NTBCC Minutes – Monday 11 June 2018

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 June 2018 at 7:30pm

1               Attendance and apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Police Constable #1 (PC#1) Police Scotland
Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer, licensing convenor Police Constable #2 Police Scotland
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Cllr Marion Donaldson Leith Walk ward
Simon Holledge NTBCC Cllr Claire Miller City Centre ward
Allan Jack NTBCC transport convenor Cllr Alasdair Rankin City centre ward
Stuart McAllister NTBCC Bridget Baines Impact Scotland
Susan MacInnes NTBCC Ewan Brown Impact Scotland
Carol Nimmo NTBCC chair Elaine Ravenscroft Impact Scotland
Richard Price NTBCC planning convenor Alasdair Graham David Chipperfield architects
Fran Wasoff NTBCC Johannes Feder David Chipperfield architects
Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary David Anderson

Annick Gaillard

Reiach and Hall Architects

Baxter’s Place resident

 

Alan McIntosh Broughton Spurtle ~10 residents and visitors  

1.1          Apologies for absence

Judy Conn NTBCC secretary Christine Ross NTBCC
Jack Hugh NTBCC Alan Welsh NTBCC
Foysol Choudhury NTBCC Deidre Brock MP Edinburgh North & Leith
Ian Mowat NTBCC    

2               Minutes of meeting of 14 May 2018

These were accepted without changes (Proposed A Jack, seconded R Price, nem con)

3               Police

PC#1 reported

  • Year on year crime numbers have reduced slightly (397 in current year, 426 in previous year)
  • There were 4 break-ins to businesses in the last month, in the Hanover St area.
  • There were 2 thefts of motorcycles.
  • There was an incident involving rough sleepers in Queen St Gardens. This area is now included in morning patrols, and there has been no recurrence. People were also sleeping rough in outbuildings of an unoccupied flat in Union St, but this has not recurred. The police are trying to contact the owner, to get this venue secured.
    • J Finn reported that people have been sleeping rough on the flat roof of a pub, and asked whether this is a police matter, given that access would have been through an electricity substation.
    • A resident reported that a ‘vagrant’ has been sleeping on a bench in Saxe-Coburg St, and asked what procedures might apply, given that he has been reported as a missing person.
    • The PCs replied that they would to speak to the people sleeping on the pub roof, and may be able to return the missing person.
  • The police will reiterate cycle security measures to local flat owners in time for the Festival.
    • They are also working with Essential Edinburgh on bike-marking initiatives.
    • For the Festival, many extra officers will be drafted in from outwith Edinburgh.
    • There is a group of 9 community officers covering the city centre, so under normal circumstances, up to 3 community officers are actively covering the city centre at any one time. (There is also the response team based at the West End police station: up to 5 double-crewed cars, depending on commitments.)
  • A resident asked about begging in the city centre, stating that she had seen contradictory statements about whether the police or the council was responsible. The PC reiterated that begging is a council/legislative issue, unless beggars are aggressive.

4               IMPACT presentation

4.1          Ewan Brown, chair of IMPACT

  • EB thanked NTBCC for the invitation to present. He stated that this is an important project for Edinburgh and Scotland, to maintain Edinburgh as a festival city, and that there have been many attempts to build a mid-sized concert hall in Edinburgh recently, and that, in his view, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra currently has an inadequate venue.
  • He stated that this is a one-off opportunity that has attracted benefactors such as the Scottish Government, UK Government, and Edinburgh Council (via the “City Deal”). They will have a free 120-year lease from RBS and also now own 35 St Andrews Square. This would be the first new arts building in Edinburgh for 100 years.

4.2          Alasdair Graham (David Chipperfield architects)

AG reported on

4.2.1      Massing and situation

  • The main (ovoid) hall’s shape and size are determined by the required acoustics. There are two lower parts for front and back of house.
  • The architects are very conscious of the planned height, which has now been lowered by 3m.
  • The site is very well situated for transport, but the main concern is how to put a public building into the city.
    • The original plan for the new town was for two squares, each with a public building on the east/west axis.
    • Hence the new building needs to be symmetrical along the George St axis.
    • As it has turned out, Charlotte Square has matching buildings but St Andrews Square is very ad-hoc, and he felt that there was a vacancy where a public building should have been.
  • Dundas House is beautiful and historically important, so the plan is to take care of it. Hence the new building should fit with it and its flanking pavilions.
    • The new building will be mostly hidden by Dundas House when viewed along George St, as will the new “W” hotel at the centre of the Edinburgh St James development.
    • The new building will also fit with Register House, creating symmetry and a backdrop.

4.2.2      Architecture

  • The exterior of the main hall will have shallow scallops, but the other parts may not.
  • CEC requires the site to gain as much permeability as possible with neighbouring developments.
    • While an entrance through RBS might be desirable, the bank is likely to remain in place.
    • Given the civic area of St Andrews Square (SAS), and the new development with many parking spaces to the east and the hotel, there will be an opening in the curtilage wall behind Dundas House (36 SAS).
  • The development is designed to be a public venue all day: there will be a café and lots of music on the ground floor.
    • There will also be entrances from the south, north and east, and a connection into the banking hall.
  • There will be minimal impact on Dundas House, and the courtyard in front of DH.
  • The colonnade at the top is to make the building inviting, and to give a ‘performative quality’. It will be partly visible, e.g. from Elder St, but never wholly visible. There will be great views from inside the top of the building.

4.2.3      Performance spaces

  • There will be a major performance space, and a basement rehearsal space that can also be used as a venue (with 200 seats).
  • Spaces can be made bigger by retracting seats. The rehearsal space will also be suitable for educational events.
  • A shoe-box design for the main hall would be too large, as would a ‘vineyard’, so the audience will be around the stage. This can be raised and lowered to suit different types of performance.

4.3          Questions and comments

  • (J Finn) Concerning the possible jarring rectangular front- and back-of-house blocks, there will trees to the north and south. (There are no trees planned for the forecourt.) These trees are not envisaged as huge, but medium-sized, to give continuity to the area. The blocks’ texture, should reduce visual impact.
  • (R Price): are there plans to provide access for large vehicles from St Andrews Square for servicing?
    • The SCO truck is 10m long, and other performers may not need trucks. Access will be above ground, via the hammerhead on Elder St. (There has been consultation with neighbours on this.)
  • (R Price) Are there concerns about excavation?
    • The basement will be offset by at least 2m from neighbouring buildings, and will be 12m deep.
  • (R Price) What about surface finishes?
    • These will be detailed in July, but will essentially be pre-cast concrete pigmented with local stone. This will ensure a high-quality finish, and will take less time to build.
  • (F Wasoff) Can the height be lowered any more?
    • No – acoustics requirements prevent this – it needs to be a world-class venue.
  • (Cllr Rankin) What will the venue’s capacity be?
    • The main hall will have 1000 seats; the ‘rehearsal’ space will have 200 seats.
  • (a resident) What about views from the south?
    • The development will be hidden by General Register House, the Balmoral etc.
  • (F Wasoff) Has there been any progress on access via the archivists’ garden?
    • Such access would be very welcome, but National Registers are protecting their security.
  • The planning application is expected to be submitted in July, and consultation should be in August. Impact has a good working relationship with Edinburgh Council, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh World Heritage etc.

5               Planning

5.1          Baxter’s Place

  • R Price reported
    • Residents are fully aware of the retrospective planning application, and have mobilised local councillors. This is now expected to go to the Development Management Committee (DMC) in August/September for determination. This application would seem to be viewed by the DMC as encompassing wider issues with Short Term (Holiday) lets.
  • Annick Gaillard, resident of Baxter’s Place reported
    • She is the unpaid factor for the relevant buildings, including the common stair at 1 Blenheim Place (BP).
    • Residents had understood that the owner had applied for (& been granted) residential planning permission but the building has become ‘party’ flats, rented via online services. This is commercial use, not permitted residential use.
    • Enforcement by CEC has taken a long time.
    • The owner has now submitted a retrospective application, and the CEC Planning officer had recommended approval but DMC less certain at its initial presentation.
    • The resident stated that there are many concerns, such as smoke, noise, garbage being left around, gutters being blocked, a serious sewage flood, upon which the owner takes no action.
    • The owner has also tried to get residents to use another factor, but most residents are happy with this resident. IT was stated that he has also tried to get residents to withdraw their objections.
    • CEC’s planning officer is not responding to emails and other communications, so this resident has contacted relevant councillors and other CEC staff. A hearing took place at the last DMC meeting, but this apparently focussed on the area having many bars and residents etc, and did not take into account the numbers of residents in this building. Some councillors did ask questions, but a planning officer stated that there had been no complaints. It is now expected to go to a hearings, whilst being  unusual for such small developments, this one was important because of the issues it raised,
    • Furthermore, there is a plan to convert the former RBS at 2 – 3A Blenheim Place (BP) into a hostel – this could use the common stair. Residents fear more noise and lack of safety; they have given this resident permission to represent them.
  • RP advised that as many affected residents as possible submit their objection to this proposal, basing them on material concerns (e.g. residential amenity). The DMC had questioned how CEC policies are applied – e.g. ‘Hou 7’ should be relevant in RP’s view. Edinburgh’s uniqueness is that it has many residents in the city centre.
  • C Nimmo offered NTBCC’s and the nearby residents’ association’s support, and noted that this is a conservation area. Cllr Rankin sympathised with the residents’ concerns.
    • The resident responded that since the nearby Mariott hotel had been in operation, drug and other issues had reduced.
  • Another resident asked whether there are licensing issues, in addition to planning issues.
    • The resident responded that he owner doesn’t sell alcohol, and that the current and planned party flats are not HMOs.
  • Cllr Miller stated that CEC’s short-term lets working group had found no relevant legislation, but she may be able to give more feedback after the WG’s next meeting. CEC may need SG action for such cases.

5.2          RBS

A resident reported that the planning determination meeting has been postponed, and asked how the residents’ association could present their case at the DMC. RP replied that if the meeting did occur, NTBCC could allocate some of their time to the RA.

5.3          Edinburgh Academy (EA)

R Price reported that EA has appealed the 3 applications to the Scottish Reporter on the grounds of “Non-determination” i.e. the statutory period for CEC to determine this has now passed.  CEC has taken over 2 months to respond to this application. RP suggested that CEC’s planning department frequently exceeds the 2 months for determination but normally agrees an extension with the applicants.

6               Transport

6.1          Picardy Place

  • A Jack reported that at recent meeting with CEC, NTBCC requested two action points:
    • Traffic monitoring in Queen St and other streets. CEC has suggested that September would be a suitable time. AJ will keep up pressure for this. (A McIntosh reminded the meeting of previous monitoring failures.)
    • Distinction between decisions that fall into the GAM’s scope and those about public realm. CEC has promised to consult in detail about the latter, but has not yet decided about the precise locations for the Paolozzi sculptures etc.
  • C Nimmo stated that the top of Leith St should reopen on 28 July, according to Martin Perry of THRE, but the “Montrose Gyratory ‘and Calton Terrace Brae will remain closed until early September. This is due to the complicated reversal of the junctions which will take place over 3 weekends. It was not thought feasible to proceed with this work during the Festival.
  • Cllr Miller reported meeting with CEC officers and PP residents’ association: she wishes to avoid duplication of consultation, and has insisted upon being told drop-dead dates. She understands that the contractor has done some work on the public realm, but has not yet found out what has been commissioned. Some design principles have been created – these could be consulted around.
  • CN noted that there was much local desired for the roundabout to be green, but that there were fears that a fait accompli would be imposed.
  • R Price believed that there is time to get this right. A Jack replied that the on-ground layout (pavements, kerbs, etc) comes from the GAM, but anything above that is public realm, and hence is open-ended as far as consultation is concerned.

6.2          CCs together

A Jack reported that neighbouring CCs have agreed to work together as appropriate about the trams proposals. A draft manifesto has been circulated – this very closely reflects NTBCC’s concerns.

  • These include concerns about consultation (i.e. that this should be iterative, not an imposed, short timetable that prevents influence), design philosophy, (lack of) assurance of practical readiness. NTBCC also believes there should be a report on economic impact on local businesses, and a systematic ‘disruption test’. While the manifesto is neither for nor against trams per se, NTBCC is in favour under certain conditions.
  • C Nimmo reported that all involved CCs want the project to benefit from the lessons from the Hardie enquiry, which has not yet published.
  • Action: NTBCC to continue working with other CCs in this way (agreed nem con)

6.3          Parking Action Plan

Action: A Jack to arrange for relevant manager to address NTBCC in September or October (agreed nem con)

7               Licensing

J Finn and F Wasoff reported

  • NTBCC has submitted comments on licensing procedure regulations (mostly about neighbour notification).
  • A restaurant at 32c Broughton Street has applied for a license to sell alcohol. (They currently operate as BYOB.) Cllr Millar stated that this venue has applied for retrospective change-of-use planning permission which had been refused. Action: R Price to follow this up.
  • CEC will undertake a site visit of the Dundas St venue (see May minutes) wishing relaxation of noise conditions.
    F Wasoff spoke on this matter to the licensing board, because NTBCC has objected to this application.

Cllr Millar aims to meet with city centre CCs to understand the changes to licensing policy they wish.

It was noted that tables and chairs permits are issues by CEC’s transport department, not licensing.

8               Environment

J Finn reported on a recent meeting of this NTBCC committee:

  • The waste and cleansing forum receives information from CEC’s W&C department. This seems to be somewhat disorganised (e.g. no meeting papers, follow-up etc).
    • CEC Cllrs present were unaware of this forum. Action: Cllr Rankin to ascertain date of its next meeting.
  • There has been discussion over whether and how NTBCC should work more with Essential Edinburgh.

Action: J Hugh to investigate.

  • Concerning George St (GS), JF received a project update, stating that rescheduled concept design activities will now commence in late August.
    • Inter alia, this update mentions Clean Air day (21 June).
    • A Jack and C Nimmo expressed concern that the GS project is being drawn into transportation projects.
    • Cllr Millar responded that CEC’s transport department has a wider remit than just transport, concurring with A Jack that avoiding contradictions between projects (e.g. GS and east-west cycle link) is desirable. Cllr MacInnnes is the CEC lead for such projects, while Daisy Narayanan has taken up a 1-year secondment to CEC as lead officer on the Central Edinburgh Transformation project.

Action: NTBCC TO INVITE them to FUTURE MEETING.

  • All of NTBCC is in a conservation area, so trees above a certain size are automatically protected.
    • However, R Price remarked that requests for removal/felling (TCO’s) are normally passed by CEC without objection.
  • The meeting noted the connection between transport and conservation issues.

9               Communications

  • Simon Holledge is developing ideas for the website, to be discussed by the Comms committee soon.
  • R Price stated that he and I Mowat have been updating the noticeboard on Broughton St. periodically but responsibility for this in the future needs to be agreed.

10           Neighbourhood Partnerships

Northumberland St and Nelson St Residents’ Association was congratulated on becoming a registered RA.

11           Residents’ Associations

No items

12           AOCB

  • J Finn noted that NTBCC has received its annual grant from CEC.
  • B Ryan was thanked for reducing NTBCC’s domain-name costs.
  • C Nimmo noted that office-bearers met recently, discussing how and where to communicate, the work of subcommittees (e.g. mapping them to CEC committees). This is work in progress, so there will be a business meeting in September.
  • Date of next ordinary NTBCC meeting Monday 13 August 2018.