NTBCC minutes – Monday 9 November 2015

Minutes of the ordinary meeting of New Town and Broughton Community Council, held in the Drummond Room, Broughton St Mary’s Church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 9 November 2015 at 7.30pm

1 Attendance and apologies for absence

1.1 Present

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Richard Price NTBCC
Audrey Cavaye NTBCC Christine Ross NTBCC
Judy Conn NTBCC Alan Welsh NTBCC
Iain McGill NTBCC Bruce Ryan minutes secretary
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Ian Blackley resident
Lynn Henni NTBCC Caroline Roussot resident
Jack Hugh NTBCC Cllr Alasdair Rankin City Centre ward
Allan Jack NTBCC Cllr Lewis Ritchie Leith Walk ward
Ian Mowat NTBCC Cllr Marion Donaldson Leith Walk ward
Carol Nimmo NTBCC William Gray Muir Royal High School Preservation Trust
Lewis Press NTBCC Alan McIntosh Broughton Spurtle

1.2 Apologies

Jonathan Finn NTBCC Cllr Nick Gardner Leith Walk ward

2 Minutes of Meetings of 12 October 2015

2.1 Approval

Approved (proposed L Henni, seconded I Mowat) subject to:

  • Making clearer L Henni’s request that Police Scotland ‘consider running a high-profile week-long campaign against rogue cyclists (item 4 – police report)
  • Stating that the RBS site is not actually within (but directly adjacent to) the Edinburgh World Heritage site boundary (item 14.6 – planning report)
  • Stating that Allan Jack (Transport convenor) reported the residents’ associations comments in item 9 – transport

2.2 Matters arising


3 Police report

No Police representative, hence no report

4 Update from Willie Gray Muir regarding the St Mary’s Music School proposal for the RHS site

Mr Gray Muir (WGM) made the following points, either in his main presentation or in response to questions

  • The contract between the developers of the proposed hotel and Edinburgh Council (CEC) would fall if planning permission was refused. The site could be sold to RHSPT if they demonstrate clear public benefit.
  • The RHS Preservation Trust (RHSPT) was set up in April 2015. WGM presented their initial views to NTBCC in May 2015.
  • It appointed Richard Murphy as architect in September 2015.
  • RHSPT’s intention is to submit a planning application , probably at the end of November 2015 before the Development Management Sub-committee consideration on the proposed hotel application in mid December 2015.)
  • RHSPT has 5 principles
    • Conservation of the Thomas Hamilton building
    • Protecting its setting
    • Economically sustainable use of the site
    • Culturally suitable use of the site
    • Public use of the site (because it’s a public building).
  • Hence RHSPT envisages four key changes for the site
    • An exemplary school, supporting St Mary’s Music School and expanding its outreach
    • The school proposal to include 3 new public performance spaces
    • The western playground becoming a new publically accessible garden
    • Public realm improvements to Regent Road to improve the setting of the RHS buildings..
  • WGM stated that RHSPT’s proposals, if implemented, will be fully funded by the Dunard Fund.
  • A major change to the plans since May is a proposed new foyer (15 feet from floor to ceiling) underneath the new assembly hall. This would help fulfil public access requirements. This location for the foyer would be better than others, being multi-use, having no impact on outside views with possibly an egress to a terrace with views of Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat etc.
  • The foyer would have new stairs and lifts to the existing main assembly hall, and would enable the hall to be purely a performance space. The original door and stairs to balconies would be reinstated. The hall would have seating for around 250 people.
  • Concerning acoustics, it would be very easy to engineer the foyer and the library to have good acoustics. The main hall would be more challenging but RHSPT has taken on a suitable firm to work on this issue.
  • RHSPT’s plans have been well received by the Edinburgh Urban Design Panel with a report becoming available in the coming weeks..
  • The main intervention housing the school accommodation and practice spaces would be behind the existing buildings: a single story on the east side (on the site of the existing gymnasium building and dining hall..
  • Regent Road would be reconfigured to have a pedestrian space between the school and the current central barriers. Traffic would still go along the other side. There would be railings separating the pedestrian and vehicular spaces. Police Scotland have stated that the presence of people at the school may well discourage ‘boy-racers’ on Regent Terrace. (At this point, Calton Hill’s somewhat unsavoury reputation was mentioned as a possible issue. However, it was stated that there is now an adopted management plan for Calton Hill which should to diminish such issues.)
  • Behind that would be the public but secure section, i.e. the foyer and terrace.
  • Behind that would be the private school entrance, and the school buildings. The latter would be locked off when appropriate to avoid intrusion. However, the proximity of school and performance would allow pupils to see top-level performances in the performance area. Also, the school buildings would be used for performances during holidays, thus providing income for the establishment and enabling wider public access..
  • The school would have 50 practice rooms, gathered into hubs, which would be aligned to the existing TH octagonal cupulae. The residential functions would be below the practice rooms. (The school building would be larger in volume than the existing buildings in this area, but would have much less impact due to their lower height..
  • While the buildings that would be demolished are category A listed, Historic Scotland would permit their demolishment if this was essential to the whole site’s future.
  • One potential disadvantage of moving the school to the RHS site is that currently choristers from the school sing at the cathedral near to the current site. WGM acknowledged that transport of choristers would need to be reorganised, using buses and dedicated members of staff.
  • Deliveries to the school would be via Regent Terrace

It was suggested that because the site is of national importance, RHSPT should build good relations with MSPs and the Scottish Government.

5 Transport

5.1 Parking Action Plan (PAP)

A Jack (Transport convenor) thanked CC members for their comments on his response to the draft PAP. He has spoken with the relevant CEC project officer, who said that CEC will develop better proposals, and that there will be an opportunity next Easter to comment on these. NTBCC has tried to focus on a few key principles, and would test whatever CEC devises against these.

J Hugh had represented NTBCC at a CC focus group on the draft PAP. (He passed the £40 he was paid for this to NTBCC.) At this FG, delegates were asked for opinions on options for matters such as shared-use parking bays, Sunday parking controls, evening parking controls, visitors’ parking permits. A report on the FG will be published – this would inform the next version of the PAP to go to CEC.

5.2 George Street

I Mowat reported that the design process is continuing and the results of the process should be published soon. A Welsh reported speaking with Alan Hutcheon who assured AW that CEC officials working on George St, St James etc are communicating with each other.

5.3 Roseburn to Leith cycle path

AW reported that documents pertaining to this cycle path contain great detail about George St, including removal of the central parking spaces. The plans for the cycle path are in public consultation, and a public exhibition is due before NTBCC’s next meeting. (A Jack will report on the exhibition then.)

6 Licensing

6.1 New applications

  • 96 Hanover Street (currently an empty unit just down from Hendersons). The building above looks almost derelict. The proposal is for a licensed café including recorded music, with normal licensed-premises opening hour, a take-away business, and an intention to serve breakfast from 7:30am. No significant issues were highlighted by NTBCC.

6.2 Variations applications

  • 18 Eyre Place (New Quarter [was Pierre Victoire), to have live music, to open earlier, (i.e. from 8am [closing hours unchanged], to host club/group meetings, receptions and outdoor drinking, serve takeaways.
    • NTBCC wanted to ensure that the licence being requested for 18 Eyre Place was consistent with other licences in the immediate area e.g. the Roamin’ Nose.
    • Regarding their table licence, 10pm is the standard end time across Edinburgh. NTBCC did not believe that there are sufficient grounds to justify objecting to this. There have been previous concerns expressed by residents in Eyre Crescent as noise echoes around the crescent.
    • There have been no concerns expressed by NTBCC or residents about live music or club meetings.
    • Overall – NTBCC agreed an objection would not be appropriate at this stage.
  • 55 Rose Street (Rose Street Brewery), to open from 9am (11am on Sundays), to host televised live performances, recorded music, receptions, club meetings; all starting from 7am, to have more street tables, and to allow accompanied children until 10:30pm. The last date for objection was 9 November.

It was suggested that CEC should provide better information on variation applications, including neighbour notifications, similar to those used in planning applications.

7 Environment

C Ross reported that CEC has not provided information this month. A Welsh noted the current changes in domestic recycling and refuse collection – the new system for what should be put in red and blue recycling boxes appears to be very complicated. It was noted that such systems are in flux, and that communications have been confusing. Meanwhile, according to R Price, recycling is not being collected, on-street bins are full and there is lack of governance/enforcement.

C Ross responded that CEC has issues around budget for recycling/refuse collection, trucks, staffing, and has acknowledged this. If citizens tell them of problems, they will respond. L Press stated that CEC’s recycling/refuse collection system is coming apart, that this may be due to street cleaning (run by Neighbourhood Teams) and waste services (run centrally) being run by different CEC structures, and that the forthcoming change to localities may be an opportunity to bring them together. (Cllr Rankin stated that CEC official David Lyon has oversight of these two functions.)

It was questioned whether decentralisation of such services provided benefits. Cllr Ritchie stated that such decentralisation gives communities a stronger say about them. I Mowat stated that NTBCC is considering a public meeting about these services, and so is trying to find out which CEC officials should be at such a meeting.

C Nimmo noted that CEC is taking over recycling services from a private company from 27 November, and suggested that CEC should be given a little time to bed down such services.

8 Planning

8.1 St James quarter

R Price and I Mowat had attended a communications session with the SJ developers, at which it was reported that everything is on track for closure and demolition of the SJ centre after Christmas. RP stated that there is an issue around removal of material from the demolition. Material is currently planned to be removed via Broughton Street and Ferry Road (rather than via Leith Walk) based on comments from CEC. RP suggested that this may not be ideal, but that it may be connected with delayed progress on Leith Walk repairs.

RP also reported that plans include relocating the York Place tram stop/terminus to Picardy Place as part of the public realm works by the SJ developer, and that the full set of works is scheduled to finish in 2020. RP stated that the intent would be to barrier off one carriageway on Leith Street to enable the demolition works. RP also reported that it has been agreed that John Lewis will continue to trade throughout the works.

It was suggested that the developers should be asked to report regularly to NTBCC, and provide a look-ahead to major works planned over the coming period.



8.2 Royal High School

CEC’s development management committee will consider the hotel application on 17 December. This meeting will be live-streamed. NTBCC will attend, working with Regent, Royal and Carlton Terraces Association. (RRCTA) and other heritage bodies.

8.3 Royal Bank of Scotland site

RP reported that there had been an initial consultation about a month ago, asking for input. A pre-application notification (PAN) has now been lodged. There will be an exhibition on 26 November (3pm–8pm) in Broughton St Mary’s Church.

A Welsh expressed concern about access to the site, suggesting that there is currently only one access route, that development will require extra access routes and that NTBCC should consider where these should be. RP suggested that that NTBCC had suggested that a new access should be via Dundas St. The developers also plan a further final consultation , and noted that there will be a follow-up consultation probably early in 2016 and acknowledged that the developers are trying hard to engage with the community.

8.4 Canonmills

RP reported that the developer has appealed the planning decision. NTBCC will work with Stockbridge and Inverleith CC etc to see what further representations could be made. RP suggested that CEC’s approach to this application since 2008 appears inconsistent. C Nimmo suggested that this may have occurred because priorities have changed over time.

8.5 Consultations etc

There are currently consultations on developers’ contributions to affordable housing, the Leith town centre supplementary guidance, student housing. There is also the Scottish Government’s review of the planning process. (RP believes that 3rd party right of appeal should be raised here.) Planning Aid Scotland is organising events about this. (See http://www.ntbcc.org.uk/review-of-the-scottish-planning-system-your-chance-to-speak.) SG is also organising a Cities Convention on 13 November 2015 in Perth. (See http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/Cities.)

I Mowat will attend a meeting for CCs and street associations hosted by Edinburgh World Heritage.

9 Neighbourhood Partnerships

L Henni will attend the next NP meeting.

10 Edinburgh Association of Community Councils

L Press reported receiving an email requesting postponement of the next EACC AGM. He suggested that NTBCC should withdraw from EACC because it not fit for purpose, and that CCs should make their own contacts with each other, NPs etc. Decision: withdrawal or otherwise to be decided at next NTBCC business meeting.

11 Activities of Local Street or Amenity Associations

A Welsh reported that a long time ago Lord Morays’ Feuars had contacted the UN about traffic and related pollution, using the Aarhus convention. (See http://ec.europa.eu/environment/aarhus and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aarhus_Convention[1].) Now the UN may attack the UK’s environmental record using this example.

A Welsh reported that the road surface of Frederick Street is still very poor. I Mowat reported that Cllr Mowat has not yet been able to take action on this.

12 Any Other Business

B Ryan reported that while he has started building a mailing list using MailChimp, he has ceased work on this until data protection issues due to the failure of SafeHarbor are solved. (See http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2015/october/eu-us-data-transfers-invalid-if-made-under-safe-harbour-regime-rules-eu-court for example.)

[1] This grants the public rights regarding access to information, public participation and access to justice, in governmental decision-making processes on matters concerning the local, national and transboundary environment. It focuses on interactions between the public and public authorities, according to Wikipedia.