‘Final’ Proposal for Cycle Path Extension in King George V Park

The New Town & Broughton Community Council along with representatives from the Friends of King George V Park & others have been engaged with Turley, the planning consultant (acting on behalf of Ediston, the developer of the ex-RBS site) on progressing the Council-imposed condition / informative  imposed  as part of the approval of the various applications in relation to the wider development – specifically relating to cycling provision from the proposed new entrance into King George V Park (KGVP).

We have been invited to a further meeting on 15 October with the  Council’s Parks & Green Spaces and Active Travel team along with the Friends and others to agree the final proposal for extending the cycle path  from the new cut-through from Dundas Street to KGVP and widening / resurfacing current paths in KGVP to accommodate this – the final proposal put forward by the Council can be seen here.

We would be interested in any comments that local residents and park users have to this proposal.

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Take Away’s from NTBCC’s February Meeting by Laura Graham

Our second meeting of 2021 took place on a snowy night that once again saw us gather by zoom.

Monthly meetings using zoom continue to be very well attended with the Eventbrite listings working effectively. Expertly set up by our Vice Chair, Richard Price, any members of the public registering late on the day of the meeting are caught with direct emails from the secretary. The increased attendance has been a silver lining in these dark, difficult times.

We are also very grateful for the regular and engaged attendance of councillors and for the expert hosting by our Chair Carol Nimmo (aka Britney) whilst thankfully not achieving the heady heights of viral infamy that some other (parish) councils have.

Cracking on with administrative requirements, the previous months minutes were passed, after minor corrections were noted and agreed. The police report was very helpful and thanks were extended to the officer who prepared it. Policing appears to have been quiet due to lockdown, with some vandalism to report but no housebreakings (everyone is at home!), business break-ins or assaults reported. Last month we asked for more information on reports of breaches of COVID regulations and are reassured to hear these are few and far between.

Deirdre Henderson commented on the review of the next stage of the short-term letting legislation development. The Local Government and Communities Committee have passed the proposed legislation over to the Scottish Parliament and there is to be a Scottish Government Working Group. Representatives have been invited from various sectors, and ‘big industry’ is very well represented however residents’ groups are not so well represented and have to go through their local council.

Concerns were expressed that there could potentially be a conflict of interest. It was agreed that we should have a follow up meeting for those members interested in this subject.

In response to an earlier iteration of concerns around the subject of Graffiti, Andi Christie, head of Drummond Community High School reported on a survey she had undertaken amongst the younger members of the community.  The general view is that most people do not like graffiti, however the idea of creating ‘legal wall space’, designated for Graffiti, enabling artistry as opposed to vandalism was considered to be a viable option

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Proposed Demolition / Redevelopment of the Former RBS Site – Summary of NTBCC’s Position

There will be a hearing at the Council’s Development Management Sub-Committee on 17 February 2021 (via Microsoft Teams) on the three interlinked applications related to the former RBS site at Fettes Row / Dundas Street.

The applications to be determined at this hearing are :

  • 20/03034/FUL ‘ Demolition of existing buildings and erection of mixed-use development comprising residential, hotel, office and other commercial uses, with associated landscaping / public realm, car parking and access arrangements at 34 Fettes Row’ (including the later revised application). NTBCC submitted an objection to this;
  • 20/03661/CON ‘Complete Demolition in a Conservation Area’. NTBCC stated that the case for 100% demolition of buildings on the site had not been made ; and
  • 20/03655/FUL ‘Formation of path and associated landscaping King George V Public Park’. NTBCC suggested a lower impact intervention should be considered.

NTBCC (together with other local interest groups and  some heritage bodies) will be presenting our  views on the proposals as a whole, covering key issues that have been raised in our previously-submitted representations. Links to the full NTBCC responses are at the foot of this article.

NTBCC’s objection to the main application (20/03034/FUL) reflected issues raised by local residents groups (from Fettes Row & Royal Crescent, the Drummond Civic Association, as well as from the recent Applecross development on the corner of Dundas Street & Eyre Place) and also the Friends of King George V Park.

Key amongst the issues  we highlighted mirrored concerns raised by Historic Environment Scotland on the proposed heights of the four crescent blocks proposed for the current open ground to the north of Royal Crescent which will have a detrimental impact on the World Heritage site, the New Town Conservation area and the amenity of King George V Park (KGVP). These concerns are exacerbated by the proposed positioning of the northern crescent blocks within a few metres of the boundary of the park. The AVRS (Accurate Visual Representation) as submitted with the application showing the before / after view from within the park looking south can be viewed here and a similar visualisation looking east to the corner of Fettes Row / Dundas Street here.    Continue reading

NTBCC January meeting summary – Mike Birch, Transport convener

Another well attended virtual meeting – peaking at 47 attendees including yet another excellent turnout of NTBCC members as well as local City of Edinburgh Councillors Mowat, Osler and Mitchell and our MP, Deidre Brock – their presence, as always, very much appreciated. It was a time to say farewell to one of our long-standing Community Councillors, Jonathan Finn, who has recently served as both Treasurer and Licencing Convenor. We also welcomed Ken Lochrie, who was formally adopted as a new Associate member as a temporary representative for the Drummond Civic Association.

After the problems that some people had accessing the meeting last month, we were all relieved that normal Zoom service returned. As always the agenda was very packed but due to the excellent marshalling of our Chair, Carol Nimmo we managed to finish the discussion within two minutes of the scheduled time!

The Police Scotland report highlighted several burglaries of business premises and further cases of vandalism occurring within the New Town as well as their continuing efforts to respond to reports of Covid-19 breaches but no details of the number of fixed penalty notices were provided. There was also mention of Operation Watchnight for Hogmanay, which was unsurprisingly reported as being the quietest in many years.

Much of the meeting was taken up with Planning issues. Richard Price, who as always is on top of all matters to do with Planning in our area, provided an excellent summary of the status of the key planning applications.  We also had a brief presentation from the team responsible for the plans to develop 12-14 Picardy Place into a new 67-bedroom hotel with an enclosed rear courtyard bar and restaurant (incorporating The Outhouse bar). This presentation coincided with   the formal submission of the  planning applications but the developers had already presented to the NTBCC Planning committee in late October but it was helpful that a wider audience  got an early sight of the final plans and the opportunity to ask the developers questions about the impact on neighbours and the environment.

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NTBCC meeting – January 2021 Transport / Planning Committee Reports (Draft)

Transport Committee Report (January 2021)

Spaces for People

London Road – The initial work required to create a segregated cycle lane along London Road between Easter Road and Leith Walk has been completed with the removal of the parking bays and the addition of new road markings. Further work will be required to put the temporary bollards in place and provide new signage. Following the discussion at the last Community Council meeting I have written to Leith Central Community Council seeking their support for improvements to the Leopold Place pedestrian crossing.

Broughton Street – together with Jenni Inglis, I met with David Hunter from Living Streets for a walkabout around our area and Broughton Street in particular. We highlighted some of our concerns about pedestrian access and it was agreed that we would arrange a formal street audit in January. No date has yet been set. Better Broughton made a presentation at our December meeting and have submitted their proposals for changes to Broughton Street to the Spaces for People team; some of which are aligned with our own thoughts. It is important that we develop our own more detailed proposals based on our previous submission to the Council. We have received no further contact from the Spaces for People team regarding the suggested pre-proposal discussion.

Tram Works

Regular monthly meetings of the affected Community Councils with the Trams Team will resume at the end of this month with both the draft Traffic Regulation Orders (still not issued for public consultation) and follow up to the Traffic Modelling data review on the agenda. Tram works that were shutdown over the Christmas and New Year period resumed on 5 January.

Mike Birch January 2021

Planning Report (January 2021)

Major Applications – Current  

‘New Town Quarter (NTN)’ – Initial application submitted at the end of August for redevelopment of the former RBS site on Dundas Street – incl.  144 ’Build to Rent’ (BTR) residential units, 117 private residential units and 88 Mid-Market Rent (MMR) = 349 residential units in total. The 88 MMR units meet the 25% ‘affordable units’ requirement on site – in addition, incl. with office space, retail / leisure space & a 116 room hotel.

Main application was 20/03034/FUL accompanied by an application for ‘Complete Demolition in a Conservation Area’ (20/03661/CON).

A 3rd application specifically covered the access from the development into King George V Park (20/03655/FUL) – ‘Formation of Path & Associated Landscaping’. Proposed removing 5 trees (3 defined as viable) to allow a wide split entrance into the park in the south-west corner, for pedestrians (steps) & cyclists / ‘wheelers’ by a ramp.

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Reflections on the September NTBCC meeting from James Kilner – an NTBCC member

We are still stuck in Zoom for our Community Council meetings and it looks like we will exist in this ‘virtual reality world’ for some time. This is a shame as I miss the camaraderie of our meetings. It also makes it harder to gauge guests and to question them properly.

This month’s meeting was a case in point. Ross McNulty from Ediston and Colin Smith from Turley joined our meeting to talk about their development of the former RBS site on the corner of Fettes Row and Dundas Street. It is a massive development which  is now passing through the planning application process. Covid-19, the lockdown and social distancing and rules about meeting in groups have made it far harder to get a handle on the project and what it all means.

For 15 or 20 minutes or so, Ross McNulty and Colin Smith had the floor, or at least the Zoom screen, and told us about their project. They didn’t say anything new. A handful of questions came their way but these were also easily dealt with.

Mostly, the dry formality of this discussion had, I thought, been down to the online format but  Ross McNulty, a tough ex-pro rugby player, had also seemed grumpy. He had joined the meeting looking weary, (rattled even), pushing back on how the owners of the RBS site, a London-based  property fund, had been depicted in a community newsletter.  An hour before the meeting he had been sent, along with all the members of the Community Council, the newsletter of the Fettes Row and Royal Crescent Residents’ Association. Its front page had highlighted developers’ intention to chop down more than half of the trees on the site. It seems   that they want to turn the site from semi-rural to urban.

This segment on the development dominated the meeting and it took the tact and skill of Our Great Leader, Community Council Chair Carol Nimmo, to pull us back on schedule.

There was then some input from the Edinburgh City Councillors who are regular attendees  of the meeting including Cllr Jo Mowat on the important ‘Charter for Edinburgh’ issue  and some discussion about the ‘Spaces for People’ (SfP) programme. SfP is about creating extra space for people concerned about the spread of Covid-19, to reassure them that it is safe enough to use the pavements once again. Of all the ill-thought out Covid response programmes this is one of the stand-outs. You may have seen it in action. Red and white bollards block off parking spaces and bus lanes, congesting roads and irritating businesses. These spaces should now provide extra pavement space for people to walk along; improving social distancing…..except that I’m not sure that anybody uses them.

Anyhow, I digress.

Towards the end of the meeting, a question was raised  about how to deal with graffiti that had started to appear around the area. There is, apparently, a council anti-graffiti team that is meant to deal with the worst of this but this questioner wasn’t having much luck so far.

I’d had had a quiet meeting but now sensed my opportunity to make a difference and, frankly, to impress, and so I explained to the graffiti-concerned person that growing up in London I’d defeated these louts by painting over their graffiti on a white wall opposite my home within a day of it appearing.  She should do the same, I suggested, content that my steer would improve her life.

And now Our Great Leader, who had Zoomed in from a hotel in the Highlands to keep us in line, was able to display her poise and timing once again. The technique that I’d suggested was, she said gently, less effective on the bare stone walls of the New Town. Always happy to defer to those wiser than me, I did so immediately.

Roll-on our next meeting on 12 October.

RBS Redevelopment – Response by Ediston to The Chronicle’s “Plans threaten our tree-scape”

The New Town & Broughton Community Council (NTBCC) wants to hear views from the community on the current planning applications that have been lodged for the former RBS site. The applications that are open for comment can be viewed on this NTBCC website post.

The community council is a statutory consultee on these applications and, as such, will submit a representation. NTBCC also have an extended deadline for submission of comments to these applications & it will be also be a key agenda item for our meeting on 12 October.

The views of the immediate residents on Fettes Row & Royal Crescent as well as those from the Friends of King George V & Scotland Yard Park (www.kgvsy.org.uk) were posted recently on NTBCC’s website (Plans threaten our tree-scape)  included within The Chronicle’ newsletter which has been distributed to well over 1,000 households in the area.

We would also state that whilst NTBCC may share many of these concerns  – our position & response to these applications should reflect as far as we are able, views covering the wider community & relate to / be cognisant of relevant planning policies.

We have received a response from the developers (Ediston) which discusses many of the points raised. Click the graphic below so see the full PDF.