NTBCC March meeting agenda – UPDATE

As well as the normal items, the agenda includes a presentation and Q & A on the revised hotel proposal for the former Royal High School by Duddingston House Properties and Urbanist Hotels development team – see planning application 17/00588/FUL. with representatives from Urbanist Hotels, Hoskins Architects and Sorrell Associates.

In addition, given the various news items on the proposed closure of Leith Street (between Waterloo Place and Calton Road) which is scheduled for discussion at next weeks Edinburgh Council Transport & Environment Committee, we will also be hearing from Donald Anderson (who is working with Henderson Global regarding the St James Centre) about the justification and background to the proposed closure of Leith Street for 44 weeks, starting after this year's Edinburgh Festival. More details can be found here.

 

 

NTBCC minutes – Monday 8 February 2015

1 Attendance and apologies for absence

1.1 Present

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary
Audrey Cavaye NTBCC secretary Cllr Lewis Ritchie Leith Walk ward
Judy Conn NTBCC Ian Blackley Resident
Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer Pim Boomguard Resident
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Andrew Haddow Resident
Lynn Henni NTBCC vice-chair Ian Lutton Resident
Jack Hugh NTBCC Claire Miller Resident
Allan Jack NTBCC transport convenor Molly Miller Resident
Ian Mowat NTBCC chair John Raven Resident
Carol Nimmo NTBCC Caroline Roussot Resident
Lewis Press NTBCC environment convenor Lama Said Student
Richard Price NTBCC planning convenor Maria Tzeli Resident
Alan Welsh NTBCC Alan McIntosh Broughton Spurtle

1.2 Apologies for absence

Richard Corral NTBCC Cllr Lesley Hinds Inverleith ward Police Scotland
Iain McGill NTBCC Cllr Joanna Mowat City Centre ward Tomek Borkowy Universal Arts Festival
Chrissie Ross NTBCC Cllr Alasdair Rankin City Centre ward

2 Minutes of Meeting of 14 December 2015 and matters arising

Approved subject to correcting minor typos (proposed A Welsh, seconded J Conn, nem con)

3 Presentation by Universal Arts Festival Ltd who run the New Town Theatre in the Masonic Hall of their plans for outdoor performance areas and bar on George St in Edinburgh Fringe 2016

See also event plan. Gilly Bain (event manager) and Guy Byron (producer) of UAF Ltd presented as follows:

  • This will be UAF’s second year operating outside the Theatre, but UAF has operated in the New Town for 26 years, also running the Hillside Theatre for almost a decade. UAF is based in Edinburgh, is attached to its community and brings in performers who fit the New Town’s culture, children and drama appreciators.
  • A statue installed at the Masonic Hall 2 years ago took up the foyer, so audiences congregated in the street, so UAF wanted to activate this space beneficially while still bringing international theatre to Edinburgh.
  • The Theatre sells 20 to 30,000 tickets each year (= 800-1000 per day) to patrons of all ages. So UAF does not intend a ‘festival bar’ but a space in keeping with George Street’s ethos, including a ‘sit-ootery’/beer garden and performance spaces to showcase theatre shows and Scottish bands, a bar, toilets, back of house. Revenue from these will support community theatre events. There will be spaces for visitors who do not wish to buy drinks, food etc.
  • Lessons from 2015 include being more family friendly, providing higher quality Scottish food vendors, another free stage, a free childrens’ theatre. Also, UAF will improve on 2015’s less than optimal pedestrian crossing places. Hence the space will be bigger than in 2015 but more aesthetically pleasing overall.
  • Licensing is agreed with Edinburgh Council (CEC) via a rigorous process, but working closely with Essential Edinburgh and the Assembly Rooms.
  • There will be a 4m by 4m bike lane through both sides, to ensure pedestrians, cyclists and delivery trucks are safe (i.e. no cars, deliveries only in mornings through 1 bike lane). Signage will warn cyclists to slow.
  • Waste disposal will include daily cleanups by ChangeWorks at back and ensuring bins do not overflow.
  • Plans for disabled access are in progress: 2015’s electric ramps will not be repeated but UAF may install a ramp into the theatre.
  • Employment will include 15 front-of-house staff, 8 bar-staff, 10 technicians, 32 outdoor team members and 9 security staff. Almost all will be recruited from Edinburgh and paid the living wage where possible.

Some NTBCC members expressed concerns that:

  • this scheme uses public space for private profit
  • amplified noise and taking up public space last year made George Street unpleasant and this scheme, despite some improvement, was likely to do so again.
  • While it is good that the space will be set up and de-rigged in short times, that the space will be tacky.

Other NTBCC members commended the UAF on taking on board the criticisms they had received from last years’ street operation and welcomed innovations such as the proposed family friendly space, free children’s theatre and signage encouraging cycles to slow down to enable pedestrians to cross to the outdoor performance space.

4 Police

Operational requirements prevented the Police representative from attending, but he emailed the following:
3 reported house break-ins, 2 reported business break-ins, 11 reported assaults (4 solved), 2 reported serious assaults (both solved).

Cllr Ritchie noted that he had met the new Chief Superintendent and pointed out that CC appreciate communication such as the above. The CS will ensure this message is spread through his division.

5 Presentation from Bilfinger GVA on their proposal to develop the Royal Bank of Scotland site at Eyre Terrace/Dundas Street

Caroline Knutsford of GVA and Matthew Ansell of Michael Laird architects presented as follows:

  • RBS plans residential-led mixed use of this site.
  • The plans are at pre-application stage – permission in principle will be applied for probably in April.
  • There were public consultations in September and November 2015 – feedback from these is now being reviewed. There will be a final public consultation at Broughton St Mary’s church on 25 February.
  • Aims include a townscape that retains the original New Town edge-wall and its trees and slope, connecting spaces to the cycle network, respecting boundaries, keeping a secluded feel to the park
  • Changes to the original designs include a more simplistic design, fewer pavilion buildings towards Fettes Row, more space for trees, a through route to the park. The walls on Royal Crescent would remain (exactly how still is being worked out) as a reminder that this is edge of the New Town.
  • The development would have about 350 housing units. The buildings to be created may be 1 storey higher than the current ones, but they would ‘step’ back and be set back off from the façade.
  • Pavilion blocks would be lozenge-shaped to allow better views, e.g. of the park from Dundonald St, revealing the New Town. The semi-circular area adjacent to the park has not yet been fully designed.
  • There would be modest public space/through-route off Dundas St. There will also be pedestrian access from Dundonald St via a simple gate.
  • Parking would be underground (300 to 400 spaces), under the pavilion buildings. Car use would be dispersed during day-times due to the site’s residential use. (128 cars per hour at peak times.) Deliveries and emergency services would access the development from Henderson Row/Eyre Terrace.
  • There will not be creep/loss of public space without a brand-new application. There will be an environmental statement showing the maximum massing, and a landscape strategy document setting out design principals, covering such matters. The developers plan to maximise the site’s potential – this is not a quick, easy application.
  • Shapes and sizes of the pavilion buildings has evolved due to mixed feedback from the consultations. The new plan would use less area than the previous version.
  • It was suggested that higher blocks at the site’s edge might be more affected by weather, and that stepped blocks might hence be better. The response was that the north blocks would need to be bigger, hence affecting the park.
  • Smaller blocks will be used for affordable housing – a 25% condition is imposed.
  • How the site will be sold by RBS depends upon interest – it may be sold in one lot or in sections.
  • It was noted that 15 Royal Crescent is subsiding visibly. There will be an engineering assessment – engineers will be at the next public consultation.

6 Environment

NTBCC’s environment committee (EC) has found systemic problems with waste disposal mostly due to failures in awareness and communication. (See full report in Appendix 1 [updated version on NTBCC website].) The main issues are

  • trade waste, especially in the city centre. The scheme of registered trade waste bins introduced 8 months ago is not being enforced, there are many new trade waste bins and too few environmental wardens.
  • domestic waste (everywhere).This is collected by CEC’s Waste Services team, which is not in the same CEC section as the environment wardens and street cleaners. There is lack of monitoring – WS are often surprised when missed waste collections are reported.
  • street cleaning/fly-tipping. EC is not yet sure how street-cleaning is managed.

The EC intends to meet with CEC’s head of environment to tackle these issues.

Cllr Ritchie reported that there is a list of council-adopted pavements. Action: Cllr Richie to forward this list to NTBCC. This is in response to A Welsh reporting that Heriot Row’s pavement has 3 years’ accumulated jetsam.

Cllr Ritchie acknowledged that such problems are city-wide, and agreed that waste collection is not currently fit for purpose. He has not yet had a response from the head of WS but intends to meet with him, along with EC convenor. He reported that ‘barrow-beat runs’ (major arterial routes) are swept regularly but others are swept according to demand, that there are not enough wardens, and that wardens are now concentrating on littering and dog-mess due to complaints from residents – hence causing slippage in trade waste issues. He confirmed that there are problems with physical infrastructure, relevant budgets and people dropping litter. He has contacted Camelot because lottery scratch cards form a significant part of litter.

A Welsh commended community pick-ups.

A McIntosh reported that street cleaning and waste services will be merged.

Residents noted that red and blue recycling boxes are collected at different times, and suggested that this was inefficient – sometimes some boxes are missed. However, L Henni noted that green on-street bins are now being emptied, admittedly after many complaints. A Jack suggested that reducing the amount of waste is essential, so that build-ups do not occur, and that bigger bins encourage more waste.

It was suggested that parking wardens and refuse collectors should report refuse problems encountered during their rounds, but Cllr Ritchie stated that refuse collectors are already over-worked.

L Press noted that domestic waste crews collecting the large on-street bins each need to cover a quarter of Edinburgh once or twice each week. It was also noted that working at night (i.e. unsociable hours) can increase costs, and that collections now finish at 10pm. However R Price noted that system failures are even more expensive due to extra runs. Actions: L Press to meet with relevant CEC officials, L Henni to raise this issue at next Neighbourhood Partnership meeting.

7 Licensing

No items

8 Transport

C Nimmo, S Beaumont R Price and I Mowat had met with A Herriman of CEC about plans for the top end of Leith Walk and London Road. The most concerning features of these plans are:

  • the link with the proposed cycle route from Roseburn, which would involve a dual-lane cycle-way past the Playhouse.
  • prohibiting right turns from London Road into Leith Walk, thus causing extra traffic up to Picardy Place roundabout, and on minor streets in Hillside and possibly preventing access to Gayfield Square from LR. This was proposed to enable the pedestrian/cycle crossing on London Road to become a single stage (no island in the middle of the road). However it was noted that cyclists can cope with islands, e.g. at the top of Dublin St, and it was considered the resulting congestion and rat running from the loss of the RH turn outweighed the potential gains for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • The movement of the pedestrian crossing west of the Blenheim Place turn off would make that road difficult to enter and exit.
  • Montgomery St being closed to traffic from Leith Walk

Overall, IM and colleagues consider that this plan needs more thought.

Cllr Richie noted that Leith Program phase 4 (Pilrig St to McDonald Road) plans are in place, and that Sustrans is providing the budget for these works. Hence cycling has priority, followed by pedestrians and public transport.

It was suggested that the Leith Programme has taken a long time due to the St James centre plans ‘colliding’ with the LP, and that uncertainty over SJ and trams/lack of holistic vision is causing problems with planning.

Actions:

  • I Mowat to circulate draft feedback to A Herriman
  • Cllr Ritchie to report back from Leith Program oversight meeting (Friday 12 Feb).
  • Hence IM & colleagues to provide feedback to Cllr Ritchie asap.

9 Planning

See also full planning report (Appendix 2 below). R Price reported as follows:

  • Picardy Place: CEC has approved intent for sale tenders. NTBCC should get involved with this.
  • Royal High School: CEC refuse the hotel scheme 8 votes to 7. It is not known yet whether the developer will appeal. NTBCC has commented broadly in favour of the music school scheme.
  • Charlotte Baptist Chapel: 2 applications have been submitted: Glendola’s application for 22 serviced apartments and a steakhouse was recommended for approval, then withdrawn due to documentation issues. The other application, which NTBCC supports, is to convert the chapel into a dance school.
  • Royal Bank of Scotland – see item 5 above.
  • Heriot Hill development: plans for this narrow, steeply sloping strip of land will soon be before the DMC – the planning officer recommends refusal, and many objections have been submitted.
  • George St. Plans include wider pavements, cycle-lanes, parking, traffic. See also article in Scotsman.
  • 1-6 Canonmills. The Scottish Reporter over-ruled DMC’s decision to refuse demolition. Cllr Ritchie noted this is the final planning system step, but he is trying alternative ways to influence the developers. I Mowat suggested that this area’s sense of place is not properly acknowledged – it is on the border between the Inverleith and New Town conservation areas.

10 Neighbourhood Partnerships

The next meeting will be on 3 March. L Henni to attend.

11 Edinburgh Association of Community Councils

L Press will attend its next meeting (18 February, 7pm at City Chambers) – There will be a presentation by CEC’s director of place (Paul Lawrence).

12 Activities of Local Street or Amenity Associations

A McIntosh noted that the New Town community cinema shows films every 2 weeks at 33 Barony St. See https://www.facebook.com/newtowncommunitycinema for details.

13 Any other business

Edinburgh Academy invites everyone to see their latest plans on 13 February (10am–2pm) at the Upper School.

 

 

Appendix 1: Waste Collection Problems Identified during NT&BCC Fact-Finding Exercise

We find it helpful to separate trade waste arrangements and collections from domestic waste, since it seems that the main problems we identified are different for these two separate waste streams. It is likely that in some locations, problems with both types of waste collections impair the cleanliness of the streets. Street-cleaning is given a separate section. We have indicated the department we think is responsible after each bullet point. These are Waste Services (WS), Street Cleansing (SC) and Environmental Wardens (EW). (IT) is used for website issues.

TRADE WASTE

KEY CONCERN: Lack of enforcement

  • [WS] New system introduced to City Centre in 2015 appeared highly successful initially, reducing number of trade waste bins to very few.
  • [WS] During the following months there has been a substantial increase in the number of trade bins on the street, and the number continues to increase. We had understood that bins would only be allowed in exceptional circumstances, but it now seems to be the norm for each business to have several small bins where previously they had one large bin. The Hard Rock Cafe and Alexander Graham Bell, for example, each have over a dozen bins on Rose Street Lane, and it is hard to believe that such large premises are unable to store their waste in their premises. We are unclear if this is an interim measure, and if so what the timescale for compliance is.
  • [EW] [WS] Following months have seen substantial increase in number of trade bins on street, and failure to enforce the new system’s ‘sticks’ when waste is badly presented. Are these ‘sticks’ (fines, other actions?) adequate to improve behaviour?
  • [EW] The new system uses ‘sticks’ when waste is badly presented. Are these ‘sticks’ (fines, other actions?) adequate to improve behaviour? More importantly, are there appropriate enforcement procedures in place and being taken? There is little evidence of environmental wardens carrying this out.
  • [EW] Number of Environmental Wardens in City Centre may be problematic, also the requirement to work in pairs when ‘on the streets’. Is this requirement justified? Are Environmental Wardens properly managed across the city? How many are there in total, and do the shifts worked provide an adequate service 24-7?
  • [EW] Is the system for reporting problems with trade waste clear to members of the public, and is it working? Do reports produce a sufficient response in an acceptable period of time? NTBCC considers it unreasonable to expect the public to police waste collections in the city centre, which is a mostly commercial area. Ensuring the system is complied with and that trade waste is not causing nuisance/reduction of amenity/eyesore on the streets should be the responsibility of Environmental Wardens.
  • [WS] The new system is to be extended across the city in the next 6 months (?). Will this draw managers’ focus away from ensuring the city centre system is operating well?
  • [EW] The on-street collection windows are not being monitored, so bags of waste accumulate on the streets. Unless businesses are regularly fined for non-compliance, there is little incentive for them to change their behaviour.
  • [WS] There is huge inefficiency in having so many trade companies collecting waste at different times every day, and it results in constantly messy streets even when collections are being carried out correctly.
  • [EW] The maintenance of on-street bins is poor.
  • [EW] Environmental Wardens have too many responsibilities, and are unable to adequately carry out all the tasks they are expected to do. Some responsibilities could/should be moved to other ‘workgroups’, eg Street Cleansing, Police, Waste Services personnel, etc.
  • Residents have suggested that Traffic Wardens, who have eyes on many city centre streets every day, could be given the responsibility to report any street cleanliness issues they see.

DOMESTIC WASTE

KEY CONCERN: Lack of monitoring/quality control

  • [WS] System for waste collections is too complicated, and changes are introduced too often, with poor information to the people affected by those changes. Too many different types of container, confusing for public, particularly if moving from one area of city to another. Also confusing for visitors to Edinburgh. Also means that several vehicles need to go along the same route to collect all waste/recycling streams.
  • [WS] Number, type, and placement of containers appear haphazard in many streets. Is there a system for calculating requirements, and for monitoring whether these calculations work in practice? If a bin is regularly overflowing at time of collection, more bin capacity or more frequent collection is needed.
  • [EW] The bins get moved about by WS and by the public. What system is in place to ensure they remain in the right place?
  • [WS] In several instances, CEC are unaware of the existence of a waste or recycling container; in such instances, no regular collection is made, the container is emptied only when reported overflowing by a member of the public.
  • [WS] [IT] There is no system on the CEC Waste website for updating information on the type and location of waste/recycling containers.
  • [WS] [IT] Some types of container are not on the website at all – e.g. the 3300-litre packaging recycling bins, as found on East Claremont St.
  • [WS] It is confusing to have identical containers (3300-litre, dark green) for more than one type of waste: 1. domestic for landfill and 2. packaging for recycling
  • [WS] [IT] Reporting of problems with waste collection is not managed well; Most people are unlikely to report problems to begin with (Someone else’s problem), so the system needs to be as helpful as possible
  • [WS] After a report is made, the timescale for solving the problem is unacceptably long. For example, if a domestic waste bin is reported overflowing, the deadline for solving that is between 2 and 3 days (irrespective of the frequency of collection of that bin). Resources to respond to reports are inadequate?
    • The timescales for dealing with reports contravene the Scottish Government Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (2006)
  • [EW] An attempt to report dumped mattress on a Saturday showed that although an environmental warden was ‘on call’, they were unable to respond to the report, and could not be contacted directly. The emergency switchboard was not prepared to record details of the dumped item.
    • It seems that fly tippers are aware of this weekend service ‘drop-out’, as the number of mattresses, sofas, chairs etc dumped on Friday nights and Saturdays appears much higher than other days
  • [WS] Waste collection crews are expected to report side waste, and ensure it is collected. This takes time, and the same crews regularly fail to achieve their required collections, which is a disincentive to report side waste. Time pressure would be an even greater disincentive to sort out the side waste during collections by vehicle. This is probably a particular problem with collections of OMB (3300-litre, side-loading) bins, but same problem occurs with the smaller (1280-litre, wheeled) bins - side waste left uncollected and unreported.
  • [WS] Some residents suggested that, in general, communal bins encourage greater volumes of waste compared to a collection system where waste is kept in households until collection day. This seems intuitively likely; do WS have any system of monitoring waste production per person per week in areas using communal bins compared to areas using household bins?

STREET CLEANING & FLY-TIPPING

KEY CONCERN: Poor system for reporting / response too slow
Note: fly-tipping is included here only because it’s not dealt with by Waste Services

  • [SC] Unlike waste collections, which are well organised in theory, it is unclear what arrangements exist for cleaning streets, roadside gullies, and pavements. Same uncertainty for public rights of way, pathways that are not part of the road network, and cycle paths.
  • [SC] A schedule of regular cleaning appears to be in place for some streets (eg city centre, some in New Town) but not all. Possibly only on ‘arterial routes’: does that leave most streets served only by a ‘request service’ for street cleaning?
  • [SC] Responses to reports of streets needing cleaned due to accumulations of litter have been patchy (from ‘properly addressed within 1 day’ to ‘never dealt with’).
  • [SC] Sweeping vehicles do not appear to achieve much cleaning effect on streets in New Town & Broughton area - since most streets always have large numbers of parked cars. Often what is needed is a man/woman with a brush, backed up with a green machine, and enough time allocated for carrying out an adequate job.
  • [SC] At least once a year in early winter there should be a routine thorough sweeping up of leaves. There have been instances of basement flats being flooded when gullies clog up with leaves.
  • [SC] Reports of fly tipping are usually dealt with relatively promptly (ie items removed within 2 days - but see comment above about code of practice requirements)
  • [SC] It’s not clear that fly tipping is always addressed properly; fly tipping should be investigated by Environmental Wardens, but sometimes (possibly due to lack of wardens) the ‘task force’ ie Street Cleansing removes items without attempting to find out who did the tipping. This leaves no incentive for going through the proper channel to have bulky items collected
    • This highlights a potential problem with the reporting system - who is it that decides what the response to a particular report should be? If by telephone, it’s the person on the other end of the phone, who may not be well-versed in how to respond to different types of reports.
  • [SC] [EW] Pallets left by businesses after a delivery are abandoned on the street. These constitute fly-tipping, but need to be referred on by the wardens as well as members of the public. They create a lot of clutter in Rose Street lanes for example, and can cause traffic blockages if other waste then has to be placed on the road rather than the pavement due to lack of space.
  • [WS] [EW] Building debris left after road repairs are carried out need to be removed. Waste Services or Environmental Wardens need to hold the Roads Dept to account for this.

Appendix 2: summary of planning matters

Updates since Janaury are italicised

There continues to be a high activity regarding significant or major developments across the city centre at various stages of the planning process – and although most of the larger developments have now been determined, there are still some key developments which are decision-pending.

In addition, there have been several Scottish Government or Edinburgh Council consultations closing in the past few weeks.

Edinburgh St James

£850 million project to redevelop the St James Shopping Centre, King James Hotel and New St Andrew’s House, delivering approximately 50,000m2 of retail space; 14,000m2 of food and drink space; 3,000m2 of leisure space; a 210-bedroom hotel; a 52-bedroom apart-hotel; 143 residential units; parking and ancillary elements.

Recent News

  • The hearing/inquiry on compulsory purchase orders for the delivery of the development commenced in September/early October and is now concluded. The outcome is to be considered by the Scottish Government (DPEA).
  • An updated timeline from the developers, THRE reconfirm that the existing centre will close following the Christmas trading period with demolition of the existing centre beginning in spring 2016 and last ~ 18 months ( but John Lewis (JL) will continue trading)
  • Construction of the new centre will begin in 2017 with a structural frame in place before the end of the year before the buildings are then cladded and fitted out. The centre will be operational in 2020.

“St James Quarter Works (January – June 2016)” extracted from the February Spurtle

  • January: Highways work on Leith St. Layby created on St Andrew Sq. Construction of escape staircase to John Lewis.
  • January onwards: Gradual removal of Leith St central reservation. Single-lane contra-flow. New pedestrian crossings to access new entrance for John Lewis.
  • January–April: New gas main, sewer and drainage works on Elder St.
  • February: Infill building on Leith St.
  • February–June: New gas main work on Calton Rd and top of Leith St.
  • March: Shopping centre and multi-storey car park close.
  • March/April: Erection of scaffolding around New St Andrew’s House prior to demolition.
  • April: Completion of electricity substation at top of Cathedral Lane.”

We are not still aware of any official update to the plans for removal of demolition materials to 2 compounds in Leith Docks.

The current plans also include relocation of the York Place tram stop and reconfiguring Picardy Place in line with the 2013 PAN proposal but there are currently no plans to build the hotel in the central area.

The proposal for seeking offers for the Picardy Place site has been approved by Edinburgh Council.

We will continue to liaise with the development team offering the NTBCC as a forum for regular face to face updates. We will also publicise any sessions held by the developer to update the community on progress.

42 St Andrews Square, 19-23 South St Andrews Street, West Register Street & West Register Street Lane

South-east corner of St Andrews Square & Register Street / West Register Street, includes “Grade A” offices, either serviced apartments or a hotel (or residential), and Class 1 (Retail), Class 2 (Professional offices), Class 3 (Restaurant/café).

A series of application were lodged covering West Register Street & 42 St Andrews Square which were all approved in November 2015.

Former Royal High School (1)

Following an OJEU competition process the Council entered into a conditional exclusive contract to grant Duddingston House Properties (DHP) a 125 year lease over the property to deliver a ‘hotel of international standing’. It was originally understood that the contract is conditional on DHP making a full planning application by October 2015 (which has now been lodged) and securing planning and listed building consent within 18 months thereafter.

Brief history :

  • “Heritage groups” (& notably Historic Scotland) came out strongly against the proposed scheme; there were over 2100 comments lodged on the Planning portal (although with duplicate comments removed and supporting comments removed, resulting in ~1300 objections).
  • NTBCC submitted their objection to the scheme & attended the Development Management Sub-Committee meeting which considered the application for” Change of use, alterations to and restoration of principal former Royal High School building and pavilions (original Thomas Hamilton-designed school buildings), demolition of ancillary buildings including the former Gymnasium Block and Lodge, new build development, new/improved vehicular, service and pedestrian accesses, landscaping, parking, public realm and other works to create a world class hotel of international standing with associated uses (including publicly accessible bars (public house) and restaurants (Class 3) “ in December 2015.
  • Although the Planning Officer’s report was strongly against the development as proposed, the DMC only narrowly agreed with their recommendation and refused the proposal 8 votes to 7.
  • No further updates available.
  • It is also still unclear as to the timescales agreed in the developer’s contract with Edinburgh Council as to when planning permission needs to be agreed.

Former Royal High School (2)

  • The application for the alternate proposal from St Mary’s Music School has been lodged. NTBCC made representations on both the /FUL & /LBC application – supporting the application.
  • The NTBCC representation was lodged on the website in December 2015. Decision is pending.

Charlotte Baptist Chapel (1)

New scheme being proposed by Glendale (developers) – although no formal PAN is required, a public consultation was held on July 29th ; NTBCC Planning SC members attended.

  • Proposal to develop as restaurant on ground / lower levels with a bar (~62 person occupancy) on the lower ground floor – accessed via the restaurant. The main body of the chapel will be subdivided into 2 floors for a 22 room hotel (including the top floor) – 3 floors in the hotel in total.
  • NTBCC’s view is that this is a much-improved and imaginative use of the building and whilst we did not support the application, the proposal would safeguard the building in the longer term.
  • However, the building dates from 1912 and whilst its subdivision is regrettable from a conservation point of view, there are other interiors of similar buildings which are architecturally and historically more significant.
  • NTBCC considered the application further after having both the developers and local residents discuss their views at the September NTBCC meeting but ultimately declined to submit representation. The /FUL Application received 4 comments
  • Application was on the 27th January 2016 DMC agenda but was withdrawn by the Council’s Head of Planning to amend the Planning Officer’s report.
  • The Planning Officer recommended approval.
  • We expect the application to return to the DMC shortly.

Charlotte Baptist Chapel (2)

  • NTBCC Planning Committee members were invited to presentation by a new applicant (Mr Peter Schaufuss) & his agent to discuss an alternate proposal for this building. Note: the building is owned (as far as we are aware, without condition) by Glendola leisure.
  • This application (15/05261/FUL ; 15/05264/LBC) is for change of use of the Charlotte Baptist Chapel to a Centre for Dance and the Performing Arts, including theatre, exhibition area, museum, ballet school, dance studio and ancillary accommodation. This would include internal refurbishment including theatre, exhibition area, museum, ballet school, dance studio and ancillary accommodation.
  • NTBCC welcome the early engagement from the applicant to discuss the applicant’s aspirations for this building in terms of providing facilities to enable the building to be used as a “cultural hub” for dance, drama, music or other theatrical performances in a series of performance spaces within the existing building.
  • NTBCC believe that it is essential that the city centre maintains a mixed use character with a wide range of leisure uses, arts and cultural establishments as well as pubs and restaurants whilst taking account of the potential impacts of these local residents. We therefore encourage developments such as this and support this application from a community standpoint as it provides a different and innovative use for this listed building. NTBCC believe that this change of use would add to the vibrancy and most importantly diversity of Rose Street and the surrounding area.
  • We stated that although we had some concerns over the long term economic viability for a privately-funded arts centre such as this is unproven. But, given the minimal intervention proposed for the building, no irreversible changes would be required and therefore NTBCC would support this proposal from a listed building standpoint given the sympathetic treatment to the building exterior but more importantly, the minimal intervention proposed to the interior and the retention of all of the important internal features.

2nd Public Consultation Event – November 2015 RBS Development of Land in Fettes Row, Royal Crescent, Dundas Street and Eyre Terrace

The potential development of land owned by RBS in Fettes Row, Royal Crescent, Dundas Street and Eyre Place (the latter containing a smaller area already has planning consent granted for a mixed use development, subject to various conditions) has been further discussed by the NTBCC Planning Committee and further comments communicated with the developer’s agents.

We had been broadly supportive of the PAN for the land bordering Eyre Place/Eyre Terrace and subsequently the Planning Permission in Principle (14/01177/PPP) granted consent in February 2015 but with certain reservations regarding scale and height of the proposed development.

The site is within the New Town Conservation Area, therefore any development of the site must preserve or enhance the special character or appearance of the New Town Conservation Area.

The proposed site, given its size, central location and adjoining a precious open space within the New Town, offers a unique opportunity to add real value to the area whilst allowing the current owner to meet its business objectives.

The NTBCC Planning Committee submitted comments to the developer/agent later than planned in January 2016.

  • NTBCC are broadly in favour of the Preferred Development Option – which proposes a “finger block” concept forming a crescent mirroring the curve of Royal Crescent. This preserves some open aspects from key viewpoints from within the New Town. Regarding the proposed development on the currently-designated open space adjacent to Eyre Place & 113 Dundas Street, we accept that completion of the urban blocks in these areas does maintain some consistency with the New Town layout generally and given that permission in principle has already been granted for the Eyre Place open space but concerns remain as to the maximum height..
  • We are in favour in principle with the increased permeability that the proposed development, provides in terms of additional accesses / exits from King George V Park (KGVP). The provision of the Urban Square and Entrance Square also helps to integrate this development with the surrounding area and provides some homogeneity with the existing open spaces of KGVP.
  • We also acknowledge that the importance of the presence and form of the existing trees bordering Fettes Row / Royal Crescent appears to have been recognised.
  • We separately questioned the developer regarding traffic flows and comparisons on their proposal vs. that from the existing RBS site.
  • A summary of the NTBCC comments and the full text is available on the NTBCC website.

Development of 8 townhouses & associated access improvements – Heriot Hill

The application to develop Heriot Hill by provincial property Holdings (15/02335/FUL) which was lodged in June 2015 has been recommended for refusal by the Planning Officer.

The report which is due to go before the DMC on 10 February states that “the scale of the development proposed does not have a positive impact on its setting, resulting in an adverse impact on the spatial character and wider townscape. There are no compelling reasons for departing from policy. The proposal would adversely affect the residential amenity of both the existing residents and future occupiers.”

There were 122 comments lodged including NTBCC – all objecting to the proposal.

4B Gayfield Place

A new application (15/05009/FUL) had been lodged for change of use and conversion of offices to form 5 residential flats including re-instatement of existing windows and an associated Listed Building application (15/05010/LBC) for “Demolition works and alterations forming 5 proposed flats including creation of bedrooms, new kitchens, construction of new insulation floor and re-opening / creation of windows”.

NTBCC lodged an objection after being contacted by local residents to this scheme. There was a previous application in 2014 to change the use of these premises in a category A listed building from office use (Class 4) to a Guesthouse / Bed & Breakfast establishment to which NTBCC also objected but it was granted nonetheless.

NTBCC believe that in principle, the conversion of the existing offices at ground floor level to residential accommodation is acceptable but the proposals as presented require an unacceptable level of intervention to the listed building and even with significant intervention, would be contrary to several policies in the current Edinburgh Local Development Plan due to over-development to the detriment of the resident’s and neighbour amenity.

The Planning Officer’s report did not acknowledge NTBCC’s objection although the objection is lodged on the Edinburgh Planning portal.

George Street

Outline plans emerging from latest public consultation by Ironside Farrar.

Proposal to widen pavements, retain 2-way traffic flows on George Street but one lane only E-W & W-E with inclusion of segregated / dedicated cycle lane and some parking but a net reduction. Vehicular traffic flow would be 2 way in the centre of the street – some design details pending.

Recent announcement at the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group Summit by the CE of Essential Edinburgh, Roddy Smith.

A computer-generated impression of the proposed layout for the East end of George Street. Picture: Ironside Farrar

It is reported that the “radical overhaul” of George Street will create new spaces for festivals, events and pavement cafes.

“An ambitious vision for George Street, the centrepiece of the New Town, will see pedestrians and cyclists given much greater priority.

Parts of the street are expected to be regularly closed off for events to ease pressure on St Andrew Square, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors during the summer and winter festivals. Just one lane of traffic will be allowed on either side of the thoroughfare.”

Applications with Scottish Reporter

1 – 6 Canonmills

Glovart, the developer, has appealed the refusal for demolition of the existing building (Earthy’s) to the Scottish Reporter. NTBCC liaised with the Cockburn , Inverleith Conservation Society & Stockbridge & Inverleith CC on next steps and our response to the developer’s appeal statement.

A further representation has been submitted by NTBCC (along with Stockbridge & Inverleith CC, the Inverleith Society & the Save 1-6 Canonmills campaign group).

We were surprised and disappointed that the Scottish Reporter did not uphold the decision to refuse demolition in a conservation area but rather focused on the previous decision for the development which was originally granted. From the brief decision summary, it was not evident that the points made in the various submissions were fully considered as there was no mention of the various arguments put forward by the objectors.

Local Development Plan

Currently with the Scottish Reporter – further consultation on key issues expected.

City of Edinburgh Council Consultations

  • Leith Town Centre Supplementary Planning Guidance (includes top of Leith Walk) – timescale for responses extended. NTBCC attended the Leith Central CC discussion as Leith CC covers the majority of the area but do not feel it necessary to make further comment.

Scottish Government Consultation on Review of Planning Processes

  • A comprehensive response was drafted by Stephen Hajducki including the need for limited rights for 3rd Party appeals and was submitted in early December.
  • The submission and a brief summary have been added to the NTBCC website.

Picardy Place proposals – now is the time to air your views

Henderson Global Investors (HGI) have made two proposals for converting Picardy Place. The plans are at an early stage and now is the time to think about these proposals and air your views. The New Town & Broughton Community Council (NTBCC), along with other representative groups, have already made a representation questioning whether the impact on traffic flows has been fully considered and asking what this proposed development brings to the residents and communities of Edinburgh.  Continue reading