Local authority planners have approved proposals to convert the former office accommodation at 21A Tolbooth Street into two flats - suggesting the blueprint would have no effect on the vitality or viability of the local economy.
Work on the C-listed structure will see an original feature - namely the chimney - removed; an extension, wall and gate created; walls re-rendered; new windows, doors and rooflights put in; and the roof re-tiled.
However, structural reports carried out suggested previous work on the chimney had resulted in “significant damage” and that it should therefore be removed as part of the redevelopment.
The two-storey building, which is opposite an entrance to the Mercat Shopping Centre, has been vacant some time after being used as offices by various businesses and organisations over the years.
Case officer Martin Mackay noted that changes in a conservation area like the one in question were often controversial, but said the designs put forward would result in a “positive overall improvement on the visual appearance of the building”.
No objections to the development were received per se, although Morag Robertson, who owns the neighbouring Robertson’s Cafe, had expressed concerns about access issues.
“On my side of the boundary, there is a long-established car parking area/goods delivery area for the sole use of my coffee shop tenant,” she explained.
“It is difficult to see how the developer can construct a new extension to the property without requiring access to my car park area.
“I also have concerns on behalf of my tenant that the construction works may give rise to noise, dust, obstruction of our car park entrance by construction vehicles, or offloads of building materials etc.
“Such problems would very clearly impact badly upon the coffee shop business, which has already suffered the significant business difficulties caused by the current pandemic.”
In response, Mr Mackay said the issues raised were not material planning considerations, although talks between the tenant and developer about how work could be done to minimise any impact on the former’s business were anticipated.