NTBCC has attended various sessions covering the latest proposals for the scheme, including an open meeting in October hosted by the developers of the St James Quarter and subsequently a meeting with the developers and the NTBCC Planning Sub-committee.
Outline planning permission was granted in 2009 which established the principles of redeveloping the centre for a mix of uses and provided detailed approval for siting, maximum height of buildings, amount of parking etc. Various conditions were attached to this outline consent and further applications have been lodged in late 2014 and in 2015. NTBCC were also invited to the Cockburn Association's Case Study meeting at which the current applications were discussed.
The developer’s schedule is for demolition of the existing centre to start in September 2015 followed by a 3–4 year construction period. Various Compulsory Purchase Orders are being progressed consistent with this. We understand that it is John Lewis’s intention to continue trading through this period. Timing for Picardy Place public realm improvements (which will be handled by the developers) is also being finalised.
The latest NTBCC representation can be viewed here. In summary, NTBCC made comments on:
- Generally supporting the development going ahead.
- Desire to further improve vitality of Leith Street but no objection to removal of Greenside bridge link.
- Concerns over public realm and proposed use of Little King Street for vehicle access for residential apartments given the future, planned relocation of York Place tram stop to Picardy Place.
- Regret absence of offices in latest plans (retail, residential and hotel uses only)
- Support for sustainable development – proposed that design should accommodate change of use of retail to offices or other.
- Questioned extent of concrete panels as proposed for higher level facing materials vs. stone.
- Concerns over impact on local infrastructure and residents during construction.
- Concerns on amount / handling of spoil being removed from the site via Leith Walk.
- Support for maximising future connections between the new St James Square and West Register Square, reiterating strong desire for these associated developments to be planned holistically – maximum connectivity and permeability is vital.