Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s members-only meeting, held via Zoom on Monday 13 April 2020 at 7pm
Actions and decisions are red italic. ND (‘no dissent’) means that no-one spoke or voted against a decision.
1 Technology check and welcome
- The meeting opened online at 6:45 pm to enable all attendees to connect before the start of business.
- C Nimmo noted that while this meeting was members-only, NTBCC intends to run public meetings when it has confidence in the technology and processes.
|Susanna Beaumont||NTBCC||Carol Nimmo||NTBCC chair|
|Mike Birch||NTBCC, RRCTMA||Richard Price||NTBCC secretary|
|David Clarke||NTBCC||Sheila Warnock||NTBCC, Great King St Residents’ Association|
|Jonathan Finn||NTBCC treasurer||Fran Wasoff||NTBCC|
|Stephen Hajducki||NTBCC||Peter Williamson||NTBCC, Picardy Residents’ Association|
|Deirdre Henderson||NTBCC||Bruce Ryan||Minutes secretary|
|Simon Holledge||NTBCC engagement officer||Alan McIntosh||Broughton Spurtle|
|Allan Jack||NTBCC, India St Association||Cllr Jo Mowat||City centre ward|
|James Kilner||NTBCC||Cllr Hal Osler||Inverleith ward|
C Nimmo also noted that Foysol Choudhury had now resigned from NTBCC
1.b Apologies for absence
|Susan Duff||NTBCC||Laura Graham||NTBCC||Stuart McAllister||NTBCC|
2 Minutes of meeting of 9th March and matters arising
The draft minutes were approved subject to various small changes, including noting that lockdown started soon after the March meeting (proposed P Williamson, seconded J Kilner, ND).
2.a Matters arising
- A Jack confirmed that NTBCC will invite Lothian Buses to a meeting when possible, to follow up on the March Q&A – including some questions that weren’t covered at that meeting.
3 Police report
See report in appendix 1.
- C Nimmo noted that this reinforces general messages, but has no information specific to NTBCC’s area.
- Cllr Osler noted that there will no longer be community police officers due to funding issues: general policing will continue but it will not necessarily be organised according to CEC wards and specific local
- She has forwarded a reply from the police about allotments.
- Action: NTBCC to seek clarification as to future police scotland attendance.
See also report in Appendix 2.
4.a Final review of NTBCC response to City Mobility Plan Consultation
- A Jack was thanked for his work on this.
- C Nimmo proposed that the current draft was accepted, possibly with minor changes resulting from this meeting.
- S Holledge asked for inclusion of text recommending electric vehicles.
- M Birch asked for inclusion of text recommending electric buses and delivery vehicles, to minimise emissions. He also asked for NTBCC’s response to recommend that Regent Road is included in the low-emission zone.
- D Clarke asked for more positive language in a few areas to appear more constructive, i.e. instead of ‘we do not support X’, but ‘we support not-X’. He will email detail on this.
- A Jack responded that NTBBCC has used such ‘reasonable’ language for a long time. It now needs to clearly state that the balance is currently very wrong, and that CEC needs to make clear changes.
- D Henderson suggested that any reduction in parking spaces should not affect residents or disabled people; that employment for disabled people should not be discouraged by work-based parking levies; that modelling should cover what would happen to streets surrounding those that are changed – and that such modelling should be published.
- Action: A Jack to incorporate these points.
See report in appendix 3. It was noted that hairdressers etc. offering a glass of wine to customers need to apply for the appropriate licence.
See report in appendix 4.
See report in appendix 5.
- Cllr Mowat noted that
- no planning applications can be advertised until the Scottish Government changes relevant legislation to remove the requirement to do so in public buildings. Hence submitted applications are currently stalled.
- a paper about future CEC governance, including planning, will go to the Leadership Advisory Panel (LAP) next week. This is likely to include provision for a virtual Development Management Sub-committee.
7.a Royal Bank of Scotland site
- R Price noted that information is available on the New Town North website, and that some residents’ comments have been published in the Spurtle.
- J Kilner noted that the current consultation has moved on quite a lot, providing more clear information, and that four main points have arisen in recent conversations with local residents’ groups:
- the proposed height of the building on the corner of Fettes Row and Dundas St is substantially higher than those of other parts
- Ediston has been in ongoing discussions with Historic Environment Scotland, but HES may still have concerns
- if sufficient onsite parking is not provided, it risks the area becoming overwhelmed by cars (especially outside of the current restricted parking times). .
- R Price suggested that the developer is trying to balance the pressures from Council officials to reduce the amount of on-site parking vs. the capacity that the site has (due to the topography/site layout ).
- He added that the virtual presentation approach was good. If there are outstanding questions, he will send a list of these direct to the developers.
- Action: NTBCC members to send him their further questions in the next 2 days.
- A Jack stated that his impression is that there are many planned windows overlooking King George V Park, greatly changing its ambience.
- D Clarke suggested that planting some fast-growing trees might mitigate such overlooking.
- R Price asked whether the Friends of the Park have concerns.
- Action: J Kilner to try to ascertain.
7.b Other points
R Price noted
- very few new applications are coming forward. (One that has is Marshall’s Court – NTBCC has objected to this proposal.)
- the RHS Scottish Government Reporters’ recommendation might be issued to ministers by mid-May – according to the latest updates on the DPEA website.
7.c City Plan 2030: Feedback from NTBCC members as input to final NTBCC response
S Hajducki, D Henderson, Cllr Mowat were thanked for their input here.
- D Henderson, M Birch and S Holledge were concerned that they had not received relevant emails.
- Action: R Price to recirculate these.
- It was noted that the deadline for responses is now 30 April.
- R Price noted that the online consultation has 4 main themes, each with further specific several questions hence overall 16 main sections. He suggested a collaborative approach – assigning initial responsibility for NTBCC’s response to each part to different members.
- He also advocated submitting a response in prose, rather than simple responding to each question.
- He suggested that some of the assumptions underpinning the consultations have been challenged by the current coronavirus situation and this point needs to be addressed in the overall response…
- Cllr Mowat concurred that ‘fate’ had challenged CEC’s ideas, for example raising the question ‘what is the use of the city centre?’
- She suggested that the path forwards on the consultation is now unclear and there will be a further extension to the process, and also noted that National Planning Framework consultation is current.
- Cllr Osler agreed that that coronavirus has raised awareness of other issues around (for example) transport, green space, increased population densities. Hence we need to take time to learn lessons.
- P Williamson concurred that the plan may change, but for now we need to respond to the currently-proposed plan.
- He suggested that the plan is detached from CEC’s current financial position: CEC is necessarily retrenching but the plan is more upbeat than is justified.
- He also suggested that the plan is a hostage because it has no (quantified) outcomes except for housing numbers, giving CEC carte blanche to do what it likes. In many cases it says CEC will carry on as before. Also the current draft doesn’t accord with the level of detail in previous local plans.
- S Hajducki stated that he proposed plan has no basic objective, e.g. ensuring high quality of life, quality of townscape. There should be more measurable outcomes, and these should be joined up. Many envisaged actions are ones that CEC should be doing already.
- Another issue is that many things may have changed post-lockdown, e.g. people may prefer to work at home, so less office-space is needed; tourism may be reduced, especially in the short term. There could be positive outcomes, e.g. less cramped housing, improved health systems, changed employment geography.
- D Clarke asked what the timeframe will be now.
- Cllr Mowat responded timescales will become clearer as matters progress. This consultation is about the Choices for the City Plan, which explains why there is no overarching theme. The next stage is to write the full draft plan, currently due end of summer 2020, followed by a further consultation. However, this timescale depends on how well CEC can function in the near future. The reduced amount of detail is due to instructions from the Scottish Government.
- D Henderson expressed concern for people who can’t use the internet to respond to this consultation. Some drop-in events have been
- Cllr Mowat responded that only one drop-in event (at St Brides) was cancelled. However, loss of access to free IT at libraries is a concern: she is not aware of any contingencies to deal with this. She will check on the numbers of submissions to the consultation pre- and post-lockdown.
- D Henderson asked whether the placemaking-brief process can be used to capture ‘missing’ responses.
- Cllr Mowat noted that such briefs are created separately from local plans. Placemaking briefs are created by close work with communities to focus on local needs etc.
- Cllr Osler added that each consultation misses a mass of people. However, consultations need central (digital) data-collection-points. Also, this is an overarching piece, then local placemaking capture more people’s opinions.
- Unfortunately there is not budget for community education staff to reach out to the ‘missing’ people.
- Also ‘City Plan 2030’ is required by the government. This consultation has been simplified to make it easier to respond to, but this may have lost some detail. Much effort is being made to involve, e.g. school-pupils. Also, no-one has to answer all questions.
Action: C Nimmo, R Price, S Beaumont, D Clarke, P Williamson, D Henderson, M Birch volunteered to be on subcommittee to create NTBCC’s response by the end of April 2020.
See report in appendix 6.
- C Nimmo thanked S Holledge for his collation of information on neighbourhood support groups.
- S Holledge noted his aspiration for a resurgence of residents’ associations, and resulting potential benefits for CCs.
- Concerning Lord Moray Feuars’ work to register with CEC, and hence be represented on NTBCC:
- S Holledge has heard nothing new
- Action: B Ryan and D Clarke to check with their contacts about this.
9 NTBCC AGM and future NTBCC meetings during lockdown
- C Nimmo noted that the AGM would normally take place in May but proposed that it should be deferred until Septembers 2020. However, the annual report would be prepared for May.
- J Finn reminded convenors to submit their sections of the report in the next two weeks.
- Decision: the above was agreed .
- It was noted that there has been no update to CEC’s communication about CC online meetings.
- Cllr Osler noted that none of her other CCs have met. She anticipated better guidance when CEC has worked out how it will e-meet. She noted the importance of having a functioning democracy at all times, and expressed concern about how communities can input to CEC during lockdown. She will now tell her other CCs how NTBCC has met.
- Cllr Mowat added that Leith Central CC has met via Zoom, and that Old Town CC will soon do so. She noted that she is working on CEC governance matters, and the centralisation that has happened within CEC.
- She will ascertain how CCs and communities can be empowered by CEC to continue their work during lockdown
- It was proposed that NTBCC’s next on-screen meeting is open to the public.
- Decision: this was agreed.
- It was noted that NTBCC often makes decision by consensus rather than voting
10 Parks and green spaces
- R Price noted that NTBCC had been informed of many events over Easter and the summer. He suggested that communications around parks and green spaces had been good of late.
- March and April events have now been cancelled. Cancellation of May and June events has not yet been decided.
- R Price added that NTBCC is keen to learn what might happen in August/Autumn.
- S Holledge noted that the Summer Sessions have not (yet) been cancelled, and tickets are still on sale online.
- C Nimmo noted that there are decisions pending about East and West Princes St Gardens, and expressed some concern that decisions which NTBCC would not welcome might be made by the centralised CEC process (LAP) now operating.
- Cllr Osler noted that much CEC work has been delayed. She has received queries about potential removal by the police of the trim-trail in Inverleith Park. It appears that there has been some miscommunication around what is permitted under lockdown, e.g. about the trim-trail and also allotments.
- Cllr Mowat noted that controversial applications will not go through CEC’s Leadership Advisory Panel: Consultation and determination will happen essentially as normal via CEC’s committees.
- A McIntosh suggested that licensing should be similarly carefully monitored.
- R Price suggested cautions about further retrospective permissions being needed for Princes St Gardens (especially the delayed Edinburgh Christmas planning application) due to pressure from commercial bodies. Hence applications and due process are needed sooner rather than later.
- Cllr Mowat noted that work on how to carry on licensing governance is in progress.
11 Local residents’ associations
- See also section 8 above.
- It was noted that work is in progress to confirm the Drummond Civic Association to be represented on NTBCC, and that efforts are being made to revitalize the Gayfield Association.
12 Any other business
Appendix 1: Police report (received by email 2020_04_13)
Ultimately we are operating under the new legislation and Government guidelines who have decreed whether allotments should be open or not will remain a local authority matter as you are aware as per the below link: https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/file/27173/allotment-sites-covid-19
I am not aware of the specific incident you mention below regarding Inverleith allotments however the key message we have been putting out to the public is from Government guidelines which is:
- stay at home
- only go outside for essential food, health and work reasons
- stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people
- wash your hands regularly
- wash your hands as soon as you get home
We are very much taking the approach of the 4 E’s which are:
- Engage: ask whether an individual is aware of the government request; establish individual circumstances and how quickly someone can comply
- Explain: the risks to public health and to the NHS in line with government guidance
- Encourage: voluntary compliance
- Enforce: if faced with non-compliance and only as a last resort.
The following is a useful link on the police’s approach to COVID-19: https://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/covid-19-policescotlandresponse/frequently-asked-questions
As it currently stands, allotments remain open in Edinburgh however with the proviso that there is only one trip per day, maintain social distancing and wash your hands frequently. This is especially important after touching anything such as gates and standpipe taps. Ultimately Government guidance is to remain inside with exception to only going outside for food, health and work reasons. This is a common sense approach when it comes to allotments as this is obviously for exercise and food and we would deal with each matter separately. The main concern would be keeping apart from other persons, not meeting up with persons from other households, not travelling far distances and to ensure only leaving their house when essential. The guidance is very much for everyone’s health benefits.
I hope the above covers what you are looking for. Hopefully the restrictions won’t remain in place for too long and we can start enjoying the summer as it comes along!
If you have any queries though, please do not hesitate to get in touch and please pass on our best wishes at your meeting.
Community Police, E Division, Police Scotland
West End Police Station, Edinburgh, Tel 0131 221 2088
Appendix 2: Transport report
Kerbside (on-street) secure cycle storage is proposed for NTBCC’s area on Bellevue Road, Claremont Crescent and East London St, (two ‘pods’ each) – see CEC downloads for details (search on SEC site for ‘downloads cycle storage’) – feedback is being sought in these streets by 4 May.
Also 2 ‘pods’ on St Stephen’s St. (just outside NTBCC’s area)
City Mobility Plan
draft response is circulated with meeting papers – submission by 30 April latest.
Allan 13 April
Appendix 3: Licensing report
The Licensing Board did not meet in March, so the applications for the new St James Centre were not considered. I assume they will be carried forward to the next meeting, whenever and however that is held.
This month there is a provisional application for a hairdresser at 62 North Castle Street to sell alcohol. This seems to be an unusual application but I see no reason to object.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 has made some changes to the way licensing works during this period. The most relevant seems to be that any licensed premises that usually serves food is now able to offer a take-away and home delivery service, whether or not this was what it used to do. I am unclear whether this will now be assumed forever, or just during the lockdown period. We might need to clarify this when things get back to normal.
Jonathan Finn, 10 April
Appendix 4 Planning report
From Edinburgh Council website: The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill was passed on 6 April, and has further implications for the planning service. The key changes are
- planning permission that would otherwise lapse in the next 6 months will be extended by 1 year
- the Bill removes the duty requiring public authorities to physically publish or publicise documents (e.g. be available from Waverley Court or libraries)
- the Bill itself does not change statutory requirements in relation to site notices or neighbour notification – this issue is under consideration by the Scottish Government (& expected to be waived in the short term)
- the requirement for at least one public event as part of pre-application consultation for major and national developments may be suspended temporarily – this issue is under consideration by the Scottish Government (but not likely to have an impact for forthcoming applications in NTBCC’s area)
- changes to decision making powers, such as the scheme of delegation, that require Scottish Government approval, will be processed as a matter of priority.
There seems to be a strong desire from both the Scottish Government & Edinburgh Council to ensure that developments can continue to progress during this period.
Further update (1 April) as preface to Weekly Lists: You may have noticed that there are very few items on this week’s list. Some of you may be aware from the Planning Blog that we are not able to carry out the necessary publicity on applications submitted as required by the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 due to the Covid -19 restrictions. This means at this time we have suspended site notices, adverts and neighbour notifications and the weekly list will only include those applications which do not require publicity or neighbour notification such as certificates of lawfulness and advert consent. We have not updated the weekly list template but for clarity, please note the following:
- The public office at Waverley Court is not open and plans cannot be viewed there
- There is no planning help desk service but if you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please do not send in paper comments as they will not be received by the officer.
Applications where the comments due by date finished by 20 March will be processed in the normal way if they can be delegated under the Council’s Scheme of Delegation. Council leaders are looking at how we deal with Committee business. Officers are home working and can respond to emails.”
There was a discussion at the inaugural CEC Leadership Advisory Panel (LAP) on merits of having a virtual Development Management Committee but this was rejected in favour of key decisions being taken by the LAP as required – although exactly how this may work is still unclear.
RBS site (Dundas St. / Fettes Row)
Final Public Information session held online on Thursday 9 April – 10 slide presentation pack still available for perusal (http://www.newtownnorth.co.uk/public-consultation) and summarised in the Spurtle (with comments).
General view seems to be that this is an improvement vs. the previous scheme & that considerable discussions have taken place with CEC & Historic Environment Scotland to underpin the development form / height adjacent to Royal Crescent.
The online consultation on 9 April (with ‘Click for More Information’ tabs didn’t work for some so intent is for NTBCC to submit any questions by email to the agents asap.
A separate /CON application (20/00705/CON) to demolish the fire-damaged cottage abutting KGV park western edge (7 Eyre Terrace) has been approved but still expect a wider /CON (‘Demolition in a Conservation Area’) application to be lodged in the coming months along with the planning application.
The justification for complete demolition of all buildings on site will be interesting – especially the lower reaches of Dundas St.
Powderhall Development – Bowling Green area – Nursery / Inter-Generational Living
No further news on proposed development – but expect a planning application for the Bowling Green (Nursery etc.) to be lodged soon if the facility is expected to be operational in August 2021.
East Princes Street Gardens (Underbelly)
Simon’s recent email stated the Evening News understands that a full planning application is due to be submitted “very soon” following the final stages of an Environmental Impact Assessment, requested by Edinburgh City Council which caused the delay. The assessment will look at the positive and negative impact of the structure, including impact on flora and fauna as well as human health and socio-economic impact. Due to its status as a major application, it is unlikely to be approved or refused until after the COVID-19 crisis is finished.
Information from the planning agent handling this stated that their intention is to submit a planning application before the end of April, with determination not expected until the end of August at the earliest. They are closely monitoring the situation regarding the Council’s decision making function (which is continually evolving). They then state that if the Council’s temporary measures are still in force at the time of determination, then the planning application will have to be progressed on that basis.
I think the concern with all of this is that it is likely that economic pressures may come into play with Edinburgh Council such that decisions are taken using their emergency processes (i.e. via the Leadership Advisory Panel)….
However, in the short term, NTBCC should await the application & (per normal processes), submit their representation on the basis of what is lodged.
Current Applications Under Assessment
7 – 8 Baxter’s Place
Application lodged for conversion of the current premises to a 16 rooms hotel (19/01300/FUL & 19/01301/LBC) (Proposed change of use from sui generis (Flats) to Class 7 (Hotel) with Internal and external alterations) both refused (‘detrimental impact on the amenity of adjoining neighbouring residents by virtue of noise and disturbance caused by the operations associated with the use’).
Revised application for SGN works in Bellevue Crescent (19/04527/FUL)
Following the submission of a retrospective application for the works (which CEC indicated would not be granted) & despite information suggesting that SGN had been asked to submit a lower impact scheme, no further news on this – status “Awaiting assessment”.
Revised application for WPSG Shelters (20/00569/FUL & 20/00570/LBC)
‘External alterations including removal of timber fascia’s to reveal original concrete cantilevered roofs, installation of glazing to existing window openings and installation of glazed doors within existing shelters at West Princes Street Gardens (Resubmission related to 19/05353/FUL)’ approved.
121 Princes St (20/00491/FUL)
‘Change of use and redevelopment of existing retail unit (Class 1) to form additional hotel rooms (Class 7) and restaurant (Class 3) at ground floor level’ approved.
Adjacent Premier Inn extending further into soon to be vacant New Look retail unit.
100 Princes St – Formerly the Royal Overseas House (20/00390/CLP)
‘Proposed use as a Hotel within Class 7 of the Use Classes Order 1997 at Overseas House’ approved – understood to be Red Carnation Hotels taking it on (‘The luxury hotel collection has announced plans to respectfully renovate 100 Princes Street, transforming it into a highly exclusive retreat on Edinburgh’s most famous street’).
5 – 6 Marshall’s Court (20/00486/FUL)
‘Development of 26 new residential flats, cycle parking provision, associated works and infrastructure.’ NTBCC objection submitted in March – along with RRCTMA, AHSS and several residents (27 objections in total). NTBCC seems to have been treated as a statutory consultee & hence representation published on the Planning portal.
Some updated documents lodged on the Planning portal (assumed to be in response to Planning officer’s request) but still ‘Awaiting Assessment’.
Current Applications Open for Comments
Given the limited types of new applications being permitted – there are no new applications of note.
Despite yet further delays – latest update (stated as 18 March) states ‘The report and recommendations are being finalised and is expected to be submitted to Scottish Ministers during April.’
There have been several extensions to the date for submission of the report but feel that the Reporters must be getting close…..
Although initial views were that this wouldn’t be announced publicly, other Inquiry’s have announced when the report has been submitted to Scottish Ministers. How long the Scottish Government will take is anyone’s guess. From memory – the cut-off date for Duddingston / Urbanist to achieve planning permission is March 2021 (which is getting closer by the minute).
Following announcement of an agreement being struck between Edinburgh St James & IMPACT Scotland, expectation is that a new application will be lodged in the coming months. I also saw a report that Edinburgh Council has spent £30k on legal fees defending their position.
There was a recent application from them (actually submitted by the Royal Bank of Scotland) to demolish wall between the RBS car park at Dundas House and Elder Street to provide access for IMPACT. However, this was not associated with any new application – rather the timing of this related to time periods laid out in existing access agreements held by the Bank which requires the wall to be taken down before the end of May.
IMPACT Scotland also stated that they are still at a very early stage of the redesign of Dunard Centre. They appreciated NTBCC’s input and support during the previous application process and will be seeking opportunities to consult and present to NTBCC again once revised plans are available.
Richard, 13 April 2020
Appendix 6: Engagement report
A total of 33 NTBCC meeting notices have now been displayed, distributed around our area. They are (as far as possible) mapped for eventual removal and replacement (or stickering?).
I compiled a list of 18 neighbourhood support groups, mainly organized by residents associations (RAs), now on the NTBCC website. This was also an opportunity to renew contacts with the following RAs: Central New Town Association (CENTA), Fettes Row and Royal Crescent Residents Association, Heriot Row Association, Lord Moray Feu, Northumberland and Nelson Street Association, and Powderhall Village Owners’ Association. Laura Graham and Susan Duff are proposing a possible rehabilitation of the Gayfield Association.
Community councillor video conferencing training sessions were held with volunteers, first on 14 March and 18 March with Webex, and then on 19 March and 23 March with Zoom.
The Communications/Engagement Committee meeting scheduled for 3 March was cancelled as members were unavailable. A virtual Zoom meeting was held on 30 March. The meeting rejected a proposal to do selective trial leafletting of one or two streets apparently lacking in neighbourhood support groups.
The Four City Centre Community Councils and the Cockburn Association met by Zoom on 24 March. (Carol Nimmo attended.) The Five City Centre Community Councils (5CCCC) will meet by Zoom, hosted by the Cockburn Association, on 15 April. (The 5th member is Southside Community Council). Each community council will have two representatives. This will be an opportunity for an update on city centre council business by Terry Levinthal, followed by a discussion of community council issues in the context of the epidemic.
Simon Holledge, 13 April 2020