NTBCC minutes – Monday 14 September 2020

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s public meeting, held via Zoom, on Monday 14 September 2020 at 7pm

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

1 Technology check

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

2 Welcome/NTBCC membership update

2.a Attendance

Mike Birch NTBCC, RRCTMA Richard Price NTBCC secretary
David Clarke NTBCC Sheila Warnock NTBCC, Great King St RA
Susan Duff NTBCC Alan Welsh NTBCC
Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer Peter Williamson NTBCC, Picardy Residents
Laura Graham NTBCC Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Cllr Claire Miller City Centre ward
Deirdre Henderson NTBCC Cllr Gavin Barrie Inverleith ward
Jack Hugh NTBCC, NNSA Cllr Jo Mowat City centre ward
Allan Jack NTBCC, India St Ass’n Cllr Hal Osler Inverleith ward
James Kilner NTBCC Ross McNulty Ediston
Stuart McAllister NTBCC Colin Smith Ediston
Carol Nimmo NTBCC ~20 residents/visitors

2.b Apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Deidre Brock MP Edinburgh North and Leith
Simon Holledge NTBCC engagement officer

2.c Membership update, notice of AGM

The chair noted

  • NTBCC’s AGM will be in October, at the start of its normal meeting, via Zoom.)
  • J Finn will standing down as treasurer and licensing convenor.
  • A Jack will stand down from NTBCC and hence from being NTBCC’s transport convenor.

3 Minutes of 10 August meeting (via Zoom) and matters arising

The draft minutes were approved subject to correction of a minor typo (proposed M Birch, seconded D Henderson, ND)

3.a Matters arising

Item 8. Action: Chair and L Graham to meet about NTBCC’s Instagram account.

4 Police report

No police report was submitted.

  • Action: NTBCC office-bearers to ask for a report, and to make sure there is one for September .

5 Planning

5.a Other matters

  • Deadline for comments on Princes St Gardens ‘Xmas market’ applications is 9 October.
    • Underbelly has submitted 3 applications: one for the topmost strip on Princes St (roughly similar to the 2018 market); one for a barricaded structure on Castle St and from George St to Charlotte Square; one on the High St.
    • The plans are scaled back from the 2019 event, but R Price believes there are still some issues, e.g. around listed buildings, lack of environmental impact assessment (EIA).
    • C Smith (Ediston) noted that the Princes St application is much smaller than the plans that received permission in 2014, which had an EIA.
  • Action: R Price to issue planning report asap

5.b RBS site: presentation by Ross McNulty of Ediston (and Colin Smith)

5.b.i Introduction by R Price (NTBCC planning convenor)

  • There are three planning applications: one covering the whole site; one covering demolition of all existing buildings (because the site is in a conservation area); one covering access from the new development into the park.
    • All of these are live, with final date for comments being 9 October.
  • There is now also a ‘scheme 1’ application, changing the ‘whole site’ application to replace the original proposal for hotel in Dundas St with more residential units.
  • In response to a resident’s concern that he could not access comments on CEC planning portal, CEC is not publishing details to protect personal data. Hence only the numbers of supporting and objecting comments are available.

5.b.ii Actual presentation

  • RM and CS look forward to questions
  • The final information package was submitted to CEC at the end of August. It contains over 400 documents, with much technical information. Hence RM and CS are happy to help people understand what it all means.
    • The information includes a full EIA, and a design and access statement (over 400 pages).
    • It has taken over a year to reach this point, including many meetings with relevant stakeholders.
    • Feedback will enable Ediston to make responses, then move to the next stage. The amount and content of feedback will affect when the application goes to CEC’s planning committee responses. Hence timescales may change.
  • Orion actually owns the site, but does not tell Ediston what to do with it, or to do anything inappropriate. Orion is ‘very much on board’ with what Ediston has proposed.
  • Due to the large amount of documentation, CS believes the 9 October deadline for comments may well be extended.
  • Following receipt of comments, CEC must consider them and engage with Ediston.
  • It would be appropriate to have a public meeting with the architects and other relevant Ediston staff.
    • Can NTBCC collate queries for this?
  • Coronavirus and holidays are delaying some work with CEC. Hence later applications may be held back.
    • Hence this meeting should focus on the current main application.
  • Work on the ‘Plot 1’ PAN has started: there will be a PAN exhibition in early October.
    • Because ‘Plot 1’ is part of a wider proposal, Ediston will submit an EIA based on the EIA for the wider proposal, but focussing on the change hotel to residential.
    • There may then be more consultation, depending on changes resulting from the initial consultation.

5.b.iii Q&A

  • Chair: this is not meant to be an unpleasant, full-on interrogation of RM and CS. NTBCC would be happy to host a separate dedicated meeting for in-depth discussions. This session is about the planning-application process.
    • Hence questions on detail of the application will be collated so that RM/CS can answer them later.
  • Resident 1: have any visuals of the Eyre Place courtyard been submitted? Is there a technical report on proposals to demolish a wall?
    • RM/CS: there are such visuals: we will check where they are, and get back to you. The demolition is covered in a separate document that was approved some months ago. We will send you the link to it.
  • Resident 2: What is the source of funds for this £20 million investment in Edinburgh? What diligence has been done by CEC on this topic? I ask because some of the money might come from unwelcome sources.
    • RM/CS: Orion is a private company, with private investors. It has a €1·5 billion investment-fund, from which the money supporting this work has been committed. Hence the source [i.e. names of Orion’s investors] is irrelevant.
    • RM/CS: I do not know who the Orion investors are. I know that the fund is highly regulated, respected and well-capitalised, and has existed for around 20 years. It will have done its own internal diligence.
    • CS: funding sources are not a planning consideration.
    • Cllr Miller: CEC’s role is to assess the planning application. Diligence on fund-sources is up to the owners.
    • D Clarke: Orion is based in Luxembourg: there will be suitable money-laundering regulations in there.
  • A Welsh: I consider this from a holistic stance. Are there contingency plans and insurance against unwelcome events? (cf change from hotel to residential). I am concerned that Edinburgh might end up with an cleared but unused site.
    • RM/CS: there are always risks, e.g. around selling and renting residential properties. Hence we have undertaken much future-proofing to make the plans resilient. If something ‘cataclysmic’ happens, we will have to deal with it, because the investment has been committed.
  • D Henderson: in view of likely changes to working patterns, what about the envisaged large office-block? Can retention of the existing buildings reduce risk?
    • We have considered such topics. The existing buildings don’t suit the future-proofed, sustainable plans.
  • D Henderson: Given that the development will now be much more residential, will there be community facilities?
    • RM/CS: We’ve considered this: some space is available for ancillary uses, so we hope to have health/wellbeing/community hubs. We have approached the NHS about introducing a health-centre but it cannot commit to this for the foreseeable future.
  • Cllr Barrie: Edinburgh is a highly desirable investment location.
  • Resident 3: which application should people comment on? What plans are there for civic space in the development?
    • Cllr Mowat: people should make general comments all relevant applications, to ensure CEC will consider them. There is complete separation within CEC between financial and planning matters.
  • B Ryan: it has been suggested that NTBCC collates questions, then publish them (with answers) on NTBCC’s website.
    • Chair: RM/CS have suggested an in-depth meeting, so this would be a good way to proceed.
    • RM/CS: we are happy to respond to written questions with written answers.

6 Transport

See also report (item 13 below). A Jack reported:

6.a Safer Streets – ‘Spaces for People’ latest news/update

  • Cllr Miller: CEC is working mainly on proposals around schools, ensuring school drop-off and pick-up are safe. CEC now has a ‘formulaic’ process for working on SfP proposals, so it seems to be ‘rolling forward’ now.
  • Chair: there are concerns over lack of consultation in the 5-day periods allowed for this.
    • Cllr Miller: consultation periods were meant to be short to enable rapid delivery of SfP measures. The proposals for East Craigs are very different to those for NTBCC’s area. Feedback mechanisms seem to be working.
    • Cllr Barrie: the Inverleith cllrs met with the CEC roads engineer, who agreed that the original plans were unworkable, not least because of gas-works plans. Hence CEC took the plans back for revision. However, CEC is now implanting the original, unworkable plans. Hence the Inverleith cllrs have ‘given’ up on this issue.
    • Cllr Mowat: there has been a first review of some plans, but no decisions yet to reverse anything. CEC has been slow to respond to issues I’ve raised. The proposals for widening Broughton St pavements etc will not be implemented at this stage, but may be implemented later. Traffic is using Abercromby Place etc due to York Place closure.
  • S Hajducki: according to CEC data, 7 times as many people access this city on foot than on bikes, so 7/8 of CEC’s SfP funds should be spent on improvements for pedestrians. Because the plans are ad-hoc, it is hard to understand them as a whole. However, they may be making air-quality worse by enforcing longer journeys, and have little improvement for pedestrians. Much is being done for cycling (following CEC policy) but this is driven by Sustrans, a cycling lobby.
    • Are these temporary measures a way of introducing normal/permanent measures, without proper consultation?
    • Some of the pedestrian crossing work (item 6.b below) could be trialled now, rather than waiting until 2025.
  • P Williamson: Can there be consultation on the Broughton St proposals ideally early in the process?
    • Cllr Mowat: I hope for consultation, and will chase this. I have raised S Hajducki’s point. Proposals for permanent measures must have their own TROs because measures introduced by TTROs may only last up to 18 months. Hence TRO consultations are beginning to appear. We do not know when the next tranche will come forward.
    • Cllr Osler:
      • There have been issues with utility companies digging up many roads, and this has not interfaced well with SfP projects. There is confusion over which work is SfP and which is utilities-work. Also, satnavs don’t know which roads are closed, leading to more problems.
      • However, some good plans are coming under the SfP programme, e.g. a pedestrian crossing from Inverleith Park to the Botanic Gardens.
      • However, cllrs do not know when things will arrive and there are delays, e.g. items consulted on in July being delivered in October. CEC officers are working hard but this work could be better organised. There has been much criticism over who the SfP measures will benefit. Hence CEC needs to state publically what will be delivered, and re-examine measures that do not deliver their aims.

6.b Update: ‘Proposed Pedestrian Crossing Priorities’ as presented to P&S Committee 20 August

  • Chair: NTBCC has been asking for the Great King St/St Vincent St crossing for some time. Also, where are the design proposals for the London St Crossing?
    • Cllr Mowat: I have asked for details, and will chase them.
  • R Price:
    • the report to CEC Policy & Sustainbility mentioned London St junction with Drummond Place. (Many people agree this is a difficult corner.) Why is a raised table proposed here, given the PB2 value is high here?
    • How can NTBCC input to discussions on Great King St and North West Circus Place?
    • Quite a few proposals are for places with high PB2 values, e.g. Bellevue Place. Why are proposals for places with low PB2 values coming forward? That is, what determines the order?
    • Cllr Osler:
      • Some schemes can be afforded, and resources and time are available, so these schemes are prioritised. Ward cllrs chase the schemes they want each year.
      • These schemes cannot be funded by SfP because they are permanent. (SfP is only for temporary measures.)
    • Cllr Mowat: the raised table results from consultation with local residents. Other proposals will go through this consultation process. CCs may also be consulted. The raised table for London St may well have a central refuge.
    • M Birch: can ‘temporary’ measures be introduced now, with the option of making them permanent later?
  • A Welsh: cllrs should think about North West Circus Place. Depressions on both sides of the road have existed for a long time. They are next to the much-used community pharmacy and health centre, so a safe crossing is needed here. Also, people are dangerously parking on double-yellow lines here.
  • S Hajducki: due to the works on York Place, a temporary crossing was quickly installed at the Albany St/Dublin St Junction. Why can others not be implemented similarly quickly, even just to try them?
  • CllrMowat: I raised this at full council. I’ve received no information on timings etc. I will chase this.

6.c Final Tram Extension TRO proposals (McDonald Road – Picardy Place)

  • M Birch: this will be consulted on soon. it is on NTBCC’s website.
    • Actions: NTBCC members to comment on this, office-bearers to collate a response.

6.d Update to concerns raised regarding increased traffic in Bellevue Road/Annandale St.

  • Cllr M – has raised this at CEC - residents will be advised. Nothing to her about what will happen. Talking about road cushions. No detail on when it will happen – she will chase again

7 Festivals & Events: ‘Charter for Edinburgh’

  • Chair: Cllr Mowat published an article in the Scotsperson, and the five city-centre CCs have developed a view.
  • Cllr Mowat:
    • I recently met with the 5 CCs - my article was quite well received.
    • I will engage more about how Edinburgh puts on festivals and other events, so people know what to expect.
    • The next step is to find ways for residents to feed into the public spaces manifesto at an appropriately early stage.
    • Action: Cllr Mowat to circulate materials by email, due to her internet connection making her inaudible.
  • Chair: Cllr Mowat’s draft position statement was very much endorsed by the 5 CCs. We now have an opportunity as residents to influence city-centre events, and will work proactively with the councillor and others on this matter.

8 Environment

8.a Updates from Councillor(s) on managing reported increased incidence of graffiti

  • Chair: this is now a big issue in NTBCC’s area and probably in other CC areas too.
  • Cllr Miller: contact locality teams; they can supply cleaning equipment to community groups. There was a task-force.
  • R Price: A report will go to CEC’s Culture & Communities tomorrow; NTBCC should seek an update on relevant discussions. (Cllr Barrie supplied the URL.)
    • Action: Cllr Mowat will pass on any useful material from this discussion
  • The proposal is to create a dedicated team to remove graffiti and introduce protocols that control/manage it. CEC is only empowered to remove graffiti from its own buildings. The graffiti-team would be not-for-profit operation – but it could be an way of CEC raising anti-graffiti funds. Also transient-visitor levy funds could be used for this issue.
  • J Finn: Essential Edinburgh used to deal with graffiti in its area, but I am not sure whether it still does.
  • Action: P Williamson/NTBCC environment ctte to act on this. (It’s one of their priorities.)

8.a.i Related matters

  • S Duff: a Gayfield Place Lane resident has been suffering from people making grafitti and vomiting outside her house. What can she do? (Police have advised her to contact community groups.) What moral support can NTBCC give?
    • Also, the Gayfield Association should be resurrected.
    • J Kilner: in my experience, immediate painting over graffiti ‘tags’ has stopped people ‘tagging’ in about a month.
    • Chair: It is difficult to do this on stone walls – much of Edinburgh is stone. It’s hard to see how NTBCC can help with vomit – such nuisances should be a CEC issue.
      • Action: chair to pass on relevant contacts
    • Cllr Mowat: I am happy to provide moral and informational support, and to meet this resident.
    • S Duff: gates have significantly reduced urination-problems in Gayfield Square. So gates may help here.

8.b Communal Bin Review - consultation sessions

  • R Price: There was a report on this in February 2020, suggesting that all communal bins (e.g. landfill, recycling) in any area should be located together. But no local consultations on where bins should be have happened.
  • Cllr Barrie: people generally accept other recycling bins near their houses but hate glass-recycling bins because they make much noise.
    • B Ryan: would this hatred be reduced if collection was done at more amenable times of day – or does it arise from the noise of people putting glass into bins? (CEC can’t control when people do this?)
    • Cllr Osler: it has been very difficult to re-site such bins in Inverleith ward. Businesses don’t want them, and they have been subject to arson. People have been driving into the area to deposit glass very late at night.
    • P Williamson: there are problems, e.g. with late-night uplifting, but let’s react positively to this review. New bin-designs may well help.

9 Licensing

See also report (item 14 below)

J Finn: nothing to discuss at this point

10 Engagement/Communications

See report (item 15 below)

11 Local residents’ associations/local interest groups

Chair: no relevant issues have been raised for this meeting.

12 Any other business

  • D Henderson: consultation on short-term lets started today. Deadline for comments is 16 October.
    • Action: NTBCC office-bearers to circulate relevant links to members.
  • Chair: NTBCC should hold a business meeting soon after the AGM, at which NTBCC’s office-bearers will be (re-)elected.
    • The business meeting would include (re-)election of NTBCC’s convenors.
    • Action: office-bearers to email members about arrangements

13 Appendix 3: Transport report

13.a York Place

Charles Martin of Currie Brown responded to an enquiry from Cllr Mowat saying general w/bound traffic is directed along Albany St/Abercomby Pl/Queen St Gardens E [with traffic lights at Dublin Street]; and buses via Leith St. This system is expected to remain in operation until 12 October.

13.b Tram diversions

Cllr Mowat raised a motion at the meeting of 25 Aug calling for a report on the prevalence of heavy vehicles in unsuitable streets incl Bellvue Rd, Albany St, East London St, Abercromby Pl, Drummond Pl and Queen St Gdns East to be reported to the Policy and Sustainability committee. Separately, a motion from Cllr Webber called for a moratorium on floating bus stops until there had been further consultation, and a report on pavement obstructions. Any follow-up on Bellevue Road / Annandale St to be discussed at meeting of 14 Sept.

13.c Cycle hoops

a resident has questioned the location of two cycle pods in East London St. It’s suggested that these, and 2 large communal waste bins and a bottle bank, should be more sensitively sited.

13.d Safer streets/Spaces for People

overall process (and feedback to Civic Forum) to be discussed at meeting of 14 Sept.

13.e Proposed Pedestrian Crossing Priorities (P&S Committee 20 August)

a pedestrian crossing at the west end of Gt King St is proposed on the Council’s priority list for 2020-22. (The Secretary has circulated the P&S report to members). To be noted and any follow-up discussed at meeting of 14 Sept.

Allan Jack, 14 September 2020

14 Appendix 4: Licensing report

The Licensing Board has not met recently, and their next meeting is 1 October, so we do not have anything to consider at this meeting.

In terms of 24 Royal Terrace, the bar and rear garden have been open on some evenings for food and drink and we are not aware of any significant issues.

Jonathan Finn, 11 September 2020

15 Appendix 5: Engagement/Communications report

The Engagement/Communications Committee has not met since July. It is hoped to meet again in the autumn.

On 19 August, the Five City Centre Community Councils (5CCCC) and the Cockburn Association published a Joint Statement on the City of Edinburgh Council’s Policy and Sustainability Committee (Thursday 20th August 2020), Agenda item 6.13: Update on Edinburgh’s Christmas and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2020/2021’ following the release of the CEC update on 15 August. (This is now on the NTBCC website.)

There was no 5CCCC as scheduled on 25 August. The Old Town Community Council (OTCC) host a 5CCCC presentation by Cllr Jo Mowat on tourism on 10 September.

Simon Holledge, 4 September 2020