NTBCC minutes – Monday 10 June 2019

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s ordinary meeting, held in Drummond Room, Broughton St Mary’s church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 10 June 2019 at 7.30pm

Actions and decisions are red italic underlined. nem con means that no-one spoke or voted against a decision.

1 Attendance and apologies for absence

Judy Conn NTBCC secretary Richard Price NTBCC planning convenor
Margaret Duffy NTBCC Chrissie Ross NTBCC
Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer, licensing convenor Sheila Warnock NTBCC, Great King St RA
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Alan Welsh NTBCC
Simon Holledge NTBCC communications convenor Bruce Ryan NTBCC minutes secretary
Allan Jack NTBCC transport convenor Alan Macintosh Broughton Spurtle
Stuart McAllister NTBCC Cllr Claire Miller City Centre ward
Carol Nimmo NTBCC chair Cllr Max Mitchell Inverleith ward
Lewis Press NTBCC environment convenor 7 residents/visitors

1.1 Apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Cllr Hal Osler Inverleith ward
Jack Hugh NTBCC Cllr Any McNeese Mechan Leith Walk ward
Susan MacInnes NTBCC Deirdre Brock MP Edinburgh North & Leith
Fran Wasoff NTBCC

2 Minutes of meeting of 13 May

Approved subject to correction of spelling of Carlton Terrace in section 7·1 (Proposed R Price, seconded A Welsh, nem con)

2.1 Matters arising

Action: B Ryan to email SGN about their miscommunications re which parts of Leith St would be closed to cyclists

The chair of Drummond Community High School parents’ council (DCHSPC) noted she had raised the possibility of pupil representatives to NTBCC. DCHSPC supports this, and next meets in September, which fits well with CC elections.

3 Police report

No police presence, hence no report

4 Short-term lets: PLACE Edinburgh position & SG consultation

Deidre Henderson reported

  • She is a co-founder of PLACE Edinburgh (PE), a ‘self-help’ network focusing on short-term lets (STLs), often using case law to learn what is and is not acceptable (e.g. an application for STLs in Riddles Court was refused because it did not conform to norms). Case-law indicates that many current STLs would be found illegal if CEC enforced such law.
  • Hence PLACE Edinburgh has devised some recommendations around STLs.
  • The Scottish Government’s consultation is trying to find whether STLs should be treated differently [to long-term lets]. It is also asking whether tenement properties should be treated differently to detached properties.
    • PE’s position is that the latter should not happen, due to the lack of accessible properties in Edinburgh.
    • PE wishes that properties being let more than 4 times per year should need change-of-use planning permission. This would be regardless of the number of days a property is let, because many STLs implies a lot of turnover of tenants, and hence more disruption. This would also allow Edinburgh residents to let their own properties during the Festival, especially if this is home-sharing rather involving absentee landlords using their properties as businesses.
    • PE favours a system involving basic safety checks for all lets, involving minimal-burden online registration.
    • PE notes that the previous Local Development Plan wished to retain residential properties as such, but the current LDP does not.
  • D Henderson is concerned that the current consultation was influenced by the housing industry.
    • B Ryan responded that, according to CEC’s leader, SG is consulting on CEC’s preferred options. Cllr Miller concurred with this, but added that there has been input from other areas that have much tourism.
  • PE would prefer documentation to refer to ‘hosts’ and ‘guests’ rather than ‘operators’ and ‘customers’.
  • PE is also concerned about privacy and security, e.g. abuse of keys stored in key-safes.
  • PE is also concerned about noise from full-time STLs, especially where owners have removed carpets, overcrowding, improper waste disposal, displacement of communities, effects on house-prices and [lack of] powers/enforcement to tackle antisocial behaviour.

4.1 Questions and comments

  • Is letting a room, while the owner lives on-site (or goes on holiday), is acceptable to PE? (D Henderson stated it is.)
  • A Welsh suggested that STLs accessed by on-site code-locks should be regulated as HMOs are (e.g. consulting with neighbours, fire-safety inspections.)
  • D Henderson noted a trend of landlords letting to students during academic terms, with STLs during holidays.
  • J Finn and S Hajducki stated that this is illegal: students have the right to remain during all of their tenancies.
  • S Hajducki advocated that all lets should be regulated (e.g. for safety of properties), no matter the length of the lets.
  • B Ryan noted that ‘full-time’ landlords have to pay to be on a register of landlords, and suggested that STL landlords should be treated similarly.
  • The issue of whether there should be regulation and licensing was discussed. Cllr Mitchell stated that planning permission is needed for HMO use, separately from licensing.
  • It was suggested that licensing systems can be made to pay for themselves, and that local authorities can control the market by varying license prices.
  • Cllr Miller noted that LAs cannot currently charge more than it costs to run regulatory departments.
  • J Finn suggested that the major problem is that there isn’t a level playing-field: HMOs are highly regulated but STLs are not controlled. Recently law states that leases cannot have end-dates, so tenants can stay as long as they wish. Hence many landlords are tempted to use their properties for STLs. Also STLs should be subject to safety regulations. Should be licensing system for safety reasons. JF also questioned how landlords can let to students during the academic year and to short-term tenants over the summer under PE’s proposals. He later added that provision of relevant information to tenants (e.g. about waste disposal) should be a requirement under the STL licensing system.

o B Ryan responded that such landlords are still running businesses, so this would be covered by regulations that try to ensure landlords act responsibly.

  • A resident responded that good management is the key, citing some properties near her that have been overcrowded while others have been run well. She suggested that the length of let is immaterial in such cases.
  • D Henderson added that it is currently difficult to find who runs STL properties. It was suggested that this information should be part of the licensing system, and that it should be publically displayed as is done in hotels.
  • Action: J Finn/NTBCC licensing committee to write NTBCC’s response to the consultation.

5 Transport – CEC Low Emission Zone & City Centre Transformation consultation

See also monthly report (Appendix 1).

  • Due to the volume of work around transport, it was suggested that NTBCC conveners meet in July.
  • A Jack reported that transport work currently covers 2 issues: the city centre transformation project; low emissions zones. NTBCC has previously decided positions on both of these topics.

5.1 Low emission zones consultation

A Jack noted that this consultation closes on 21 July, and reported that it raises five main questions

  • LEZ boundary. The proposed city centre LEZ currently excludes Queen St, presumably to avoid routing traffic through Stockbridge AJ suggested that this will not suit NTBCC residents, and so NTBCC should object.
    • L Press asked how the proposed whole-city LEZ might affect matters, suggesting that this might change the constraints on the city centre LEZ, Queen St, etc. R Price suggested that there will be differences between application of and restrictions imposed by the two LEZs. Hence if the proposals are enacted as CEC proposes, Queen St traffic will be subject to weaker restrictions, later on. He noted that the main sources of NOxand particulates are heavy vehicles and buses.
    • AJ noted that the current proposals would increase vehicle numbers on Queen St.
    • B Ryan suggested that [gaseous] pollution diffuses, so the ideal would be to reduce the total amount of pollution across the whole city.
    • A Walsh stated that Moray Feuars have argued for a long time that narrow streets trap pollution, that Queen St is a major route, that CEC has been concerned about illegal air quality. AJ responded that this touches on the questions of whether and where to apply the strictest restrictions, e.g. should these be applied more widely/strongly. J Conn suggested that Queen St was built on arches, and so may not be suitable for increased levels of traffic. A resident added that ‘Queen St’ should be taken to include York Place in these discussions. AW also suggested that matters would have been different if Edinburgh had adopted a congestion charge.
    • R Price suggested that by the time all LEZs are being enforced, Queen St will be as restricted as the city centre LEZ. He suggested that there should be less difference in restrictions between the city centre and city-wide LEZs, i.e. that there should be stronger restrictions, sooner, on buses and other major polluters. He suggested that traffic monitoring will be necessary, because driving patterns will change.
  • Applicability. Should the LZ apply to all forms of transport? AJ suggested that it should, but noted that NTBCC has pointed out that buses, HGVs and vans are the most polluting, and that action should hence prioritise countering these
  • Enforcement. When should this start? CEC suggests it should start at the end of 2021 for the worst offenders, 2024 for most cars, 2025 for residents’ cars. AJ suggested this seems right.
  • Emissions standards. AJ assumes that what is proposed is reasonable, but asked for opinions on this topic. L Press suggested that they are out-dated. It was suggested that NTBCC contacts Ashley Lloyd on this topics.
  • Review. Should arrangements be reviewed after 1 year, 2 years or 4 years? AJ suggested they should be reviewed asap.

RP suggested watching CEC’s Transport and Environment Committee webcast (16 May). This covered air quality management zones (AQMZs), and noted that the proposed LEZs do not cover all the AQMZs, and presented evidence for the current proposals. Cllr Miller suggested that NTBCC representatives talk to relevant CEC officials.

Action: A Jack to convene a separate transport meeting, then draft NTBCC’s response to this consultation.

5.2 City centre transformation project

A Jack noted

  • The latest version of the proposals is similar to previous versions, but is more ‘practical’, e.g. it asks about removal of on-street parking, pedestrian priority zone in 1stNew Town, George St proposals (see item 5.3 below), the cycle network from Charlotte Square to Leith Walk, co-ordinating traffic lights to smooth bus journeys, removal of superfluous bus stops, proposal to introduce a free ‘hopper’ bus route in the city centre, introduction of a tram-route going south from Haymarket, reducing the width of Lothian Road.
    • A Welsh suggested that this is partly tourist-driven, to reduce traffic on the Mound. He feared that this would exacerbate traffic on the Bridges and Lothian Road (unless parking is banned on these routes). AJ stated that this is not in the proposals. L Press suggested that it is important to have pedestrian links between the old and new towns.
    • AJ noted that NTBCC agreed with the principles behind the current suggests, and hence supporting the proposals.
  • A resident suggested that Edinburgh’s population is aging, and asked whether the hopper bus would take wheelchairs.
  • Cllr Miller suggested that if there are other steps that would support the principles, NTBCC should submit them. That is CEC is not only consulting on the steps it currently suggests. She stated that CEC is trying to firstly define principles, then decide upon actions to fulfil them, including amending existing projects as appropriate.
  • R Price suggested that CCTP appears to be an overarching strategy pulling together various projects (e.g. Meadows to George St, Waverley masterplan), and that this is necessary. However CCTP is currently too aspirational and conjectural to understand. Hence NTBCC should include such projects and issues such as how passengers should reach their final destinations once they arrive at Waverley. AJ responded that these are mentioned, albeit in little detail.
  • A Welsh suggested that a major problem is pressure to commercialise, e.g. shops on Waverley, Essential Edinburgh on George St.
  • It was noted that the closing date for comments is 28 June, and that there is a drop-in session on 22 June.
  • Action: A Jack to draft a response [possibly using Google Documents]; other LHNCC members to contribute.

5.3 Meadows to George St

See also NTBCC blog post.

  • A Welsh noted CEC’s publicity about the Meadows to George St route, and suggested this will affect NTBCC’s area because it is proposed to ban traffic coming from Canonmills (which cannot turn onto Princes St) from going further up the Mound than Market St.
  • It was noted that the closing date for the consultationis 7 July. It was also noted that while some of this is out of NTBCC’s area, it will affect NTBCC’s area and so it is reasonable for NTBCC to comment on this. It was also noted that NTBCC has previously suggested that public performance spaces aren’t all concentrated in NTBCC’s area.
    • Cllr Miller stated that the old town has no places for street performances, and hence the consultation is partly to ask where these should happen. She added that old town residents have complained about noise levels in ‘canyon-like’ streets, e.g. from busking. However CEC cannot regulate street performers. Hence NTBCC should liaise with OTCC about these issues. OTCC is also concerned about the High St having become a short-term let zone.

Action: C Nimmo to ask S MacInnes to expand upon her note of the meeting to draft NTBCC’s response to the consultation.

6 Planning

  • It was noted that the DPEA will report on the Royal High School in August.
  • A resident asked about market stalls in St Patrick Square (South Clerk St), suggested that this would affect NTBCC’s area, and noted that OTCC had submitted an ‘extensive’ objection. R Price and J Finn noted that this is in the Old Town, and so NTBCC had not commented, and that although Hope St is just outside NTBCC’s area it decided not to comment.
    • Cllr Mitchell noted that people who have submitted objections can speak at or submit written representations to CEC discussions, provided they have followed appropriate procedures.
    • Alan and John to follow up

7 Environment: waste forum meeting highlights

L Press reported:

  • CEC’s waste and cleansing forum met last month. There is much for NTBCC to keep tabs on, including a bin audit (including where they are, and what conditions they are in).
  • LP suggested that environmental wardens/enforcement have been ‘useless’ for many years, but the service will be reviewed and restructured across the city, with the service to be run centrally rather than by localities. He suggested that NTBCC liaises with whoever is running this consultation.
  • Cllr Miller concurred, and suggested speaking with Gareth Barwell.
  • The next forum meeting will be in mid-August.

Action: R Price/L Press to post relevant material to NTBCC website

8 Licensing

J Finn reported

  • There are no new concerning applications this month.
    • A Macintosh asked about NTBCC’s likely reaction to a bar-extension next to the Omni Centre.
    • J Finn responded that because this is an area of overprovision, NTBCC would object.
    • There was discussion of potential legal challenges to CEC potentially refusing alcohol licenses in the St James centre. Cllr Miller stated that there is a presumption against new licenses in areas of overprovision, but that CEC has not consistently applied this.
    • It was suggested that the building housing the Johnny Walker Experience already had a license, and so the JWE was predicated on merely a variation to that license.

9 Communications

S Holledge noted that NTBCC’s communications committee will meet on 24 June.

10 Localities/local residents’ associations

10.1 Picardy Residents’ Association

M Duffy reported

  • There have been issues around bins. PRA has met with its cllrs, who stated there will be a 6-week trial of new bin management arrangements. However PRA has not yet seen this change. Cllr Mowat is trying to find when the trial will start and how it will work. Action: M Duffy to report on this
  • There have been SGN works in Forth St. However, it has been very hard to get SGN to engage with local residents – PRA has been trying for this since late March. SGN promised on 30 May to provide weekly progress updates but so far has only provided one update. This week SGN started doing replacement works on individual properties. However, there is still lack of engagement around such work, especially on listed properties. SGN claims that it has planning permission to do such work. However, according to MD, it has shown little concern for the aesthetics of its work, or damage to properties it has caused.
    • A resident reported the problems she has experienced, including SGN drilling through doorsteps (as part of its work to replace copper piping to as far as individual gas meters) rather than installing new pipes where old ones had been, and causing other damage. She suggested that SGN is not following regulations about the amount of pipe that can be visible on listed properties.
    • M Duffy added that SGN has not informed residents of what it would do.
    • Cllr Miller stated that SGN has not applied for planning permission, but acknowledged that SGN may have a statutory safety-based right to do this work.

Action: R Price to contact Caroline Lawrie of SGN, once he has liaised with PRA’s chair.

10.2 Great King St Residents’ Association

S Warnock asked how GKSRA would get a traffic island/pedestrian refuge at the west end of the street. Cllr Miller responded that this would need to be ‘scored’.

Action: Cllr Miller to advise how this is undertaken.

11 Any other business, including Community Council Elections, schedule & publicity

See also website post about elections timetable.

  • R Price suggested that NTBCCs comms committee should undertake relevant advertising. Cllr Miller responded that West End CC would be a good model of how to do this.

12 Appendix 1: transport monthly report

This month we submitted a response to the shared-use parking consultation as follows:

  • We support the Council’s general ambition to reduce traffic, and improve air quality and public transport.
  • However measures to improve the city centre should not shift the burden of traffic and parking to adjoining areas.
  • The plans as exhibited do not contain details of the number of spaces envisaged in the different categories. Without this level of details, it is only possible to make general comments.
  • However we believe the plans should not lead to an overall increase in the number of parking spaces in the NTBCC area.

We support the Council’s measures aimed at reducing traffic and air pollution. However the plans as exhibited appear to show an increase in the total amount of parking spaces in the NTBCC area, which we would not support.

The Council’s plans to reduce parking in the city centre could lead to an increase in the number of car journeys to the periphery of the city centre, and a grater demand for parking there. This would not reduce traffic or improve air quality for residents in the New Town and Broughton area.

Were this to happen, it would conflict with the Council’s ambition to reduce non-essential driving trips into and across the city (CCTP page 28) and it would have a negative effect on air quality, safety and public amenity in the New Town and Broughton area.

While we do support the introduction of shared-use spaces in principle, we think the current number of dedicated residents’ spaces should not be reduced; and that the total number of parking spaces, including car club and EV charging bays, should not increase.

We ask that the Council take this into account when preparing the detailed plans for shared-use spaces and look forward to further consultation when these details are available.

For NTBCC’s general position on CCTP and low emission zone (due this month) see our previous submission to the CCTP (on our website under Planning).