SIGHT Scotland and S Harrison Developments have submitted an application to redevelop the site of the charity’s former headquarters.
The joint planning application hopes to develop the site, on Gillespie Crescent in Edinburgh, into student housing.
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.
Sight Scotland supports 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 offices in Gorgie, allowing them to work alongside the Scottish Braille Press Service.
Proposals include demolition of the existing vacant building and erection of purpose-built student housing 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 aims to deliver sustainable development, including green roofs, solar panels, air source heat pumps (ASHP), 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. The existing trees will also be retained.
Development will serve to address a well-recognised shortfall in Edinburgh student housing, with a student homelessness crisis recognised by the Council in June 2023.
Between 2016/17 and 2021/22, student numbers in the city have increased by over 25%, from 53,845 to 67,355. Included in this, the University of Edinburgh saw numbers increase by 27% and Napier University by 29% over this period.1
Demand for student accommodation greatly outstrips supply, and places significant pressure on traditional family housing stock, with students occupying homes that would in many cases have previously been occupied by families.
A spokesperson for S Harrison Developments commented: “We are in a housing crisis, with a need for all types of housing.
“Demand for student accommodation greatly outstrips supply, and this is placing significant pressure on traditional family housing stock, with students occupying homes that would in many cases have previously been occupied by families.
“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.
“It will also allow us to provide new future services for the city, as well as expanding our ability to fund medical research to tackle the root causes of sight loss.”