Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s ordinary meeting, held via Zoom, on Monday 8 February 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’.
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
|Susanna Beaumont||NTBCC||Richard Price||NTBCC|
|Mike Birch||NTBCC, RRCTMA||Sheila Warnock||NTBCC|
|David Clarke||NTBCC||Alan Welsh||NTBCC|
|Susan Duff||NTBCC||Peter Williamson||NTBCC, Picardy Residents Association|
|Laura Graham||NTBCC||Bruce Ryan||Minutes secretary|
|Stephen Hajducki||NTBCC||Alan McIntosh||Broughton Spurtle|
|Deirdre Henderson||NTBCC||Andi Christie||Drummond Community High School|
|Simon Holledge||NTBCC||Cllr Max Mitchell||Inverleith ward|
|Carol Nimmo||NTBCC||Cllr Jo Mowat||City Centre ward|
|Jenni Inglis||NTBCC, FRRCA||Cllr Hal Osler||Inverleith ward|
|Ken Lochrie||NTBCC, DCA||~22 residents/visitors|
1.b Apologies for absence
|Stuart McAllister||NTBCC||Susan Macinnes||NTBCC||PC Lindsay Claxton||Police Scotland|
1.c Membership update
1.d Précis of this meeting for NTBCC website
L Graham agreed to do this for this meeting, P Williamson agreed to do this for the next meeting
2 Minutes of 11 January 21 meeting (via Zoom) and matters arising
Accepted subject to correcting small typos in item 5a (proposed L Graham, seconded D Henderson, ND)
2.a Matters arising
2.a.i Update on short-term lets
- D Henderson: The Scottish Government’s local government and communities committee has decided to go ahead with their proposals. The housing minister is open to making changes but wants the proposals to be before the Scottish Parliament before the summer. PLACE Edinburgh is concerned that the proposals are not yet right. Also, the relevant Scottish Government working group consists of big players/vested interests – there is no resident or community council input. Local Authorities can make representations.
- Cllr Mowat: I have not yet received an update on the working group, but there has been a sudden inclusion of bed&-breakfasts, which have never been discussed. Edinburgh’s view is that there should be licensing of places that are not currently in the system, not B&Bs. Also, as it stands, ministers would need to approve areas to be controlled (to be nominated by local authorities). I will report back, and feed in local concerns
2.a.ii London St
A resident had contacted NTBCC prior to the meeting and asked if a proposed short-term let application could be discussed – covered under Planning below.
3 Police Report
See full report in Appendix 1.
- Chair: I had asked for a more personalized approach to these reports on how policing is going.
4 Andi Telford Christie from Drummond Community High School – feedback on graffiti
- A Christie is head of school. She noted pupils’ responses to questions from NTBCC:
- What do people think about graffiti in NTBCC area? It’s unappealing, creating a negative view of the area. It may cause economic suffering by people not shopping at local businesses; however, it’s not as big a problem as in other parts of Edinburgh.
- How can we stop unwanted graffiti? Would legal wall-spaces help? Yes to latter, but people are more concerned about the vandalistic aspect of graffiti. So larger numbers of security cameras were suggested.
- A Welsh: there was an artistic, much liked community graffiti panel. Can this be reinstated?
5.a Bellevue Crescent – traffic vibration issue
- M Birch: Some residents on Bellevue Crescent are suffering increasing vibration in their homes, possibly from traffic, or possibly associated with gas regulators installed recently close by. They will soon contact relevant councillors.
5.b Tram Update / CCTT / Diversions
- M Birch: a ‘prior approval’ planning application was submitted just before the winter break change the design of the Picardy Place tram-stop. The previous design had 2 platforms for city-bound trams, but the current design has a single, central platform. NTBCC wants to know what brought this change. NTBCC is also discussing, with the trams team, plans the movement of the stop from York Place to Picardy Place, because this will cause significant road-closures. (Broughton St expected to be closed for 6 months.)
- M Birch: TROs had been expected for the full route, but these are now due in March because a separate TRO was considered by CEC recently. This would ban left-turns from Leith Walk to London Rd. It’s driven by (1) changes to the design of the pedestrian- and cycle-crossing at this junction; (2) proposed changes would have led to more congestion here. Instead traffic would be routed around the gyratory system (Picardy Place), then return to Leith Walk to turn right at this junction. NTBCC is concerned that traffic would rat-run through residential areas, and hence that protecting pedestrians and cyclists at this junction exposes other vulnerable people. NTBCC will comment at the relevant consultation.
- Chair: it is very disappointing that the trams team did not inform CCTT about this, but it has now led to discussions.
- M Birch: there seemed to be no need to rush this, because this area will be among the last to be worked on.
- D Henderson: I am concerned that all of Hillside will become a rat-run, and that Picardy Place will become clogged with traffic, especially when St James Quarter parking is open.
- M Birch: there may be cumulative ill-effects; data used in modelling was from 2018, when St James was closed.
5.c Broughton Street Update
- M Birch: following pressure from NTBCC and councillors for greater engagement, I was invited to a meeting with representatives of Spaces for People and Better Broughton to discuss ideas covering the whole length of Broughton St. There was very useful information-exchange, and there will be a follow-up meeting in ~2 weeks. NTBCC is working on a submission (now online) based on much local input. A local architect has kindly provided drawings to support this.
- A resident who had previously contacted NTBCC offered to help with contacts on this topic.
- M Birch: having reflected on various travel hierarchies, NTBCC’s priority is pedestrians. Short-term measures could improve their safety and the street’s accessibility, but also changes around public transport and cycling are needed. Also the street is a thoroughfare, especially while Leith Walk is closed. Stationary traffic increases pollution and reduces amenity for all.
- P Williamson: this work to involve local people is a first for Spaces for People projects, and is very valuable.
5.d ‘Spaces for People’ update incl. T&E Committee 28thJanuary
- M Birch: NTBCC had made representations about the pedestrian crossing on Leopold Place. Spaces for People responded that they could do nothing due to the trams project plans. However the trams project stated that it had no such plans, and this would be among the last areas it would work on, and knew nothing about this crossing.
- NTBCC and Leith Central CC have now written again, and await a response.
- Action: M Birch to ask councillors to expedite a response
6.a (Ex) RBS site applications update incl. details of 17thFebruary Hearing
- R Price: there are three planning applications lodged in 2020: (redevelopment of the whole site, demolition all buildings on the site, connect the path from Dundas St to the south-west corner of the park). There was then a revised application for redevelopment. (There is also an amended application to change class-uses on the site but this will come later – currently a pre-application only.)
- The three applications are to be determined on 17 Feb. NTBCC has been offered a short time to speak at the hearing, as have relevant local interest groups. The planning officer’s report will become available 7 days before the hearing. It would help if the local groups ensure all aspects of this, and their concerns, are raised at the hearing.
- A summary of NTBCC’s representations is on its website, as are links to the full document.
- J Inglis: Fettes Row/Royal Crescent and Drummond Civic Association are putting online an analysis of the proposals. Some people may not be aware of the implications of the plans. It is disappointing that Drummond Civic was not invited to speak at the hearing, as is lack of responses from local councillors. There would be cumulative loss of amenity.
- K Lochrie: all local amenity groups have commented on the over-development this would cause. Edinburgh World Heritage has stated that it is only concerned about the actual EWH area. Historic Environment Scotland had had a long list of requirements for the development, but now HES is leaving this matter to Edinburgh Council, so councillors need to act.
- A McIntosh: previous this site was of acute interest to EWHT, so policy must have changed.
- A Welsh: it has recently come to light that there was a previous Masterplan that mandated buildings to be set back from the pavement edge. This development, and the one across Dundas St, would block the view up this street. Developers have not done appropriate research, so this issue should be investigated.
- R Price: in the 1970s and 1980s, planners noted that there is a Canonmills/Silvermills masterplan that mandated set-back. NTBCC has raised this comprehensively. It is frustrating that HES and EWH take a different view – many appreciate that it forms a gateway to the New Town.
- Cllr Mowat: all ward councillors have been invited to address the hearing. Councillors can chose to either sit on the committee or be decision-makers. I will do the former, so I have been listening closely this evening.
- Cllr Mowat: the DMSC is the highest level of council scrutiny, at which the community can speak. Such voices may well have more weight due to their local knowledge. I could ask the meeting chair to let Drummond Civic speak.
Action: K Lochrie to ascertain if Drummond Civic wishes to speak at the meeting.
- Cllr Osler: councillors do read materials submitted by local groups, so ward councillors do not need to speak for you. I concur that local knowledge has more weight, so do come and speak before the hearing.
- Cllr MItchell: it is always worthwhile sending to all DMSC members a short note of what CEC reports may omit.
- J Inglis: can NTBCC get more speaking-time? There is confusion about the developer’s design and access statement about the park (e.g. over picnic tables). It appears that Greenspace Scotland was commissioned to run a limited workshop, leading to the current ‘section 75’ proposals, but this was not good enough. There is concern that cycling in the park is a problem, so why not put a cycle-route through the development?
- R Price: I look forward to a discussion with other groups presenting to agree an overall approach to the hearing.
6.b 108 – 114 & 116 Dundas Street: Demolition / Redevelopment proposal
- R Price: this proposal includes bringing the building line forwards, in line with 120 Dundas St. This seems inappropriate, so NTBCC has objected to this, and loss of trees and of the gateway to the New Town. The proposed building is a large, incongruous ‘behemoth’. The application has some good features but overall developers wish to fit too much on small sites. Because demolition applications need acceptable rebuilding proposal, NTBCC does not support this demolition at this time – however, the existing building doesn’t have much architectural merit. It is not yet known whether there will be a formal DMSC hearing on this matter but it will be determined by the DMSC.
- D Clarke: does anyone else support NTBCC’s objection?
- R Price: HES does not specifically object to the planned building line because it’s consistent with their view of heritage. EWHT are ‘middle of the road’, i.e. not supporting NTBCC’s position on building line but do have other concerns.
- J Inglis: the planned buildings would be too tall and jarring. If they are closer to the street, jarring would be worse.
- A Welsh: this new development is a slap in the face to the EWH site.
- S Duff: should NTBCC ask these bodies why they are not objecting. I am happy to draft such communications.
- R Price: another issue with the building line would be its effect on 120 Dundas St. This was built in ~2005 with a staggered south-east corner, with windows in all apartments facing east and a roof terrace set back ~3 metres. The new development would block such views – a bad thing. (Views are not protected by planning requirements.)
- R Price: comments on this application closed on 29 January. The planning officer accepted NTBCC’s late submission.
6.c ‘George Street & First New Town project’ – latest news
No discussion [Post meeting : latest update posted on NTBCC’s website]
6.d Other planning matters
- R Price: the planning application for the bowling green area is now lodged. There is broad support for the proposed function, although I am personally ambivalent about the idea of intergenerational housing. There is a potential issue over the proposed salmon-pink building. Comments on this application are due in early March. NTBCC members & others should let me know their views.
- L Graham: I was shocked by the visuals
- R Price: this might set a precedent for nearby larger sites.
- A McIntosh: I like the choice of functions and mix of housing but the chosen single ‘slab’ of colour is off-putting.
- D Clarke: suggested that NTBCC should not make objections on aesthetic grounds, but focus on height and mass issues.
6.d.ii Hotel proposals for 12-14 Picardy Place
- R Price: NTBCC is broadly in support of this application, which would benefit the area. Agreed that NTBCC should submit its support to the proposal.
- K Lochrie: what will happen to Broughton St Lane, given its dangerous surface?
- R Price: we can suggest that this is covered by section 75 – NTBCC can suggest this. It would benefit the developers.
- A Welsh: would this involve suggesting the developers improve the setts in the lane? There should be restrictions on use of the lane for deliveries.
- C Nimmo: there will be a loading bay on Picardy Place, but in general deliveries in Edinburgh should be controlled.
- R Price: issues arose from different commercial waste companies, covering different establishments in the lane
- P Williamson: it’s worth concentrating on the lane, but the developers are interested too. CEC said in September 2019 that commercial waste problems had been solved.
- D Clarke: I like the rear atrium, and I suspect this will obviate deliveries via the lane.
- S Duff: there is a new terrace of town-houses on the lane. I suspect their owners would like the lane renovated too.
- M Birch: construction traffic from this development could affect the Picardy Place area, including during tram construction. The developer needs to consider how to manage development and tram construction.
6.d.iii Marshall’s Court
- R Price: this was about an application to build on a vacant parking area. NTBCC objected to the original application. NTBCC did not object to an amended application, but local residents did. There second application moved in the right direction but not far enough. I understand that the application is now ‘awaiting decision’.
- M Birch: the consultation on affordable housing recommends no affordable housing on this site, but a £325,000 section 75 contribution to affordable housing elsewhere. Pushing this elsewhere is contrary to appropriate ethos.
- R Price: the argument is that because affordable housing cannot be grouped together, so it’s stated that a willing housing association can’t be found. However, in other developments, housing is successfully pepper-potted and tenure-blind.
- R Price: NTBCC could make a submission to the appropriate DMSC meeting
- A resident: core to the issues is the topology of the site, surrounded by Greenside valley. There is limited road-access on a steep incline, so access could be difficult for mobility-impaired people. It’s council-owned land, so CEC is trying to maximise its value.
6.d.iv 39 London St
- R Price: the proposal to turn a street-level flat and basements into short-term lets. The closing date for comments was 29 January. NTBCC may have not objected because there were not strong feelings about it at the last meeting.
- A resident: the proposal would turn 3 floors of this building into studio flats, housing 16 people. If this plan goes ahead, the affected buildings will never again be normal residential property. Letting this property would be welcome – there is a beautiful large garden nearby, which would attract stag-party-goers not staying here, thus disturbing residents. The owners have expressed surprise about the nearby sauna, despite having owned the building for many years. The owners state that they are forced not to sell the property due to the sauna, but there is a recent sale above the sauna that disproves this. In my 7 years living in this area, the sauna has caused no problems. It closes at 10pm, does not attract disturbances and does not attract police action. There have been 20 objections to this application.
- Another resident: The AHSS cases panel will discuss this in due course. Is there a message for this panel?
- 1stresident: the plans show changes to the windows and the door, but otherwise make no architectural changes. The fear is that loud gangs of short-term tenants will ruin the neighbourhood.
- A Welsh: does this property back onto a children’s playground (Barony Community Gardens) on Barony St?
- 1stresident: yes but these gardens are very deep
- D Clarke: I object to hotels being built on the sly, and short-term lets.
- D Henderson: the sauna has a different effect – there are many saunas in residential areas that have no issues – but families might well choose not to rent properties above a sauna, so party-going renters are more likely here. Also, there is overprovision of STL and other holiday accommodation in the area.
See also report in Appendix 2.
- P Williamson. The new committee has decided its workstream, including the million tree initiative, the thriving green spaces project, and the trees in King George V park.
- S Holledge, on natural environment: on February 5, we met Ruthe Davies, CEC Trees and Woodlands Officer, to discuss tree and greenspaces protection in our area (on Zoom). The council are now preceding with two long term projects: Edinburgh Million Tree City (for 2030) and Thriving Green (for 2050). We are contacting CEC officials to see if we can arrange a Zoom presentation so we can learn more about these two plans.
- P Williamson: for built environment, we will concentrate on Princes St and the Waverley Valley.
- P Williamson: placemakingnaturally overlaps with both of these. We will encourage CEC to look at geographic areas more holistically.
- P Williamson: We’ll also pick up on waste management/refuse collection, and will provide updates on workstreams
8 Public Spaces Management Plan
- Chair: thanks to S Holledge and S Hadjucki for writing a great paper. Unfortunately, only 6 Edinburgh CCs submitted into this consultation.
10 Engagement and communications
- S Holledge: we’ve now distributed ~40 notices of NTBCC meeting dates in our area.
- Action: B Ryan to post dates on the website
11 Local residents’ association/local interest groups
- L Graham: should NTBCC develop a Nextdoor presence, posting once a month?
- Action: L Graham to try doing this
12 Any other business
13 Appendix 1: Police report
This is your report for the period of 11thJanuary 2021 to 5thFebruary 2021 for your area.
With the lockdown enforced we found ourselves having a quiet month indeed with only 2 Vandalisms to report in the New Town. One a smashed window on Rose Street and the other, writing on a post on Queen Street. There were no Housebreakings of a domestic or business nature and no assaults reported
We find ourselves in unprecedented times and policing in community team has changed….
From a Community Policing point of view our usual calls would include low level anti-social behaviour, youth calls, rough sleepers and neighbour disputes.
For the city centre the youth calls have all but disappeared, with the fast food outlets closed and footfall dramatically reduced the lure of the city centre for gathering in large groups to meet their friends has gone.
The majority of homeless persons have been temporarily accommodated, therefore, our welfare checks for rough sleepers each morning prove negative. In such cold weather this is reassuring that they have somewhere to stay.
We do receive reports of Breach of Covid regulations, however, these are few and far between at the moment with the vast majority of persons adhering to the rules with only the minority being issued with tickets. I would like to thank all of you for your ongoing support in complying with the restrictions and that alongside the new vaccination programme having commenced at the EICC we will hopefully see an end to this pandemic soon.
On the whole, reports to the police have reduced during lockdown, however, as restrictions ease, business as usual will no doubt resume.
Please let us know of any concerns you might have, or issues that have come to your attention, and we will endeavour to address these as best we can.
PC Lynsay Claxton, West End Community Policing Team.
14 Appendix 2: Environment Committee meeting 1 February 2021
Attendance: Laura Graham, Stephen Hajducki, Simon Holledge, Jack Hugh, Jenni Inglis, Carol Nimmo, Richard Price and Peter Williamson. Apologies: Sheila Warnock
- Changes to the make-up of the Environment Committee was agreed at the November meeting of the Community Council. The meeting on 1 February was first of the reconstituted Committee. The work of the Committee is divided into three streams: The Natural Environment (Led by Simon Holledge); The Built Environment (Led by Stephen Hajducki); and Place Making (Led by Peter Williamson).
The principal businessof the meeting was to review the existing work being undertaken and to set out future priorities for each work stream. In the event, the Committee generally found it comparatively easy to build on work already being undertaken in determining future work ensuring continuity.
- The work of the Natural Environment stream will continue NTBCC’s work on the Council’s Public Spaces Management Plan (PSMP). The collaborative engagement on the PSMP closed on 20 January 2021. NTBCC made a submission that is now posted on the NTBCC website. The collaborative engagement just concluded is supposed to help develop and refine the Public Space Management Plan, “combining all” of the ‘engagement conversations’. The PSPM will be presented to the Council’s Culture & Communities Committee as a draft in March. If the Committee approves the draft, it will go for public consultation with the final PSMP presented to Committee for approval. There remains a concern within the Committee that the PSMP is not about the totality of managing public spaces within the City, but only about their use for events, filming and festivals.
The second issue the stream will be working on is the proposal of the Council’s Culture & Communities Committee to draw up an Action Plan to achieve a target of one million trees in urban Edinburgh by 2030 – ‘Edinburgh Million Tree City’. A report went to the Council’s Culture & Communities Committee in January on how to make progress on achieving the target. (https://democracy.edinburgh.gov.uk/documents/s13083/Item%209.4%20-%20Million%20Tree%20Report%20-%20FINAL.pdf).
A third item of work for this stream will be the Thriving Green Spaces Project that is being led by the Council and funded by the Heritage Fund and the Natural Trust. (https://democracy.edinburgh.gov.uk/documents/s30672/Item%209.1%20-%20Thriving%20Greenspaces-FINAL.pdf) The Project aims to create a new vision for the city’s green spaces. The vision will be incorporated into a 30-year strategy which aligns with Edinburgh’s 2050 City Vision.Discussions with the Council officials on this and the trees project were planned for 3 February.
A final item of business was the matter of tree felling in King George V Park. This issue had been raised by the Friends of King George V and Scotland Yard Parks. The Council proposes to fell 61 trees in a single operation (admittedly the trees and shrubs in the Park are in a poor condition because of long-term neglect). However, it is only intended to replant 39 trees. This amongst other things will result in the disappearance of screening of some buildings round the Park. It was agreed that NTBCC would raise the matter with the relevant Council officials and then liaise with the Friends Group.
- The discussion of the Built Environment stream emphasised the importance of NTBCC working to encourage the Council to adopt a more joined-up approach to planning for local areas. Intervention by means of a range of single policies often failed to take account of the impact on the built environment and opportunities to create a ‘thriving environment’. A case in point was Broughton Street where the Council was intervening purely on transport matters when there are a wider set of concerns beyond engineering and infrastructure ones of concern for local residents and businesses. Discussion then moved on to the Council’s Strategy for Princes Street and the Waverley Valley. (https://democracy.edinburgh.gov.uk/documents/s27966/Item%207.1%20-%20Princes%20Street%20and%20Waverley%20Valley%20Strategy%20Project%20Scope.pdf). The strategy will address the future development and management of the valley landscape, the role and use of buildings on Princes Street and its environs, and the quality and offer of its public realm. It was recognised that this is a very important piece of work in which the Committee should be fully involved.
There was also a brief discussion of the position of George Street under the George Street and First New Town Project. While there were important reservations about the proposals developed, it was questioned whether the Project was too far advanced to make a material difference. It was noted that we needed to engage with the residents of the First New Town, as we had been asked to involve them in the latest designs.
- The third work stream on Placemaking considered a paper prepared by Peter Williamson for discussion on the topic. It was agreed that an integrated and neighbourhood focused approach to planning matters was already evolving in the work of NTBCC, and had been evident in what had emerged under the previous item on taking forward future work on the Built Environment. It was acknowledged that there were potentially a number of neighbourhoods within the New Town & Broughton area that would benefit from a placemaking exercise. However, it was considered important to get a better understanding of how people locally understood what constituted their neighbourhood/local community as this was important to encouraging participation. Further thought will be given to a mapping exercise to help to inform this. It was agreed that the first priority for placemaking might be the Princes Street and the Waverley Valley Project. Stephen Hajducki and Peter Williamson will liaise further on this.
- The only other item of business was that of waste management refuse collection. It was agreed that this remained an important issue for local people and that the Environment Committee should continue to give it due attention. It was noted that there had not been a Council-organised Residents’ Forum meeting for a year, but the Councils Waste and Cleaning Manager had indicated that one would be organised for the beginning of the year. Peter Williamson will liaise with Jack Hugh on giving priority to waste management and refuse collection.
- It was decided that the best way of making progress with the diverse items within the Committee’s remit was to have a ‘rolling programme’ of meetings on particular topics as and when necessary. Members of the Committee would participate in these as appropriate. The Environment Committee formally would meet three to four times a year.
Peter Williamson, Environment Committee Chair