NTBCC minutes – Monday 12 August 2019

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s ordinary meeting, held in Drummond Room, Broughton St Mary’s church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 12 August 2019 at 7.30pm

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

In the chair’s absence at the start of the meeting, the vice-chair chaired the start of the meeting (items 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6).

1 Attendance and apologies for absence

Judy Conn NTBCC secretary Bruce Ryan NTBCC minutes secretary
Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer, licensing convenor Simon Bolam Ramsay Gardens Proprietors Association
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Patrick Keady Old Town Community Council
Simon Holledge NTBCC communications convenor Alan Macintosh Broughton Spurtle
Jack Hugh NTBCC Cllr Joanna Mowat City Centre ward
Stuart McAllister NTBCC Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan Leith Walk ward
Carol Nimmo NTBCC chair Cllr Hal Osler Inverleith ward
Richard Price NTBCC planning convenor Cllr Alasdair Rankin City Centre ward
Chrissie Ross NTBCC 5 residents/visitors

1.1 Apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Lewis Press NTBCC environment convenor
Margaret Duffy NTBCC Fran Wasoff NTBCC
Allan Jack NTBCC transport convenor Sheila Warnock NTBCC, Great King St RA
Susan MacInnes NTBCC

2 Minutes of meeting of 10 June

These were accepted without changes. (proposed J Finn, seconded R Price, nem con)

2.1 Matters arising

All covered in items below

3 Police report

No police presence- hence no report.

4 Transport – Issues for discussion with Lothian Buses / Transport for Edinburgh

See also transport update (appendix 1)

It was noted that

  • A Jack has done great work on submissions to consultations on low-emissions zones and the city-centre transformation project.
  • NTBCC is gearing up for LB/TfE to present to NTBCC in September or October.
    • Potential questions for these organisations are to be agreed via email.
    • A Macintosh suggested asking about the increased number of open-top tour-buses, especially ones that appear to emit much pollution.
      • Cllr Mowat stated that CEC does not license these buses, and hence has no control over them.
    • LB now takes contactless payments.
  • CEC cannot cap numbers of private-hire cars (PHCs), so long as drivers have clean licenses and police-checks.
  • Concerning PHCs and emissions, PHCs are standard cars and so need to meet the same standards as other cars.
    • Cllrs Mowat and Osler noted that taxis need to meet the Euro 6 standard. Because there are a limited number of such (costly) vehicles, and other cities specified this standard before Edinburgh, Edinburgh has become a ‘dump’ for Euro 4 and Euro 5 cabs. Hence Edinburgh taxis have 18 months’ grace to meet the Euro 6 standards.
    • CEC looks at black cabs every 3 years. May not be doable for private hires. (Cllr Mowat is expecting a report.)
  • Broughton Rd has now re-opened, having been shut in both directions due to a large ‘sink-hole’.

5 Communication

See also communication update (appendix 2)

It was noted that

  • NTBCC would need to produce any CC election material well before 30 September, preferably before 9 September.
  • Volunteers are needed to mentor Drummond CHS pupils who would work with NTBCC (details of this work TBC)
    • Action: B Ryan to look into CRB approval needs
    • Action: CONTACT Deirdre Henderson in September to talk again with DCHS parent council about potential pupil volunteers
    • Decision: NTBCC to continue to explore this, then implement it after the CC elections

6 Planning

See also planning update (appendix 3)

6.1 Royal Bank of Scotland

New owners of the site (Ediston Real Estate) submitted a PAN on 9 August. They are working with Turley’s (planning consultants) and 10 Design architects. PAN consultations will be on 11 September and 17 October in Broughton St Mary’s. They have also contacted relevant CEC councillors (in Inverleith Ward & City Centre), Friends of King George V Park and relevant residents’ associations, The proposal is expected to include complete demolition of the existing buildings, and to include a wide range of class-uses, including possible student housing and Class use for additional healthcare facilities. They have offered to present to NTBCC. The full planning application is likely to be submitted around the end of the year (at the earliest).

6.2 Royal High School

The enquiry took place in September-October 2018. The reporters were due to complete their findings at the end of April, but changes to Historic Environment Scotland policies caused delay. Hence the reporters now aim to finish in August. Scottish Ministers will make their recommendations to the appropriate Scottish Ministers but do not have to make their recommendations public immediately. The Cockburn Association has drafted a ‘scenarios’ document covering actions to be taken once decision known – NTBCC have been consulted on the content and whether they wish to be involved

It was noted that, potentially, if there were to be a long delay e.g. a 2-year delay would end in 2021, when Duddingston House’s agreement with CEC (to build a hotel on this site) ends. Decision: NTBCC to continue working with the Cockburn Association on this issue.

6.3 Baxters Place

It was stated that the decision noted in the update gives some indication of what is and is not acceptable about short-term lets (STLs). An application to develop a basement in the property has now been withdrawn. Hence the only remaining application is to convert 6 flats into a boutique hotel. NTBCC has objected to this due to the applicant’s track-record.

  • It was noted that CEC is trying to deal with the ‘worst STL offenders’, but that this is using resources that ideally would be used elsewhere. The CEC councillors present advised residents who are suffering from STL issues to submit complaints via the CEC webpage.
  • Cllr McNeese-Mechan stated that it is difficult for CEC enforcement officers to prove there are issues.
  • Action: B Ryan to add how to do this to the website

6.4 JC Decaux

It was noted that JCD wishes to install a bus shelter (including a video-screen) described as ‘on York Place’ (actually in front of St Mary’s, on Picardy Place). NTBCC was not notified about this until the final date comments were due. Action: R Price to consider submitting a late objection

6.5 Consultation on City Centre Retail Core Guidance

Cllrs Osler and Mowat noted that this includes questions on awnings and on removing limits on sizes of retail units.

6.6 Powderhall

There is no further news on this development apart from that demolition is finished.

7 Environment

C Ross reported that NTBCC’s environment committee (NEC) is handling two main issues:

  1. Waste
  • C Ross and L Press have chased Andy Williams, who had promised another Waste Forum meeting in August, but has not yet arranged one.
  • Cllr Mowat noted that complains about communal bins are ‘sky-high’, mainly due to people putting their waste in other streets’ bins, and CEC having insufficient suitable refuse vehicles. Cllr Osler is working with residents to track such issues and processing of complaints about unemptied bins. Cllr Mowat suggested that the communal waste project is around 2 years behind schedule
  1. Trees in West Princes St Gardens

It was noted that only 3 of the 20 trees are appear to be healthy, probably because they were planted at an inopportune time. Hence replanting in 2020 may be needed. S Holledge had suggested to the National Gallery (NG) director that Andy Heald, a local forestry consultant could examine the trees, but NG has so far declined this.

  • A resident suggested that the tree-removal was not done principally to enable access to NG by disabled people but to change the NG main entrance. Cllr Osler stated that there was a need to provide disabled access.
  • It was suggested that if there been better publicity of such needs and changes, there might not have been such a furore. Cllr Osler responded that tree-removal had been much debated.
  • Cllr Mowat agreed that communications were not done well. J Conn stated that the tree-replacement should have been done ideally at the right time [of year].
  • Cllr Mowat responded that CEC will keep monitoring for the next 5 years, as part of the planning conditions.

8 Licensing – including Fly Open Air event Sept 21/22 (NTBCC position)

See also licensing update (appendix 4).

8.1 54 Rodney St

J Finn noted that this takeaway had applied for extended hours, but NTBCC had objected. F Wasoff attended the relevant meeting, at which Erbil owner presented many letters apparently from neighbours who supported this late license, stating that all neighbours consented to the license. FW was not allowed to examine the letters, and they have not been made available online. It has now been found that 3 of the 12 immediately above did not agree. Hence JF asked what NTBCC should do about a license granted on dishonest grounds.

  • Cllr Mowat responded that licenses can’t be ‘unissued’, but if this license was granted on the basis of incorrect information then this is potentially fraud & is a criminal offence. She suggested contacting Sgt John Young and/or Andrew Mitchell (CEC head of Regulatory Services).

8.2 Fly festival

J Finn noted that

  • the Fly festival took place last September, generating lots of noise for a long period of time.
  • It is due again on 21-22 September 2019, but does not yet have full CEC permission.

Patrick Keady (OTCC) and Simon Bolam (Ramsay Gds Proprietors Association (RGPA) noted that last year’s festival did cause problems. RGPA has been asked by neighbours about the current noise from Princes St Gardens. There has been a persistent increase in the number of concerts (with 5 concerts last year, 9 this year), leading to a ‘wall of noise’. Audience-noise hits the Old Town, while noise from the bandstand hits the New Town.

It was also noted

  • Believe that there is guidance on permitted noise levels: 15dB above normal
  • The Fly festival isn’t just a short concert but a full weekend (potentially 11 hours duration), hence bothering residents, shoppers, shop-workers, hotels, tourists etc. It was suggested that such events should not take place in Edinburgh’s city centre, and that Edinburgh needs a suitable venue outside the city centre.
  • Essential Edinburgh (EE) statistics may show that footfall decreased during last year’s festival, but EE will not share these with non levy-payers such as NTBCC. Action: JF to examine footfall figures provided by CEC.
  • Hotels may have leverage but may not be aware of the forthcoming festival
  • EE would be a consultee, according to Cllr Mowat.
  • The cllrs received no complaints from hotel guests about the 2018 festival, but did receive some about the top of Princes Mall.
  • Concern was also expressed with the number of events on Calton Hill and in Princes St Gardens (PSG).
  • Revenue from events in parks is used to maintain them, according to Cllr McNeese-Mechan. PSG were built as a park for people who did not have nearby green space, so should be used for everyone, i.e. there should be a range of events. It has been expressed in various forums previously and Cllr McNeese-Mechan also stated that the gardens were only closed to the public for a maximum of 70 hours a year.
    • S Holledge and P Keady strongly contested this.
    • J Finn agreed that there should be events for all tastes, but there is a need to avoid negative impacts on others.

It was asked why CEC is not enforcing noise-levels, e.g. by cutting power if noise exceeds permitted levels.

  • Cllr MM has asked CEC’s director of place who is responsible for noise-monitoring.
  • Cllr Osler noted that there is precedent for feedback leading to changes, so NTBCC should keep monitoring issues, and that there would be a review next year.
  • It was asked whether CEC councilors have sufficient control over decisions, or whether too much delegated?
    • Cllr Osler responded that councilors consider individual aspects of planning, transport etc., so there is lack of join-up. Cllr Mowat added that CEC has not kept up with the increased number of requests, and needs proper control.
  • Action: NTBCC to submit objection
  • J Conn asked about reluctance expressed by a CEC officer for permission for an Extinction Rebellion boat on Calton Hill or the Meadows, due to too many filming requests and weddings. (Apparently there are no weddings at these venues)
  • Action: NTBCC to consider expressing their surprise at this decision, stating a preference for the ER boat to be ‘moored’ in the Meadows

9 Discussion – future presentations (including CEC Parks, Lothian Buses, WPSG etc.)

Action: NTBCC members to discuss this via email

10 Neighbourhood Networks / local residents’ associations

Nothing to report here

11 Community council elections (Sept ’19) & Local Interest Group registration

See also CEC web-page about CC elections and comms discussions

12 Any other business

It was noted that R Price, C Nimmo and S Holledge attended a George St stakeholder meeting. There are unanswered / unresolved issues: trees, plazas, cycle lane design, relocation of James Clerk Maxwell statue. NTBCC believe that clear messages came out of the meeting. Now money is available, there is concern that matters may accelerate. Hence NTBCC needs need to hear from Anna Herriman what the meetings outcomes were, and whether they tally with NTBCC’s representatives’ memory of the meeting.

Sub-committee reports issued prior to this meeting can be accessed here.