NTBCC minutes – Monday 13 August

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s ordinary meeting, held in the Drummond Room, Broughton St Mary’s Church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 13 August 2018 at 7:30pm

1 Attendance and apologies for absence

Judy Conn NTBCC secretary Alan McIntosh Broughton Spurtle
Margaret Duffy NTBCC PC Chris Green Police Scotland
Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer, licensing convenor Deidre Brock MP Edinburgh North & Leith
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Cllr Joanna Mowat City Centre ward
Simon Holledge NTBCC Jennifer Longstaff Broughton Primary Parents
Jack Hugh NTBCC Sandra Rathjer Broughton Primary Parents
Stuart McAllister NTBCC Carl Baker Collective Architecture
Ian Mowat NTBCC Nicola McLachlan Collective Architecture
Carol Nimmo NTBCC chair Collette McKenna CEC
Richard Price NTBCC planning convenor Elaine Watson CEC
Chrissie Ross NTBCC Neil Watts CEC
Fran Wasoff NTBCC 2 residents/visitors

1.1 Apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Susan Macinnes NTBCC
Foysol Choudhury NTBCC Lewis Press NTBCC
Andrew Haddow NTBCC Alan Welsh NTBCC
Allan Jack NTBCC Bruce Ryan NTBCC Minutes Secretary

Carol Nimmo welcomed everyone, including Sheila Warnock, adopted as a new member representing Great King Street residents.

2 Minutes of meeting of 11 June 2018 & Matters Arising

These were accepted without changes (Proposed F Wasoff, seconded M Duffy, nem con)

3 Police

PC Chris Green reported

  • 10 pedi-cycle thefts in July throughout the area. (He suggested use of better ‘D’ locks for bikes instead of chains);
  • a male arrested attempting a car break-in in Albany Street (22 July);
  • car break-ins on Regent Terrace and Carlton Terrace (23-24 July);
  • ‘skimming device’ discovered on a Princes Street Barclays ATM (involving card cloning and PIN collection);
  • two house break-ins (23 and 30 July).

C Nimmo: raised the problem of car security on the Calton Hill Terraces, especially Regent Terrace. In addition to incidents mentioned by PC Green, there were another 10 previous incidents from the beginning of the year to mid-summer, for a total of 14 or 15 in total. Residents had contacted the police’s David Kent and Sam Campbell. Also one car destroyed by a fire, now a ‘write-off’.

  • PC Green: noted it wasn’t confirmed how the car fire had started. Regarding the incidents in general, Police had done door to door enquiries. They were looking at using CCTV in the ‘wider area’. They would not give up, but the area was residential. Perhaps the lighting could be improved?
  • S Holledge: noted that Regent Terrace was relatively dark at night. Could the area have priority in the early rollout of new improved LED lighting by CEC? Cllr Mowat and PC Green agreed the LED lighting would have a better colour, better spread of light, and be better for CCTV.

Action: Cllr Mowat to pursue with CEC

4 Presentation: Powderhall Consultation Update (CEC/Collective Architecture

C Nimmo: introduced the group. NTBCC agreed to allow photos of the meeting.

  • N McLachlan (Collective Architecture): They were working with the Council to prepare a plan (Place Brief), and had held two consultations in June, with the next one due at the end of August. The first consultation was seeking community views about life in Powderhall. Initially they were learning and gathering information, rather than coming in with proposals. Consultations had been held at the McDonald Road library and the primary school. Over the 2 days, approximately 300 attended (there was online contact), and 92 questionnaires were collected. Results were shown in a series of graphs. (More details are available on https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/powderhall.
  • Factors which were rated highly were natural (green) space and an area where people felt safe, while traffic and an area where housing supported the needs of the local community were negatives. She read out some individual responses received; key comments were meeting spaces for social interaction, fear of losing green space and excitement for the proposal of the existing ’stable block’ (fronting Broughton Road) as a hub providing flexible workspaces and community space. She also explained the process through to December.
  • R Price: asked if there was an idea of what was going to be on that site and how they would manage expectations between aspirations expressed and the final proposal?
  • N McLachlan: replied that this would be at the next consultation. Options would be presented for further feedback. Social housing was understood to be needed.
  • N Watts (CEC): There were three core opportunities: social housing, nursery and creative spaces/café. These were core aspirations.
  • R Price: asked when firm ideas would be on the table, would it be in December, asked whether there be any public consultation between August and December.
  • N McLachlan: . . . said it needed to be agreed by the CEC Planning Dept.
  • N Watts: said the non-statutory consultation phase would run until December and there would be no designs before then. They were hoping to get ideas about footprints, where facilities might go etc.
  • A McIntosh: said it was necessary to know and understand the local history relating to Broughton Primary where space around the school had been squeezed due the extension built in the playground (after the sale of 154 McDonald Road) and the use of the bowling greens as replacement green space.
  • N Watts: acknowledged that there had been a lot of feedback on that subject.
  • D Brock: asked whether relocating the nursery could potentially free-up accommodation for the primary school. She had also been involved in making the bowling green available for use by the school. Were there any legal reasons why the nursery couldn’t accommodate shared use with the primary school?
  • E Watson, CEC: stated the nursery would need its own dedicated, secure garden area, though didn’t mean it couldn’t necessarily be used by the school as well. If the nursery relocated to the bowling green, it would release part of the playground. CEC were developing new standards for playgrounds. All the ex-bowling greens were still designated as Open Spaces.
  • It was asked whether the whole consultation would be published on the CEC hub
  • N McLachlan: agreed but explained that they didn’t have permission to publish comments.
  • R Price: believed the overall data, showing patterns etc, should be publishable and would be useful.
  • C Nimmo: asked whether the NTBCC could be told about any publication.
  • A McIntosh: asked about transport issues.
  • N Watts: explained they were in contact with the Transport Dept. about cycle ways, bus frequency etc.
  • N McLachlan: noted more traffic could also be problematic.
  • R Price: asked whether there had been any consultation with Powderhall Village Owners’ Association or discussions regarding linking any new development with existing Powderhall development.
  • N McLachlan: No contact had been made with adjacent Powderhall residents and direct physical links difficult due to the large change in level.
  • Cllr Mowat: commented about the Place briefs had previously been brought to the Development Management Committee which she had regarded as positive and favourable and this could be restarted for this proposal. Also, it was good to start by asking the community what they want to get people’s support etc.

C Nimmo: thanked Collective Architecture for the presentation.

5 Core Hours for Public Access at Drummond High School (DCHS)

A McIntosh: explained that when Amey and the Council were working out the public/private partnership for Drummond Community High School, it was a complicated contract and the question of the core hours when the public would have access to the playground never got discussed. This was raised back in 2003, and the then education convenor, Ewan Aitken, promised he would renegotiate it with Amey, in order to give teenagers a safe place to congregate. However it has recently become clear that the renegotiation never took place. The core hours which are in the contract are inadequate, particularly for weekends and holidays. At the moment, Amey have been keeping the playground accessible, but they have no contractual obligation to do so.

  • C Nimmo: said the NTBCC would look at this, but was unsure whether it would be a planning, or environment issue, or something else.
  • Cllr Mowat: suggested writing directly to the education convenor Anthony Gray, setting out the concerns and asking if it could be renegotiated.
  • R Price: noted that renegotiation would only formalise what is already happening.
  • Cllr Mowat: agreed that it might be just a small amendment to the contract.
  • R Price: asked whether the whole playground was involved or just access to the enclosed football pitch?
  • A McIntosh: hoped the whole playground would be included.
  • R Price: asked about the parents’ council and whether their view had been sought?
  • A McIntosh: noted they were in favour of maximum access.
  • Action: NTBCC agreed to pursue further with CEC as suggested

6 Transport

6.1 George Street & First New Town (GNT) Design Option Sessions & Consultation

C Nimmo: introduced the topic of the George Street & First New Town (GNT) Design Option Sessions & Consultation (second stage). Her impression was that different NTBCC participants had different experiences in different groups.

  • S Hajducki: attended the morning session on behalf of the Cockburn Association together with World Heritage Site representatives. They covered various aspects: the street as a destination rather than a passing-through place (applicable to cyclists as well as pedestrians), the contradiction of the ‘mad east-west cycle route’ still planned to go along it, the project being design-led rather than traffic-led, protection of the classical symmetry, appropriate scale of paving and street furniture, noise reduction, consideration of night time character as well as day, and essential reduction of traffic (albeit with some allowance for deliveries/parking but with a general understanding that vehicles would be there on sufferance). The designers suggested that areas in front of the Assembly Rooms and St Andrews Church could be pedestrian-marked/paved, pedestrian-priority areas, which he thought might be possible. Edinburgh World Heritage strongly opposed the relocation of statues, and were also against ‘boulevard’ trees on the street (because it was ‘not wide enough’). Events provision was also a concern (as always).
  • S Hajducki: thought that this stage seemed to be expressing vague aspirations. It was hoped that the next stage would entail ‘realistic and detailed’ proposals. These proposals would have to be tied in with everything else being planned in the city centre, and also take account of practical matters like tourism pressure, transport etc.

6.2 City Centre Consultation

  • C Nimmo: wondered whether they were putting the cart before the horse with the city transformation and many matters still undecided. Spending money on George Street in isolation might be ill-advised.
  • Cllr Mowat: was surprised the consultation was still happening. The working group for City Centre Transformation (now called "Edinburgh: connecting our city, transforming our places”) were being told that the projects would all be subject to the more widespread consultation. The devil was in the details, and the details were uncosted. Last Thursday, a document was approved for consultation with “15 ideas”.
  • J Finn: asked whether the consultation was about which of the 15 projects were going to happen.
  • Cllr Mowat: replied that it wasn’t exactly that — more like five ideas each with three things attached. It was a ‘smorgasbord’ of ideas. How it was going to go forward was a bit of a mystery. The two month consultation would begin in September. Daisy Narayanan was leading on this, and it would be good to have her at a future NTBCC to provide more details.
  • J Finn: asked whether the east-west cycle lane was definite?
  • Cllr Mowat: thought everything would ultimately depend on the consultation.
  • S Hajducki: noted the George Street designers were constrained by assumptions about the cycle lanes, even if it contradicted the destination concept.
  • C Nimmo: noted many consultations going on, but doubted whether a lot of people knew about them. How will people be contacted? Would citizens be getting something in the post? These matters concerned everybody using the city centre.
  • Cllr Mowat: had expressed her concern about how to make the consultations meaningful. Many of those who regularly took part in consultations had predictable views. She hoped they could reach out and find ‘new voices’. She had been working with Daisy on reaching more widely through the community.
  • I Mowat: thought the community council could have role in promoting the consultations, especially if the council could help financially by paying for venues etc. He would soon be moving to outwith the NTBCC area so unfortunately would no longer be involved.
  • C Nimmo: noted that the original plan had been to put new infrastructure, electricity and water, under and along George Street, to facilitate quicker set-up of events but which would entail a long closure of the street.

6.3 Tram Extension / Community Councils Together (CCTT)

  • M Duffy: reported no new progress
  • C Nimmo: noted an upcoming meeting on the subject with Adam McVey on 14 August which she would attend.

6.4 Great King Street traffic island

  • S Warnock: referred to the previously-discussed possibility of having a traffic island at the west end of Great King Street and asked whether that was a question for CEC Transport?
  • C Nimmo: said they could follow that up. There was another consultation for the west end of London Street (into Drummond Place).
  • J Hugh: remarked that pedestrian crossings were a problem right across the New Town.
  • Cllr Mowat: explained that £260,000 had been allocated for neighbourhood environment projects of this kind. She wanted to get the funds released.

7 Licensing

J Finn reported

  • There was little of concern. He listed new applications for a new vegetarian restaurant, Tani Modi, in Hanover Street, a café on Broughton Street, a new restaurant on South St Andrew Street, but none of these were concerns; also a variation on arrangements for 51a George St, Opal Lounge. Eden Locke, a restaurant-bar at 127 George Street, wanted to remove the old noise condition and noted that as 127-129 George Street were serviced apartments, owned by the same applicant, he was not inclined to object to the application.
  • J Finn: asked Cllr Mowat whether the new licensing statement was due. Cllr Mowat: reported that another consultation has been agreed, looking at 38 areas of possible over-provision, in relation to antisocial behaviour and alcohol-related hospital admissions. The NHS was keen to be consulted. A number of the areas were in the New Town area.
  • Fran Wasoff: asked where the consultation would be held.
  • Cllr Mowat: explained it would be online (post meeting: now on Edinburgh Council Consultation Hub). Significant questions would be about the regularisation of children’s hours, pop-ups (occasional licenses) and over-provision. They were minded to want to take out legally unenforceable provisions from the last act. The timescale would be to 1 October. She would make sure that J Finn received a copy of the document.

Action: NTBCC to agree their response (J Finn/F Wasoff)

8 Planning

R Price: reported that some applications of previous concern had been withdrawn.

8.1 Canon Mill

The application for redevelopment had been withdrawn (NTBCC had objected).

8.2 RBS Development Dundas St. / Fettes Row / Royal Crescent etc.

The application had been unexpectedly withdrawn with the process now having to be repeated from the beginning. It was disappointing that it took three years to get nowhere. A vacant, deteriorating building remained on the site.

J Finn: mentioned that the CEC planners could be prompted to produce a place brief.

8.3 Baxter Place

  • R Price: reported that the Development Management Committee (DMC) had conducted a site visit recently (with residents and NTBCC in attendance). The premises were clearly already operating in line with the unapproved application — five multi-bedded flats for transient visitors.
  • J Finn: noted that when they went to the Neighbourhood Partnership meeting, short-term lets were discussed. The fire officer present said he would be happy to visit any premises that appeared to be over-occupied. Baxter Place would be an ideal example for this. The fire service could be asked whether the occupation density was safe.
  • R Price: recollected that at least 50 beds were included in the retrospective planning application.
  • It was asked how the problem of fire safety should be handled. Was it for the community council?
  • J Finn: noted that it was not directly under planning.
  • Cllr Mowat: said she would refer the matter to the fire officer [as mentioned by J Finn above].
  • C Nimmo: pointed out that Baxter Place could be a ‘test case’.
  • J Finn: thought it would be good if it was so the public would know there were limits to the number of people could be stuffed into flats.
  • D Brock: offered to also check this with the Council Housing convenor.
  • R Price: noted the lack of apparent concern of the applicant's representative who clearly didn’t think there was a problem with the current operation. The application is scheduled for a hearing at the DMC on 29 August. The community council also objected to the 2 - 3A Blenheim Place application (18/02357/FUL) – the ex RBS branch, for change of use to a Hostel by the same applicant. Again it was a confusing application, an original application for change of use and a subsequent Listed Building Consent application lodged a few weeks later, with many differences between the applications.

Action: NTBCC to submit further comments in support of residents’ concerns to DMC hearing

8.4 Garage at 8 East Scotland Street Lane

R Price: reported yet another application for a change of use (to Class 4) to which we would again object.

Action: NTBCC to submit further objection (R Price)

8.5 Edinburgh Academy

R Price: reported that the applications regarding the extensions had been agreed to go to a hearing by the DMC, but this resulted in further delay in determining the application. The applicants then legitimately appealed to the Scottish Reporter on grounds of non-determination. The Reporter had visited two weeks previously, allowing the residents the chance to put their views forward, to which he at least appeared to be sympathetic. Determination is expected before end August.

8.6 130 East Claremont Street

R Price: reported that 130 East Claremont Street was a commercial site with illuminated adverts directly adjacent to listed buildings. Residents’ objections had resulted in an Enforcement Notice for their removal which then prompted a subsequent retrospective planning application being lodged - which was then refused. This decision (as well as the Enforcement Notice) was appealed to the Scottish Reporter, who essentially dismissed the appeal - reaching, perhaps, a more stringent position that CEC had done. This demonstrated a strong line on what advertisements were acceptable.

8.7 37-39 St Andrew Square

R Price: noted that the community council had agreed to support this application for the repurposing of the buildings (37 - 39 St Andrew Square) between Dundas House and the Edinburgh Grand. AHSS and the Cockburn had submitted representations.

9 Environment

9.1 Waste Forum

C Ross: hoped that the CEC Waste Forum, meeting every three months, would enable two-way communication, in which the community council could have an input.

9.2 Wheelie bins

  • J Hugh: mentioned the wheelie bins in Dundas Street. He asked whether they were permitted ‘to store stinking bins of food on the street. The problem had been going on for 15 months.
  • Cllr Mowat: responded that she had just received a reply on the issue. The original bin had been damaged by the contractor, however there was now a new contractor, new bins, three pick-ups a week, and there would be no smell. She agreed to forward the response to Jack Hugh.
  • J Hugh: also mentioned a complaint from one of the Northumberland Street lanes, where two or three people were leaving out grey wheelie bins, despite a decision to use gull-proof bags.
  • Cllr Mowat: explained that the bins were being collected. There was a history to this issue. Going back to 2003 or 2005, when there was a trial use of bins. Some residents became attached to them and still use them. The complaint was about the bins blocking lane access.
  • 10 Localities, Neighbourhood Partnerships and Local Residents Associations
  • C Ross: reported there had been a Neighbourhood Partnership meeting taking about short term AirBnB regulation and licensing.
  • J Hugh: noted a dialogue between council and government about legislating. The idea would probably follow the registered landlord route. Having them licensed would allow the council to check on tax etc. They were ‘talking about 45 days being the cut-off’.
  • Cllr Mowat: noted that AirBnB were ’pushing for 90 days plus the festival plus Christmas’, i.e. virtually six months.
  • C Nimmo: pointed out that the licensing should have some leeway, otherwise it would be too complicated.
  • Cllr Mowat: said anyone who wanted to let their flat for fewer than 45 days would not need a licence. If someone let their home over the festival and maybe for a week at Christmas, that would be acceptable to the council. She noted that the festival was originally facilitated by people letting flats, as there weren’t enough hotel rooms. They didn’t want to stop that. What they wanted to stop was flats being taken out permanently out of the housing stock.
  • J Conn: remarked that Tokyo were introducing the kind of regulations that govern houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) and this had decimated the number of AirBnBs. She believed that that kind of regulation was absolutely essential.
  • J Finn: remarked that it had been amazing to learn there were estimated to be 10,000 short-term let properties in Edinburgh.
  • C Nimmo: noted that the change of legislation for longer term letting property was now regarded as unfair by landlords and this encouraged short-term lets.

11 Business Meeting September 17th at Elder House

C Nimmo: explained that the venue was Elder House (on the RHS of Elder St. before the bus station). Members would be able to get onto the viewing gallery, to see into St James’s site. Details would be sent out.

12 Any Other Business

12.1 Logo

  • S Holledge: raised his offer to organise a logo creation with a graphic designer. Would there be a budget available?
  • C Nimmo: referred this to the Business Meeting on 17 September.

12.2 Working group on tourism

Cllr Mowat: explained that she was involved in a new working group on the subject of managing the impact of tourism. The first meeting would be on 15 August.

12.3 West Princes Street Gardens

  • C Nimmo: believed the consultation would need to be extended as few people know about it. Everybody thought it was about the bandstand, but in fact it was about the whole of the gardens.
  • J Hugh: noted the bad management of the Summer Sessions, the boarding up of Princes Street, and the take-over of common land, ‘our gardens’, by a concert agency.
  • C Nimmo: thought the ALEO was a dubious model for the city.
  • R Price: thought the community council should agree a position, as the Cockburn Association had done, and send a letter.
  • S Holledge: noted that for the ALEO project to go ahead an amendment would be required to the City of Edinburgh District Council Order Confirmation Act 1991. (The amendment was to allow new buildings in the gardens.) He recommended that the NTBCC should oppose the amendment.
  • C Nimmo: believed that Norman Springford was well intentioned, but neither the community council nor citizens in general realised that the whole of the gardens were going to be given away. She though the issue could be further discussed at the Business Meeting.
  • R Price: thought it would be better to act before then.
  • 12.4 Thanks to Ian Mowat

A presentation was made to Ian Mowat to thank him for his many years as a member of the New Town and Broughton Community Council.

13 Date of next ordinary NTBCC meeting

10 September 2018.