “It’s clear there are additional needs which I hope the council can find ways to support. I’ve started discussions with officers to make progress on some of these but I do understand the need for accessibility that lies behind this application.
“I’m sure when considering whether to approve the application or make an exception, committee members will fully take into account the circumstances. Whatever the outcome of the application, I’ll continue to give what support I can to help.”
The applicant said she intends to take legal action against Edinburgh City Council over its handling of the case.
Her partner, who does not live at the address permanently, claimed she has been subject to “a witch hunt conducted by local residents” that has come with “daily abuse” and “racist attacks”.
He added: “The City of Edinburgh Council has been disproportionate in their approach and handling to our application. No family should have been singled out in this manner, lawfully following council guidelines and the behaviour of the local residents is simply deplorable.
“These constitute as hate crimes and the minority of the colonies of Lochend Road do not represent the people from Leith.”