This CC meeting was different. First, PC Bruce Burt, who has been policing the city centre for years, finally made it to our CC with only 100 odd days till retirement, and had members hanging on his words with his softly spoken but elegantly delivered crime report. We wish him well!
Then, rather than the usual Planning issues, we heard from Drummond Community High School (DCHS) Parent Council, who outlined their concerns about a proposal in a recent Council report that secondary-level Gaelic Medium Education (GME) be moved from its current home within Gillespie’s (which it was outgrowing) to DCHS. They stressed that they weren’t against GME per se, but were worried that given the increasing roll at DCHS, and its feeder primary schools, there would not be room for both the projected GME pupils and Drummond pupils in a few years. Whilst the City Council had offered guarantees that no current secondary school pupils would be forced to move, this didn’t offer comfort to parents whose kids were still at primary school and were hoping to join older siblings at DCHS. Neighbouring secondary schools such as Trinity Academy were already close to full. Although it might be possible to expand on the DCHS site, this would disrupt the school and cut into to playground space. There was also concern that the adult outreach programme at DCHS would be threatened, along with its “Community” status. In the ensuing discussion, several CC members voiced concerns about the GME proposals, whilst others felt it was too early to judge. It was agreed that CC members as a next step would attend an ‘engagement event’ with parents on 27 February at DCHS, where the City Council will present various options.
From a planning perspective, the latest RBS site application was briefly discussed, noting that Historic Environment Scotland had maintained their objection to the latest scheme. The Royal High School inquiry is now set for September 2018 with NTBCC participating as a partner along with the Cockburn Association & Edinburgh World Heritage. We agreed to support the expected public funding appeal from the Cockburn in the coming months.
Finally, we report a success! Two Licensing applications for variation (29-33 Dublin St and 3A Dundas St) to which NTBCC had submitted objections due to the likelihood of noise-nuisance. These have been permitted, BUT with for shortened hours and with a condition that ‘all amplified music and vocals shall be so controlled so as not to be an audible nuisance in neighbouring residential premises’. That is, the onus of proof of “no nuisance” is with the licensee, as it was for all licenced premises in Edinburgh until the Council’s Licensing Board started granting less stringent conditions for amplified music last year. This may be a useful precedent.
Full minutes of the meeting will be available in the coming weeks on the NTBCC website.
On 8 January it was standing room only as over 100 local residents and community councillors crammed into the Drummond Room at Broughton St Marys Church to discuss the amended proposals for the Royal Bank of Scotland site bordering Fettes Row and Dundas St. The overwhelming consensus was that the height of the proposed blocks, although cut down from 8 to 4 stories opposite Royal Crescent, would still cause unacceptable loss of amenity to neighbouring residents and George V Park users alike, and still exceeded the massing guidelines set by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) in their response to the initial proposals for development in the New Town Conservation area and adjacent to the Edinburgh World Heritage site. NTBCC are aware that HES and the developer’s architects have had several discussions on this and that HES will make further comments on the latest proposal.
Several argued that they were disappointed that RBS had not done enough to find an alternative use for some or all of the existing office buildings, some which may have potential to be converted into a hotel or apartments. Many also objected to the application for change of use to up to 100% residential , arguing that up to 400 new residential units would overwhelm the already stretched local schools and doctors surgeries - whereas a mixed use, retaining a requirement for a minimum of office use could create high quality jobs to support the local economy. A general concern was that demolition of the existing office buildings was sought despite the RBS only seeking change of use and outline planning permission. Fears were expressed that if demolition were granted on this basis before a detailed and properly funded scheme was brought forward residents could be left living next to a building site for years.
The NTBCC planning convener concurred with many of these points and assured the meeting that the Community Council would make a representation reflecting the mood of the meeting. The deadline for lodging comments or objections is 15 January and residents were reminded that objections would only be considered if they were founded on material considerations – such as loss of amenity or being contrary to policies in the Edinburgh Local Development Plan . The amendments can be viewed on the Edinburgh planning portal under the original application 16/05454/PPP. The NTBCC representation will be posted on this site in due course.
Edinburgh City Council is currently consulting on a proposal to apply a £40 surcharge on parking permits issued to owners of diesel vehicles, and are seeking views by way of an online survey, which is available on the Council’s Consultation Hub at https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/parking-permit-diesel-surcharge . The survey will remain open until 28 January 2018. The Community Council is keen to hear resident's views on this and will be putting it on the agenda of our 13 November meeting.
IMPACT Scotland are hosting a community consultation exhibition regarding proposals for land within Royal Bank of Scotland’s ownership at 36 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. The proposals are for the Demolition of the 1960's rear office block to the rear of Dundas House and the erection of a new music and performing arts venue in its place. IMPACT Scotland will be holding two public consultation events to inform the emerging proposals. A first drop-in public consultation exhibition is being held on Tuesday 7th November at 36 St Andrew Square, between 3pm - 7:30pm.
Not only do we have GVA coming to outline their revised plans for the Royal Bank of Scotland in Dundas Street, but the City of Edinburgh Council’s Executive Director of Place, Paul Lawrence has accepted our invitation to address us on the Council's latest plans to replace the Picardy Place roundabout with a 3 lane traffic "gyratory".
Like many local residents and other stakeholders, Community Council members were shocked by the short timescales indicated in the September public engagement exercise. In a letter to the City Council's Transport and Environment Committee we called for genuine consultation about the redevelopment of the Picardy Place roundabout site .-as reported in the Broughton Spurtle here. http://www.broughtonspurtle.org.uk/news/picardy-place-reactions
We welcome the Committee response committing to further public engagement on the plans this autumn, but are concerned at reports from last Thursday's meeting that the gyratory plans are now ‘embedded’ into the £60m+ Growth Accelerator Model (GAM) contracts the Council signed with St James Quarter developer TH Real Estate and the Scottish Government in June 2016- see Broughton Spurtle report here http://www.broughtonspurtle.org.uk/news/no-major-rethink-picardy-place . We will be exploring with Paul Lawrence what opportunities for amendment and improvement there are, and will, as far as time permits, allow residents who attend to put questions to him.
At NTBCC's September 11th meeting we welcomed the unanimous decision of the City Council's Development Management sub committee to refuse the application to turn the old Royal High School Building into a hotel, although we were dismayed to learn that the developer intends to appeal. It is likely that this appeal will be heard along with their appeal against the 2015 refusal of the first hotel plan, which is currently on hold. Unfortunately, whilst planning consent has been granted to the much more sympathetic plans to reutilise the old RHS as the new home for the St Marys Music School, the City Council will not be in a position to lease the site to the school until these appeal are either withdrawn or determined.
We also discussed the benefits of a street or group of streets of being part of a residents' association. A residents' association like the Drummond Civic Association or the Fettes Row and Royal Crescent Association will usually have more clout with the City Council or developers than a group of residents- and several either have representatives on the Community Council or send representatives to our meeting on an ad hoc basis , which we much appreciate. The Regent, Royal and Calton Terraces Association was given a slot to present objections at the recent Royal High School hearing, as were NTBCC. We are keen to encourage more streets to form associations, (its not difficult or that time consuming) and can offer assistance to anyone interested in getting an association going. If you would like assistance, or have formed an association, and wish to establish contact with the Community Council, please email our Chair, Ian Mowat at firstname.lastname@example.org .
1 Apologies for Absence
2 Minutes of Meeting of 12 June 2017 and matters arising
4. Licensing - Nick Fraser, Depute Clerk of the Licensing Board, will speak and take questions on liquor licensing.
9. Neighbourhood Partnerships
10. Any Other Business
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ARE VERY WELCOME TO ATTEND THIS MEETING