NTBCC minutes – Monday 3rd February 2014

Minutes of the New Town and Broughton Community Council meeting held on Monday 3rd February 2014 in Cathedral House, 63 York Place, Edinburgh

Present:  Ian Mowat, Chair;  Susanna Beaumont;  Judy Conn;  Stuart Cowie;  Jonathan Finn;  Gaby Holden;  James Igoe;   Allan Jack;  Ian McGill;  Carol Nimmo;  Richard Price;  Christine Ross;  Alan Welsh.

Ex officio members present:  Councillors Deidre Brock and Alasdair Rankin

Speakers:  Stewart Holmes, Service Manager, Waste Disposal and Iain MacPhail, Transport Department, both City of Edinburgh Council

Members of the public present:  Alan McIntosh and John Ross Maclean both of the Spurtle;  Nicky Munro of Heriot Row East Residents Association ;  Roddy Stewart-Meiklejohn

Apologies for absence:  Rebecca Bridgland;  Lynn Henni;  Pippa Lockhart (resigned);  Councillor Lesley Hinds;  Mark Lazarowicz MP. 

1.    Minutes of the last meeting on 2nd December 2013:  The minutes’ acceptance was proposed by Alan Welsh who was seconded by Carol Nimmo.

2.    Police reportNo member of the police force in attendance. 

3.    Environment:

a)  Stewart Holmes, Service Manager based at Powderhall Waste Transfer Station answered questions about the systems in operation at the unit, which exists only to ferry the waste, by train and road, out of the city for disposal and treatment elsewhere in the region, for recycling, anaerobic composting and landfill as appropriate.  Edinburgh sends no waste overseas.  Local complaints about smell stemmed from the food waste which residents had failed to separate from their general rubbish.  Food waste separated at source was not retained on the site for more than 24 hours and caused no problems with smell or vermin.  Powderhall was on target to close in 2017 when a recycling plant at Millerhill would become fully operational.  It was noted that rubbish often blew out of Powderhall and littered the adjacent cycle track.  Stewart agreed to having this regularly cleaned up.

b)  TROs had recently been advertised for the siting of OMB (communal) waste containers in those New Town streets where gull proof bags had not been issued.  It was agreed that it would not be appropriate for the NTBCC to make representations about these specific proposals, which would be better left to the residents who were directly affected.

c)  Broughton Street Lane:  Audrey Cavaye, Judy Conn and Christine Ross had attended a meeting on 20th January of residents of Forth Street with Councillors Joanna Mowat and Karen Doran to consider the longstanding  inconsiderate behaviour of some of the restaurant owners in Picardy Place, who were disposing of their rubbish in the lane noisily and carelessly late at night.  Further night-time disturbance, disruption and occasional damage to buildings were caused by the six or seven contractors who removed the rubbish.  As a result of information garnered during the meeting the Council had agreed to step up such enforcement action as was legally open to them.  A 9 month pilot scheme to be introduced on 3rd March would establish a system of daily two hour slots within which businesses in Leith Walk could put out their waste for collection.  While use of this window might help to alleviate the situation in the lane, unfortunately it was possible that only the CEC might be in a position to take advantage of it and it seemed that the private contractors were saying it would be logistically impossible for them to observe.  A similar two hour window introduced in December in Rose Street did not appear to have been very successful.

d)  Parks Events Manifesto – a consultation was ongoing (responses by 31st March) into how effective the Parks Events Manifesto of 2010 had been in ensuring appropriate commercial and private use for events of the major city parks.  The Manifesto aimed to establish a maximum level of availability for organised public leisure activities while safeguarding  the parks from environmental damage and minimising loss of amenity to locals.  The NTBCC had contributed a detailed response when the Manifesto was being drafted, with particular reference to Calton Hill.   Carol Nimmo was asked to seek the views of the Regent Royal and Carlton Terraces Association on whether they thought recent events on the Hill had been excessive in number, nature or duration, or had caused harm to the Hill’s fragile ecology or unacceptable disruption to nearby residents.

e)   Broughton Road bowling/putting greens:   Councillor Deidre Brock mentioned a proposed change of use for the underused putting green and one of the bowling greens on Broughton Road – a change which consultation had suggested would be acceptable to users.  A possible use for the land might be allotments and she noted a comment that the soil might be contaminated given the immediate proximity of Powderhall, which had housed a waste incineration plant at one point.  The answer to this might lie in creating raised beds.

4.    TransportIain MacPhail of the CEC talked the meeting through plans for the introduction of a 12 month experimental one way system in George Street.  In the light of generally positive feedback after the partial closure of George Street during the most recent Edinburgh Festival the CEC had decided to experiment with maximising space for  cyclists and pedestrians and creating more opportunities for leisure activities and events.  The trial would have the following elements

  • George Street would be one way west- east from Frederick St to St Andrew Square with the southern carriageway becoming an extended walkway- with room for some café tables, and a two way cycleway
  • George Street would be one way east –west from Frederick St to Charlotte  Square with the northern carriageway becoming an extended walkway- with room for some café tables  and a two way cycleway
  • The current central reservation parking would mostly be retained.

The NTBCC’s stance had always been that no changes should take place in the circulation of traffic in the city centre until the trams had been up and running for long enough to make their impact clear.  Iain MacPhail countered this by claiming that the proposed changes to George Street would not take place until the trams had been running for a month or two.  Furthermore he insisted that all changes to the street would be easily reversible, using no fixtures and only paint on road surfaces.  All other features which might be introduced, such as decking and even a marquee, would be temporary structures.  He claimed that the CEC would not hesitate to undo the changes if they proved disruptive or caused significant displacement of traffic, although the CEC did not anticipate this happening.   The necessary temporary TROs would be advertised within the next couple of weeks and comments/objections would be appropriate at that point. NTBCC members present and Nicky Munro of Heriot Row East Residents Association called for effective monitoring of traffic in the 2nd New Town both just before the scheme starts and whilst it is in place. Ian Mowat said he was aware that Drummond Civic Association were also concerned and had suggestions for locations to monitor. Ian MacPhail said he would consider suggestion form the CC and residents associations over the most effective places to monitor traffic flows during the trial.

Ian Mowat also reported that he and Alan Welsh had represented the CC at the Charlotte Square TRO/RSO hearing. A report would be produced in the next few months and the CEC would publicise it prior to taking any decision on the TRO/RSO . In the meantime the CEC had accepted that signage on Queensferry Rd was defective and new signs were to be put in place this March indicating that Queensberry Rd to Hope St was open to all traffic west/east which it was hope would draw some traffic from the overused Great Stuart St route to Charlotte Square.

5.    Planning:  Richard Price, Planning Convenor, summarised the actions of the Planning Sub-Committee since the December meeting of the full CC.  Although he had attended the meeting of the CEC Transport and Development Committee at which the Caltongate application was considered, it had not been appropriate for him to take part in the debate, despite lack of any community council input after the mass resignation of the Old Town Community Council.

The sub-committee had lodged objections to two applications – 1.  in support of local residents to an application for a third extension of consent by developers of land to the rear of Forth Street (objection upheld)  and 2.  to the construction of two mews houses in NW Cumberland Street Lane on grounds of inappropriate use of garden ground and failure to specify materials suitable for use in the Edinburgh World Heritage Site (decision pending).

Of the other applications still open to comment only the conversion to a capsule hotel of an empty office block at  64-74 Rose Street required discussion.  There was a proposal that the response should take the form of objection on the grounds that the NTBCC deplored the seemingly endless succession of applications to build hotels or to convert buildings in the city centre to hotel use with the resultant loss of residential and central office space and damage to a truly vibrant and healthy local economy.  There were doubts however as to whether an objection on this basis would be considered material by the planners.  As for many years all comments made by the NTBCC to planning applications had restricted themselves to strictly material matters the inclusion of broader based comments would be a change of tack and it was agreed that this could usefully form a subject for discussion at another business meeting, like that held on 13th January, when the NTBCC had discussed issues such as procedure, choice of bank, development of the website and management of public meetings (see 10 below).

The Planning Concordat – all of the Edinburgh community councils had been invited to sign up to the final version of this tri-partite agreement between the City’s planning authority, developers and community councils.  The Concordat laid out the responsibilities of all three parties in instances where a development was of a scale to warrant pre-application consultation (PAC).  It emphasised the onus on community councils to seek pro-actively the views of the communities they represented, within the limited means at their disposal, and offered some financial help if required to ensure that this took place.   The NTBCC had been actively involved in the drafting of the Concordat and agreed to sign up to it.

Stuart Cowie had devised an excellent template for noting the planning applications and issues considered by the sub-committee and the ensuing decisions/recommendations. This would constitute a very useful feature of the website.

St Stephen’s Church had been placed on the market by the Church of Scotland.  CC members were urged to attend a meeting called for 6th February by a group of local residents anxious about the future of this hugely important landmark building.

6.  Licensing:  Jonathan Finn, Licensing Convenor, reported few recent applications.  The only one to require a response had been an application by Ashoka in Hanover Street to extend licensing to the external area.  In line with NTBCC practice it had been recommended that this should extend no later than 10pm.  An attempt to find out information about table and chairs applications for outdoor licences had identified  a CEC website link which would be posted on the NTBCC website.

7.    Treasurer’s report:  It was agreed   at the CC Business meeting on 13th January the  Treasurer’s recommendation   that the CC bank account be  transferred from Lloyds TSB  to Triodos Bank in the expectation of receiving a better service, subject to ratification of the full CC at this meeting . Ian Mowat propped that this decision be ratified and it was unanimously ratified.

8.    Website:  James Igoe had set up a blog-style website and it was agreed that for a start convenors of the sub-committees should provide a brief resume of the remit of their sub-committee and a summary of the issues recently addressed.  For the moment this material could be emailed to James but he was happy to take advantage of a business meeting on April 7th (see 10 below) to provide guidance for CC members in hands on use of the website.


9.   Activities of local street and amenity associations: The Drummond Civic Association’s AGM on 30th January was noted, when the pending auction of the redundant police box on Drummond Place had been discussed.

10.  AOB:  1) As the CC is required to hold an annual minimum of only eight public meetings a year it was agreed that the meeting scheduled for 7th April should be a business meeting, similar to the very useful meeting on 13th January.

2)  Alan Welsh raised the question of what should be done with community council records, minutes etc from previous years.  Ian Mowat said that he would ask Eileen Hewitt whether the CEC could offer a storage facility.

11.  Date of next meeting which is also our AGM- Monday 12 May at 7.15 pm at the Drummond Room, Broughton St Marys, Bellevue Crescent, Edinburgh