NTBCC minutes – Monday 11 December 2017

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s ordinary meeting, held in the Drummond Room, Broughton St Mary’s Church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 11 December 2017 at 7.30pm

Actions and decisions are red underlinedNem con means that no-one spoke or voted against the item.

1 Attendance and apologies for absence

Judy Conn NTBCC secretary Lewis Press NTBCC environment convenor
Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer, licensing convenor Richard Price NTBCC planning convenor
Andrew Haddow NTBCC Christine Ross NTBCC
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Fran Wasoff NTBCC
Jack Hugh NTBCC Alan Welsh NTBCC
Allan Jack NTBCC transport convenor Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary
Susan MacInnes NTBCC PC Seona Fleming Police Scotland
Ian Mowat NTBCC chair ~17 residents and visitors

1.1         Apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Cllr Alasdair Rankin City Centre ward
Foysol Choudhury NTBCC Cllr Marion Donaldson Leith Walk ward
Stuart McAllister NTBCC Cllr Amy Mcneese-Mechan Leith Walk ward
Carol Nimmo NTBCC Cllr Hal Osler Inverleith Ward
Susan MacInnes NTBCC Ben Macpherson MSP Edinburgh Northern & Leith
Cllr Claire Miller City Centre ward Deidre Brock MP Edinburgh North & Leith
Cllr Joanna Mowat City Centre ward

2           Minutes of Meeting of 13 November 2017 and matters arising

Approved subject to correction of a few typos (proposed R Price, seconded A Welsh)

Action: L Press to put summary of December meeting on website

3           Police

PC Fleming reported

  • Concerning parking at Stockbridge market, her community police officer (CPO) colleagues investigated on Sunday 26 November – they found that people are parking on double yellow lines, and so contacted CEC. CEC wardens attended on Sunday 3 December and issued parking tickets as appropriate, and will continue to attend.
  • There is ‘phenomenal’ footfall in the city centre. Hence there is a warning that pickpockets are at large.
  • Concerning begging in the city centre, little can be done unless begging is aggressive. There appears to be an increase in numbers of genuinely homeless beggars. However they are just sitting, not causing issues, and do not seem to be the ‘usual clientele’.
    • Night-shelters are opening earlier and finishing later. However, shelters will not take in inebriated people.
    • CPOs are trying to source help for homeless people, but CPOs are finding fewer rough sleepers, so uptake of shelters may be increasing.
    • There have been some fatalities. The recent Sleep in the Park may have raised awareness and some funds.
    • A Welsh reported rough sleeping in West Register House: temporary barriers enable access to unsafe areas.
  • J Hugh reported that he had contacted Superintendent Mason about volunteering to use speed ‘guns’. It was noted that guns are expensive, and must be calibrated before and after use, and that teams of 3 are needed.
    • However, current use of the guns appears to be already getting drivers to reduce their speed.
    • Some discretion is also possible: for example only a verbal warning for a taxi going at 26mph in a 20mph zone during the ‘educational’ period. Had it being going at 30mph or more, there would have been a ticket.
  • Some house-breakers have been caught. Action: PC Fleming and colleagues to supply updated crime statistics.
  • PC Chris Green has taken over licensing from PC Fleming.

4           Transport

4.1         Picardy Place

4.1.1     NTBCC’s position

I Mowat outlined NTBCC’s draft submission:

  • NTBCC welcomes improved engagement (compared to the limited engagement planned in November).
  • Residents have many concerns and questions about the current proposals. These are broadly
    • concern that there has been insufficient consideration of the broader context
    • concerns about traffic
    • concerns about use of the central triangle.
  • NTBCCC urges CEC to take time to consider and respond to these concerns, instead of simply pressing ahead.
  • If work must start now, CEC should explain why this is the case, and answer the questions raised.
  • Having said that, NTBCC believes that the November proposals are better than the September versions.
  • However, CEC should assure – and make evident – that
    1. adverse traffic effects are minimised
    2. improved traffic flow at the gyratory does not harm the north-south route through Edinburgh
    3. other options (e.g. locating the tram stop at Elm Row) have been properly considered
    4. a fitting location for the Paolozzi sculptures has been found
    5. no use is made of the triangle which prevents it being used as public space if later conditions permit replacing the gyratory with a T-junction (i.e. temporary structures would be OK, but not permanent ones).

IM stated that there are too many uncertainties, including lack of detail about the GAM. However, the modelling that NTBCC has seen suggests that a T-junction with current levels of traffic would lead to much congestion. There are other levers that CEC could use to reduce traffic.

NTBCC is also concerned that forbidding turning right from London Road onto Leith Walk will increase traffic levels on Picardy Place – and that this has not been modelled.

4.1.2     ‘Opposition’ responses

A resident who is involved in co-ordinating opposition to the current plans reported as follows:

  • This scheme has received the most opposition he has ever known.
  • In his experience, those who know about the scheme all oppose it.
    • However, at it has not been publicised enough by CEC, because many locals do not know of it.
  • Gyratory systems are being removed in other areas – so why is one being introduced in Edinburgh?
  • There is danger of traffic being displaced to side-streets.
  • Independent experts have suggested that CEC’s assumptions underpinning the current plans are likely to be flawed. In any case, these assumptions should be published.
  • There has not been enough information/consultation.
  • There is a need to maximise public space outside the cathedral, while meeting other requirements.
  • Residents are reluctant to accept the gyratory while CEC seeks to reduce traffic levels.

A second resident opposition-coordinator added

  • Design principles for PP clearly mandate better public space, and improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.
    • However, these are not reflected in the current plans.
    • Instead, this is a poor update on tram plans from 2009, with the addition of a few facilities for cyclists.
    • The number of pedestrian crossings is set to increase, leading to a ‘nightmare’ for pedestrians.
  • It appears that CEC is not using its own traffic figures to model around the assumption that traffic will reduce.
    • Planning work on a wider city-centre transformation scheme, including reduction of city-centre traffic, is due to start, so this work should postponed so it can be planned to fit with that wider scheme.

4.1.3     Further discussion

  • A Welsh stated concern that the current plans are PP predicated on the planned tram interchange on Picardy Place. 18 different services (so more than 100 vehicles per hour at times) will use this interchange, leading to a bottleneck and much congestion. AW stated that Elm Row would be a far better location for the interchange.
    • It was later noted that the relevant Act of Parliament constrains where stops and interchanges may be.
  • L Press pointed out that people changing from bus to tram will need to cross the road onto the island, further exacerbating the bottleneck.
  • A Welsh suggested that CEC wished to start work on PP now for fear that the GAM investment from the Scottish Government would be withdrawn.
  • IM suggested that it might be argued that starting the work now would lead to the work being finished sooner – and that residents may favour this, because the Leith programme and St James have led to ‘endless’ roadworks.
    • A resident opposed this, stating that concern isn’t about delays, it’s about getting the design right. However, there is no information on the consequences of delays available to the public.
    • Another resident stated that if the tram extension goes ahead, there will be more roadworks anyway, so the PP work should be done then to minimise the duration of roadworks.
  • Another resident commented that PP work should not be just about transport, but also about people and place.
  • C Ross asked whether the GAM mandates a deadline for the work. (IM suggested that CEC’s desire to go ahead implies that there is.) A resident reported lack of transparency in the form of responses from CEC’s Director of Place.
    • A resident stated that, according to an article in The Ferret, costs of around £20m will move from the developer to CEC if the money isn’t spent soon.
  • A Jack concurred that CEC should either explain why it cannot give details of the GAM, the public transport plans – or, preferably, give details and demonstrate the advantages of the current plans over other options.
    • R Price commented that SWECO had been quite open about modelling, but that it appeared to be operating under some constraints that lead to ‘disallowing’ of other options.
    • A resident questioned the assumptions used in the modelling. 2015 traffic levels had been used, but this may not have taken into account, for example, extra traffic from the 1600 parking places at St James Centre, diverted bus-routes, effect of increased pedestrian footfall as PP becomes a destination of choice.
    • Another resident suggested that plans should take into account future possibilities, via a published ‘sensitivity analysis’. At the moment, citizens are just speculating without proper data from CEC.
  • Another resident commented that any other organisation would need to publish options.
    • I Mowat contrasted the approach to PP with the very open and engaged approach around George St.
  • An NTBCC member suggested that the south section of Leith Street should be for buses, cycles and taxis only. However, it was noted that other NTBCC members (and a resident) wish it to be open to all other traffic types.
  • Another resident stated that the overall plan for Edinburgh’s city centre isn’t being made clear – and possibly not even being thought about.

Action: NTBCC to add the ‘range of options/flexibility’ issue, and the necessity for CEC to publish and explain its assumptions to NTBCC’s draft submission.

  • Action: A Jack to begin redrafting, but to maintain the 5 numbered points above, and to note that no CEC councillors attended this public discussion

4.1.4     Related issues

A resident noted that there is a TRO about Leith St, to change some of it into pedestrian and cycle routes. In his opinion, this plan is poor. (Another resident added that removing bus-lanes would be counter-productive.)

  • Action: resident to supply his draft objection to NTBCC, who will consider whether to object similarly.

The same resident noted that developers claim that Elder Street junction needs to remain a 2-stage crossing, but this is poorly designed and does not prioritise active travel

4.2         Diesel surcharge

Most discussion centred on the idea that parked cars don’t pollute, and that the proposed surcharge was just a plan to increase CEC’s coffers. While NTBCC members concurred with the ‘polluter pays’ principle, it was suggested that any changes should be revenue-neutral. Also, only vehicles that pollute worse than others should be surcharged.

J Hugh pointed out that Edinburgh zones 1 to 4 are due to become controlled parking zones. This is likely to cause his area (Zone 6) to become swamped with cars escaping these controls.

  • R Price pointed out that the low-emission zone plans should deal with such issues.
  • Action: A Jack to draft a response based on the above.

5           Planning

5.1         Royal Bank of Scotland site planning application

R Price reported that an amendment was submitted by GVA on 4 November. Comments/objections need to be in by 15 January. Residents’ views will be sought via Friends of King George Vth Park (KGVP), and via Fettes Row and Royal Crescent  Residents’ Association. It was noted that the new plans do not propose changes to the section fronting Eyre Terrace, and no real changes to the northern part of Dundas St

RP suggested that the major changes (on Fettes Row and Royal Crescent) are due to objections by NTBCC, residents and Historic Environment Scotland (HES). He prefers further reduction in the heights of these parts, although these may already be roughly compliant with HES’ conditions.

  • A resident disagreed, but RP pointed out that both the resident and NTBCC wished further reductions in height.
  • The resident also stated that the new plans made no reference to the Colinton fault, or to the geological report that led to introduction of a retaining wall.
  • A Welsh and the resident were concerned that there are not enough doctors, primary schools etc, and that there will be too much traffic, while AW was concerned that there would be affects on KGVP.
  • The resident was also concerned that the plans make no visual sense, and that the current plans are a smokescreen to enabled higher buildings than permitted.
    • RP responded that this outline plan defines massing, height, footprint, etc, and that NTBCC (& would hope that Edinburgh Council also) will act to hold later plans to within whatever receives planning permission.
  • It was suggested that the plans should contain heights above sea-level, to ensure an accurate datum.
  • R Price noted that the planning officer will consider all comments and objections already received.
    • Hence new comments and objections should focus on new features in the new plans, but can refer to previous submissions.
  • A resident noted that there is much repetition in the new documents. I Mowat noted that there is an executive summary at the start of one of the documents. Action: R Price to put a summary on NTBCC’s website.
  • RP noted that he is disappointed that the plans still envisage 400 housing units, achieved by reducing the average unit size. The numbers of parking spaces have reduced, which should reduce traffic issues, but 400 housing units on this site is too much. Instead there should be few housing units and more mixed use, and hence some employment to replaced that lost by RBS’ evacuation of the site.
    • A resident concurred, noting that the current plans would lead to around 1300 people living on the site. RP noted that Edinburgh Council Economic development supported  the need for some office use of the site.
  • Action: NTBCC to finalise its reaction to this issue in its January meeting.

5.2         Royal High School

R Price reported that NTBCC members have met with Edinburgh World Heritage and the Cockburn Association. They have submitted a joint appeal statement challenging the developer’s submission. (Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS) have chosen to be represented separately.) The next stage will be a Pre-examination meeting in early 2018 – this will cover all four relevant appeals (both planning permission and Listed Building Consent for both schemes).

  • RP noted that the matter has been formally called in by the Scottish Government (SG), so a Reporter will not determine the appeal but will make recommendations to SG. Hence lobbying may be best directed towards SG.

5.3         World Heritage site in Edinburgh

R Price reported that CEC has approved the plan for management of the World Heritage site. This plan includes actions including informing design quality by producing specific design guidance and place briefs.

5.4         Ross Pavilion

R Price reported that there appears to be a  disagreement between the benefactosr and CEC, over who controls activities at the bandstand. The benefactor is hence reconsidering whether to fund the scheme.

6           Licensing

F Wasoff reported that two licencing objections, agreed in November, were submitted. FW attended the licensing board (LB) – both cases were continued to enable site visits investigate whether they would cause noise-nuisance.

6.1         Licensing board policy

J Finn circulated the following:

The Licensing Board are carrying out their triennial review of their Statement, which sets out their policy over the next 3 years. They have decided to review their policy on –

  • Children
  • Outdoor areas
  • Pop-up bars
  • Extending occasional licences from their existing 2 week maximum
  • Overprovision
  • Extended hours events

The Licensing sub-committee met to discuss other areas we would like them to review, and came up with the following list.  We would like the CC to consider whether these are appropriate, and whether there are other areas we should ask the Board to consider.

  1. Better access for the public to licence variations and new licences, both in terms of availability of the information and the quantity of information provided. (1 sentence not enough, need access to operating plan, better notification, need material to be online)
  2. A clear statement on how the public can make a complaint about noise or other nuisance from a licensed premise and how this is progressed by the Council (could increase licensing fees to pay for necessary infrastructure)
  3. An improvement to the recent change in the inaudibility condition, so that the public do not have to demonstrate nuisance, but giving the Council officers a clear objective test.  We would like the issue of vibration as well as noise to be included in the definition. (nuisance is too vague, puts onus on public – unfair. Could we find another LA that does what we want?)
  4. The risk of passive smoking from outside the building, with possible limitations on the amount of smokers at any one time and/or a canopy to ensure smoke does not enter private houses.
  5. A more joined-up approach to table licences (Roads Dept) and alcohol licences, enforcement (environmental wardens) and planning
  6. Overprovision of licensed premises in the First New Town (currently only Grassmarket is seen as overprovided)
  7. A review of the governance and terms of reference of the Licensing Forum, which we do not believe currently complies with the 2005 Licensing Act (doesn’t reflect community
  8. More specific standard licensing hours making specific reference to licensed premises adjacent to residential housing

A resident suggested adding a condition on waste management and recycling.

Decision: NTBCC to ask the board to consider points 1 to 8, and the resident’s suggestion (nem con).

7           Environment

J Finn reported that there were many overflowing bins. L Press suggested that all incidents should be reported to CEC.

Action; L Press to put link to online reporting form on NTBCC website.

8           Communications

Held over to January

9           Neighbourhood partnerships and local residents’ associations

The next NP meeting will take place in January.

10        AOCB

Some NTBCC members attended the recent George St stakeholder event. I Mowat commended the consultation attempts. There will be a public event in mid-January Action: IM to put details on NTBCC website.

B Ryan has been working on Data Protection requirements – to be discussed in January.

11        Date of next meeting

8 January 2018

  • 7pm: Public meeting about Royal Bank of Scotland site
  • 8pm: NTBCC members only – business meeting