NTBCC minutes Monday 12 April 2021

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s ordinary meeting, held via Zoom, on Monday 12 April 2021 at 7pm

Actions and decisions are red italic. ND (‘no dissent’) means that no-one spoke or voted against a decision.

Edinburgh Council has stated that ‘CCs can approve minutes, and take other decisions, remotely’, as so long as they ensure that ‘remote meetings are as accessible to members of the public and (as) well-advertised as possible’.

Technology check

The meeting opened online at 6:45 pm to enable all attendees to connect before the start of business.

1           Attendance/apologies for absence, membership update, précis of meeting

1.a         Attendance

Mike Birch NTBCC, RRCTMA Sheila Warnock NTBCC
David Clarke NTBCC Alan Welsh NTBCC
Laura Graham NTBCC Peter Williamson NTBCC, Picardy Residents Association
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary
Simon Holledge NTBCC Alan McIntosh Broughton Spurtle
Carol Nimmo NTBCC Cllr Max Mitchell Inverleith ward
Jack Hugh NTBCC Cllr Joanna Mowat City Centre ward
Jenni Inglis NTBCC, FRRCA Cllr Hal Osler Inverleith ward
Susan Macinnes NTBCC ~19 residents/visitors
Richard Price NTBCC  

1.b         Apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Susan Duff NTBCC Deidre Henderson NTBCC Stuart McAllister NTBCC

1.c         Précis of this meeting for NTBCC website

There were no volunteers for this.

2           Minutes of March 2021 meeting (via Zoom) and matters arising

Accepted as-is (proposed L Graham, seconded S Warnock, ND)

2.a         Matters arising

  • Action: C Nimmo to collect NTBCC archive material from A Welsh

3           Police Report

See report in appendix 1

4           Date of AGM and date of next business meeting

  • AGM: at start of 14 June 2021 meeting, possibly starting earlier than 7pm.
  • Business meeting: Action: office-bearers to use Doodle poll to find suitable date(s)

5           Transport

See report in Appendix 2. All transport points in this section are by M Birch, unless otherwise noted.

5.a         Review of special NTBCC meeting – Broughton Street and Spaces for People

See also comments by councillors in PDF on NTBCC website.

  • There were regular updates on NTBCC’s website, and NTBCC leafletted ~300 homes to advertise this meeting. It was useful for explaining CEC/SfP plans to a wider audience, and to obtain feedback on both these and NTBCC’s responses.
  • The Canonmills-Broughton St corridor plans went to a special CEC group for review last week. Outcomes were due to be published today. These plans included installing a segregated cycle lane along both side of Bellevue, parts of Rodney St and a small section of Bellevue St. NTBCC was particularly concerned about the Broughton St section of this, and about plans to move 3 loading bays into side-streets.
    • These plans have been accepted by CEC with a small change, namely the Broughton Place loading bay remaining. There will be loading bays on Forth St and a side-street off Rodney St. The former is a narrow, residential street. The bay will take up 2 former parking bays. The bay outside Real Foods will remain.
    • There is no significant pavement widening on Broughton St in the approved plans, despite many calls for this via the Commonplace mapping consultation and approval by CEC transport and environment.
    • Broughton roundabout will have pavement-widening, removal of some railings and some road-narrowing.
    • At Canonmills, a lane will be removed to allow for a widened pavement. This may cause congestion towards Inverleith Place, as may removal of the right-turn into Eyre Place. Hence NTBCC calls for monitoring of these temporary, experimental changes, and must feed relevant information back to CEC officials and councillors.
    • Cllr Mowat: I have contacted Picardy Residents Association and a Broughton St business about moving loading bays to residential streets. Lorries may not legally reverse back onto Broughton St, so would have to go via narrow back-streets. When I raised this, I was told that the Forth St bay would not be used often.
    • Cllr Mowat: please advise me of problems arising from these changes.
    • A resident: I have concerns about NTBBCC’s suggestion of cycle-lanes on London St, presumably removing parking.
    • NTBCC wishes a better link between Bellevue and Dublin St. This isn’t part of the current SfP plans. Anything affecting parking must be considered very carefully
    • Overall, NTBCC now has a better understanding of community wishes, and contacts with residents and businesses.
    • Action: B Ryan, R Price, M Birch to précis meeting on website

5.b         NTBCC response to consultation on retaining Spaces for People measures

  • NTBCC responded on the quality of the consultation, and the measures in its area. This response was the subject of an Evening News article. The plans will go to CEC transport and environment ctte in June. NTBCC will wish to send a deputation, as may many other CCs.
    • Action: M Birch to advise CEC that it wishes to send a deputation
    • Cllr Osler: send written deputations to all parties ~1 week in advance, so they can consider them before meetings.

5.c         East London Street – buses Issues

  • Traffic will be diverted here when Broughton St is closed for tram-work. There are already issues here due to closure of Annandale St and McDonald Rd, leading to more buses here. There are ‘intolerable’ problems for residents, due to a combination of setts and speed-bumps with double-decker buses. There needs to be a future-proof review of the use of this street. Modelling by the trams team shows significant congestion here when Broughton St is closed. Pollution from this would be harmful, particularly for nearby school-pupils. The trams team is working on a relevant plan.

5.d         Trams update – road closures and diversions

  • Plans for moving the tram-stop from York Place to Picardy Place were due in March – they are now due by the end of April. The trams team is currently modelling traffic around an interim plan. This is welcome because previous modelling was based on 2018 data. NTBCC hopes that new modelling will take account of the St James Centre reopening. CEC is under pressure due to this, tram project, reopening of city centre economy, SfP, active travel, city centre transformation. NTBCC must ensure that residents’ voices are heard: Edinburgh has many city-centre residents.
    • Trams TROs consultation starts on 13 April. This is for 28 days, covering all of the route. There is a separate TRO about banning left-turns from Leith Walk onto London Rd. NTBCC understands the need to improve this junction for pedestrians and cyclists but is not convinced this is the best solution.

5.e         Other points

  • Living Streets is holding a half-day virtual walking summit on 21 April. Please register via its website.
  • A resident is due to contact councillors about damage by buses to London Rd road surfaces.

6           Environment

6.a         Natural Environment Group

  • S Holledge: The Natural Environment Group held a Zoom meeting with David Jamieson, CEC Parks & Greenspaces Manager, on 10 March. He was accompanied by his assistants, Andrew Skirving (Edinburgh Million tree Project) and Linda Anglin (Thriving Greenspaces Project). We enjoyed a wide-ranging discussion about Edinburgh’s greenspaces.
  • S Holledge: To continue our series of informal afternoon conversations, we have invited Sarah Murphy and Mike Shields of CEC Parks & Greenspaces, to meet us on Wednesday, 14 April at 3pm, to talk about the set up and operation of ‘Friends of Parks’ organisations. (All are welcome.)

6.b         Waverley Valley

  • Action: P Williamson and S Hajducki to meet about this

6.c         Refuse

  • P Williamson and J Hugh will soon meet with CEC head of waste services, to get update on communal bins project.
    • Cllrs Mowat and Mitchell: the next CEC transport and environment meeting is on 22 April. Papers will be out 1 week before, including a report on how the project will proceed. It is unlikely to contain detailed decisions. Reviews of areas with communal bins will start with Marchmont. Decisions are likely to be in quarter 4 next year
    • Action: NTBCC members to forward to PW/JH relevant questions.

6.d         Picardy Place island

  • P Williamson: I was approached [by CEC] for my thoughts on wider public engagement about this roundabout. I have suggested there are two stages: (1) NTBCC organises engagement with residents and local bodies to consider the overall concept; (2) use of CEC consultation hub to get real voting on preferred options. NTBCC needs to understand CEC’s actual position, i.e. whether any consultation findings will be ignored.
    • P Williamson: there are also some major health and safety issues about this gyratory.
    • C Nimmo: I look forward to more engagement. CEC may want to hear only about aesthetics – it’s not a big space.
    • A resident: I do not have much confidence in how CEC frames its consultations on the consultation hub. NTBCC will need to control any consultation process so it genuinely ascertains local views and is not leading.
    • P Williamson: I concur: CEC questionnaires have had poor methodology, leading questions and missing questions. I will not be involved with such poor efforts. All that is needed is to get votes on ~3 options. Simple ranking or yes/no questions would work. Open-ended questions would be unhelpful. Then the findings must feed into actual actions.
    • C Nimmo: CEC councillors have been poorly served by CEC consultations. There appears to be no standard.
    • B Ryan: LeithChooses used the CEC consultation hub, but the LC steering group wrote the questions and had ‘editorial control’. Can Cllr Mowat facilitate NTBCC having such power over a relevant consultation?
    • Cllr Mowat: I will look into what CEC is doing. NTBCC should work out what it needs to know. There is no point in getting opinions on unaffordable plans – people are bored of consultations whose results can’t be delivered. CEC may not have relevant change-management expertise. There may be other ways for finding local opinions.
    • D Clarke: does CEC follow best practices in its consultations? How are they organised?
    • Cllr Mowat: it varies from case to case. I do not believe a standard is applied universally. Some consultations are done by professional external organisations. CEC has the dilemma of being seen to spend on such external expertise or doing poor consultations.
    • Cllr Osler: CEC is legally bound to consult on many things, but is not bound to follow the outcomes. Consultations may be extra to CEC officials’ roles, and they may not be trained to do consultations. Leading questions may result from lack of seeking independent results. CEC has consulted on many things recently, leading to confusion about new projects and resulting actions – cllrs are also struggling.
    • M Birch: I favour coming up with some realistic ideas for Picardy Place, then seeking community views on these. Asking about this island will lead to discussion about the overall space. We know the tram-stop plans have changed. Also, the change of level here makes accessible routes difficult. It is hard to satisfy competing wishes.
    • P Williamson: It’s not just about aesthetics – it’s about functionality, e.g. cycling, walking, connection to surroundings.
    • D Henderson: it’s important to understand the spaces limitations, and what is actually possible (and not possible).
    • C Nimmo: moving of cycle paths and footpaths is unlikely. Desire-lines are not yet known

6.e         Public Spaces Management Plan Group

S Holledge: NTBCC members who contributed to the PSMP ‘collaborative engagement’ (including Laura Graham, Steve Hajducki, Deidre Henderson, Simon Holledge, Carol Nimmo and Richard Price) have been invited to join the stakeholders group meetings, scheduled on 21 April, 19 May, 23 June and 21 July. Unfortunately the scope of this has been restricted to events and filming, not all public spaces.

6.f          EACC meeting on Carbon Neutrality Edinburgh 2030: what it means and how we get there

S Holledge: All NTBCC members are invited to attend the EACC Zoom on 22 April at 7pm. Guest speakers include Dr Sam Gardner, Chair Edinburgh Climate Commission, Øystein Leonardsen, Senior Advisor to the City of Copenhagen, Paula McLeay, CEC, Prof. Sandy Halliday, author of Sustainable Construction (2018), and Karine Hertzberg, Special Adviser, City of Oslo. The Eventbrite link for this meeting is at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/carbon-neutrality-edinburgh-2030-tickets-150301667333

7           Planning

See also planning report on NTBCC website. R Price reported, except where otherwise noted.

7.a         IMPACT/Dunard Centre

  • This is the venue-building planned for behind Dundas House. Planning approval had been obtained but the St James owners took legal action, leading to this development being paused. The Dunard developers are now working on a new application – this will be presented to NTBCC planning committee in early May and the June NTBCC full meeting.
    • D Clarke: does this mean that St James effectively has a veto on this development?
    • In public, St James challenged CEC’s interpretation of CEC policies. There has been much private discussion too.
    • C Nimmo: St James is a Growth Accelerator Model project.
    • Cllr Mowat: the original issue was over access by vehicles of a pedestrianised space. St James then asked for judicial review. The application did contravene a number of CEC policies. Then both sides took confrontational stances before being persuaded to negotiate a solution: both would benefit from the other’s presence.

7.b         New Town Quarter/RBS site

  • The planning applications have been approved, and a legal agreement is being developed. Tree-removal has gone ahead. exact route & form of the ‘Active travel’ cycle path through King George V park is (KGV) still under consideration. There is concern about potential clashes between pedestrians and cyclists. NTBCC and some of the Friends of the Park were involved in initial discussions but we have yet to see the outcome of those discussions, i.e. the final proposal.
  • The applications that have been approved will not be reflected in the actual buildings: the planned hotel is no longer wanted. So a further application is expected.
    • J Inglis: I have tried to raise with CEC inaccuracies in their information about the size of KGV park: it does not meet the ‘large green space’ standard. (CEC says otherwise) I fear further decisions based on such incorrect information.

7.c         108-116 and 118 Dundas St

  • There have been many objections to this proposal. The applicants have considered the feedback received, and made some changes. In R Price’s view, the ‘before’ and ‘after’ plans are broadly similar, and NTBCC’s concerns have not been addressed. Comments can be submitted to CEC up to 21 April. NTBCC would like to understand the Cockburn Association’s (CA) position on this proposed development.
    • A resident: new drawings appeared on 23 March. However, notification of this to people who had commented previously – and of the 21 April deadline for further comments – was not given by CEC. The deadline for determination by CEC is April 15 – before the period for comments ends. An explanation would be appreciated.
    • Cllr Mitchell: Please email me details asap. I will then raise this issue with the planning officer.
    • NTBCC has also not received notification. However, this planning officer is normally reasonable so a short extension may be granted.
    • J Inglis: does NTBCC plan to meet with the World Heritage Trust (WHT) as well as the CA? WHT’s views on plans for this area are similarly contradictory
    • NTBCC knows CA better, so wil start with it. NTBCC needs to build a relationship with the new EWT director.

7.d         39 London St

  • This is an apartment above the sauna, and some basements. It was on the CEC committee agenda this month. Draft reports by the planning officer cover the street-level flat and the basements – and recommend approval of both applications, which would turn buildings that have been unoccupied for many years into short-term lets. There have been many objections. There have been discussions about ownership of the garden that’s accessible from the basements. The applicant (who owns the basements) claims full ownership but someone else has been tending the garden. Hence the PO needs to find out who does actually own it. Then the CEC committee can make a decision.
    • A resident: I watched the CEC meeting – the discussion was not about general issues but about whether commotion in the garden would discommode other nearby owners, and about ownership of the gardens. There appears to be a new owner who is not the applicant. The reality is that this garden will be popular with short-term tenants, leading to much disturbance to many nearby tenement owners. The PO has stated that barbecues will not disturb anyone – I find this very unlikely.

8           Licensing

  • S Duff: There is nothing to report on new applications for permanent licenses, or variations of these.
  • S Duff: There are applications for occasional licenses for 133 Rose St (for bar meals and drinks, 26 April to 20 June) and Calton Hill ‘Lookout’ restaurant (drinks on the terrace). I do not believe either will be problematic

9           Complaint procedure

  • C Nimmo: see circulated document (now on NTBCC website).
    • M Birch: it appears that NTBCC’s comments on the 2020 draft of the new procedure have all been incorporated.
    • Action: NTBCC members to check the relevant section

10        Engagement and communications

  • S Holledge: The Communications & Engagement Committee met on 23 March. It was agreed that the work to consolidate the archives would resume after pandemic restrictions were eased. Carol Nimmo kindly offered to collect those papers now in the care of Alan Welsh.
  • S Holledge: On 29 March, NTBCC held its first ever special meeting devoted to Broughton Street and Spaces for People. An NTBCC Transport Committee leaflet was distributed to approximately 300 residents and businesses around Broughton Street, and pdfs of the leaflet were sent to all the residents’ associations in the NTBCC area.

11        Treasurer’s report

M Birch: NTBCC accounts for 2019-20 have been submitted. R Price and I are now working on the 2020-21 accounts, for review at the 2021 AGM. CEC has confirmed that 2021 AGMs can be held virtually, including approval of accounts. I plan to give NTBCC quarterly spending updates.

12        Any other business

12.a       Turning tunnel in park into skateboard venue

See photos on NTBCC website. All points were made by a resident unless otherwise noted.

  • Photo 1 shows the currently disused, derelict railway tunnel off King George V park (KGVP), aka Scotland St tunnel. I understand it’s now blocked off at Harvey Nichois foundations.
  • My organisation, DIY Skatepark (all volunteers), first build a skateboarding venue in Seafield (photo 2).
  • This was then destroyed by vandals, so we build another ‘legitimate’ one – also on derelict waste land (photo 3).
  • There are many benefits to urban sports – it’s an increasing sector – so DIY Skatepark would like to lease the KGVP tunnel. This would be an ideal location, being so central and yet currently unused. Photo 5 shows how it might look
  • Photos 6 and 7 show a precedent: ‘House of Vans’ (HoV) in London.
  • Ours would be a non-profit venture, and not as large as HoV. It would have a café and gallery space. It would benefit the area by promoting its use in the evening.
    • C Nimmo: how much depth of tunnel would you want.
    • Resident: as much as regulations and safety requirements permit. We would like to meet with the fire service to ascertain this.
    • Cllr Mowat: some time ago, I worked with another councillor to try to convert this tunnel into a youth centre. It is possible to get past the Harvey Nichois foundations and arrive at Waverley. I can help put you in contact with relevant people. There are various practical considerations.
    • C Nimmo: please keep NTBCC informed of this.
    • FoKGVP rep: I’m happy to talk with you about this idea – I have information that may help.

12.b       Hustings

  • A McIntosh: the Spurtle is holding a virtual hustings for Edinburgh North & Leith on 20 April. More details are due very soon.

12.c       Other points

  • D Henderson: Drummond Community High School is looking for a new head teacher to start in August.
  • D Henderson: The SG short-term lets working group meeting papers are now online. PLACE Edinburgh will be represent urban residents. There will also be a representative of rural/remote communities. The next meeting will be on 13 May. Residents should look at the minutes available, and feed into the process.
    • M Birch: What is the role of Chris McKie of CEC? We need to make sure that residents are properly heard.
    • D Henderson: there are people from many different backgrounds. He is a ‘regulatory officer’ in governance and administration.
    • S Holledge: EACC is holding a special meeting on carbon neutrality, with international representatives. Everyone is welcome to register via Eventbrite.

13        Appendix 1: police report

This is your report for the period of 8th March 2021 to the 8th April 2021 for your area.

Again another quiet month in respect of crime in the New Town, you will be pleased to hear, with only 1 Vandalism, no Housebreakings of a domestic or business nature and 1 minor assault.  But what about the rest of the City I hear you say???

With the ‘Stay at Home’ restriction now lifted and school holidays upon us, we have seen an increase in youth calls across the City Centre. I am sure most of you will have read about the large scale disorder in The Meadows resulting in members of the public and police officers being injured.  We now have dedicated officers investigating this, apprehending the culprits as I write this.

As a result of this, we will have a cast of thousands (not literally but as many officers as we can muster!) in the Meadows weekends to prevent any disorder.

Not content with gathering in large groups some youths have damaged buses, which forced Lothian buses to suspend some of their evening routes for safety purposes.  In response to this, my esteemed colleagues became passengers in a decoy bus deployed around the city, resulting in 28 youths being charged for various disorder offences and 500 youths engaged with over the course of the operation.

Discussions are also underway with our Alcohol Licensing Department in preparation for the opening of licensed premises on the 26thApril.  This is to ensure we are all aware of the regulations and so everyone can enjoy hospitality safely and responsibly.

We continue to receive reports of Breach of Covid regulations, however, they are decreasing as the restrictions ease…we are almost there folks!

Kind Regards, PC Lynsay Claxton

14        Appendix 2: Transport report

14.a       Spaces for People

14.a.i    Broughton Street and Spaces for People

We held a very useful and well attended special meeting by Zoom on 29 March 2021 to update local residents and businesses about the Spaces for People plans for our area and obtain feedback on both the Council proposals and our own response. We also highlighted the ongoing consultation regarding the retention of these measures and encouraged attendees to contact their local Councillors and others to express their views and participate in future plans for our community. Prior to the meeting almost 300 leaflets about the plans for Broughton Street had been distributed mostly on Broughton Street and adjacent roads. Several posts were added to the NTBCC website to highlight the issues and our stance. We understand that the plans for the corridor from Canonmills to Broughton Street have now been submitted for final approval. Subject to approval being given, it is planned that the changes will be implemented from early May.

14.a.ii   Retaining Spaces for People Consultation

The NTBCC responded to this consultation with both feedback on the quality of the survey and comments on the specific measures implemented or planned in our area. A copy of that response was posted on the NTBCC website which was picked up by the Evening News for an article that appeared on the 8 April 2021. Analysis of the responses to the consultation is due to be presented to the Transport and Environment Committee meeting in June. It is proposed that we indicate our interest in making a deputation to the meeting in support of our views. It is likely that many Community Councils and other groups will be seeking the opportunity to make deputations in view of the strength of feelings on this subject.

14.b       Tram Works

14.b.i    Picardy Place Work and Traffic Management Plans

We have not received any further information in response to our request for confirmation of the timing of and consequences in terms of road closures and diversions for this phase of the Tram project, which will relocate the tram stop from York Place to Picardy Place. We have been promised a response by the end of April. We are also in discussion with the Trams team on the impact of the work on Leith Walk on East London Street and other residential streets to the west of Leith Walk.

14.b.ii   Traffic Regulation Orders

The expected issue of the TROs for the whole route before the end of March did not happen but it has just been announced that a period of public consultation will commence on 13 April for 28 days. The Council has closed its consultation on another TRO that was required to ban the left-hand turn from Leith Walk on to London Road. Although the NTBCC supports the improvements to the junction for pedestrians and cyclists we have objected to the TRO, as we were concerned that the banning of the left-hand turn would result in further congestion around Picardy Place especially with the reopening of the St James Quarter later this year.

14.c       Living Streets

Living Streets Scotland is holding a half-day virtual Walking Summit on 21 April. If you are interested you can register through Eventbrite or the Living Streets website at: www.livingstreets.org.uk/scotlandwalkingsummit

Mike Birch, 9 April 2021