NTBCC minutes – Monday 8 January 2018

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s ordinary meeting, held in the Drummond Room, Broughton St Mary’s Church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 08 January 2018 at 7 pm

Actions and decisions are RED ITALIC UNDERLINED SMALLCAPS. Nem con means that no-one spoke or voted against the item.

1           Attendance and apologies for absence

Chris Collins NTBCC Lewis Press NTBCC environment convenor
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Richard Price NTBCC planning convenor
Jack Hugh NTBCC Fran Wasoff NTBCC
Allan Jack NTBCC transport convenor Alan Welsh NTBCC
Susan MacInnes NTBCC Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary
Stuart McAllister NTBCC Cllr Hal Osler Inverleith ward
Ian Mowat NTBCC chair >50 residents and visitors

1.1         Apologies for absence

Judy Conn NTBCC secretary Andrew Haddow NTBCC Deidre Brock MP Edinburgh North & Leith

2           Royal Bank of Scotland

2.1         Fettes Row/Royal Crescent Association position

Dorothy Hogg (DH) outlined FRRCA’s draft comments and objections

  • Concerning the application for objection (16/05455/CON)
    • No demolition should occur until full planning consent, not just planning permission in principle, is given.
    • No exploration has been undertaken of using the current building to attract new businesses and jobs.
    • No outside interest has been sought with a view to revamping/exploiting the existing building/site.
    • No rationale has been given for change of use to largely residential.
  • Concerning the application for rebuilding/redevelopment (16/05454/PPP)
    • Scale and density of proposed redevelopment still breaches CEC & Historic Environment Scotland (HES) guidance.
    • No cohesion in overall plan. Instead, there are piecemeal concepts: e.g. blocks stepped back to street.
    • Lack of detail on heights/distances
    • Proposed height of ‘pods’ in car park opposite RC does not meet HES guidance
    • Proposed height of residential blocks FR still too high
    • Creeping extension of retail/hotel etc blocks facing Eyre Place
    • Inadequate provision for likely traffic impact, including number of cars using Eyre Terrace entrance/parking
    • Likely severe impact on local GP surgeries/schools without planning for extra provision for >1000 new residents
    • Inadequate extra green space
    • Unconvincing arguments re sunlight/daylight within King George V Park and surrounding streets
    • Likely deleterious impact via vibration/subsidence given geological vulnerability of A-listed buildings
  • Summary

The proposed redevelopment will damage the world heritage status of the city even though the site, still in a conservation area, is just beyond its boundaries: too high, too dense, too dominant, too noisy, too polluting.

2.2         NTBCC’s position

R Price outlined NTBCC’s current position. NTBCC shares many of FRRCA’s concerns but is commenting just now only on the changes shown in the most recent application. NTBCC’s position on un-amended elements of the application remains unchanged.

  • There should be a buffer around the World Heritage (WH) area: buildings in that buffer should be subservient to buildings within the WH site.
  • The blocks next to FR should be 6 storeys high. (The original plans had 8 storeys, the new plans have 7.)
  • Concerning the 4 blocks on RC, NTBCC is aware of discussions between HES (a statutory consultee) and the applicant, but is not yet aware whether HES approves the current proposed heights. (HES’ view is due to be published on or before 19 Jan.)
  • NTBCC urges CEC to take appropriate notice of issues raised by sunlight/daylight studies concerning Eyre Place.
  • Concerning the mix of uses, NTBCC is disappointed the applicant still wants option of 100% residential. NTBCC favours there being at least half as much office use as at present.
  • NTBCC favours underground parking (in the current plans about 300 spaces). NTBCC observes that in some other recent developments, CEC has restricted on-site parking but has then determined that residents are eligible for on street parking permits.
  • Concerning landscaping, trees etc, NTBCC suggests that details should be reserved to the future full application – and cover all of the site – so that landscaping will match what will actually be built.
  • Concerning impact on existing residents, NTBCC welcomes management/mitigation plans but urges CEC to request “good-faith” commitments concerning dilapidation surveys. (NTBCC notes that these can’t be legally enforced.)
    • DH noted that when the data centre was built, damage was caused to existing buildings despite efforts to avoid this.
  • NTBCC welcomes work on socio-economic assessments (rates, GPs/health etc), but notes that this work uses as its baseline that the site is currently derelict and supports no jobs. Hence a few jobs in corner shops are seen as a gain. The Gross Value Added assessment shows that office jobs maximise economic benefit. Hence supporting NTBCC’s position on mixed uses.
  • There is little detail on alternative uses of the site or re-use of the building, so NTBCC regrets plans for 100% demolition.
    • Demolition decision should be delayed until CEC has clearly decided how the site actually will be used.

2.3         Position of Friends of King George V Park

  • FOKGV have similar objections to those outlined above, but add that the park must not be used for builders’ access. FOKGV notes that Eyre Terrace only ‘works’ because it is 1-way, and has concerns over its use by builders and then new residents.
    • A resident suggested that a fence around the park should be crowd-funded if the developers do not build one.

2.4         Cllr Osler’s input

  • She is recused from this application because she has commented on it previously.
  • Comments and objections must be ‘material’, e.g. concerning amenity (whatever currently exists, e.g. loss of light, can’t walk dog in park, clean air, noise, vibration, effect on WH area, being in conservation site) and parking. Issues around numbers of doctors, school places etc are not material.
  • It would be helpful if submissions refer to named, specific parts of the application and the local development plan.
  • CEC’s planning committee can impose various restrictions (if they are enforceable), e.g. disallowing a development from having resident parking on the public highway.
    • A resident responded that people will park in the streets if there is not enough on-site parking.
    • I Mowat suggested that this is another reason for limiting the residential use of the site.

2.5         NTBCC members’ comments

  • C Collins: the key is the number of residential units – people should push for as few as possible, using short, material submissions written in their own words.
    • D Hogg added that submissions made at PAN stage must be resubmitted.
    • I Mowat recommended looking at the local development plan, and added that submissions on the previous application will be taken into account. However, it would be worthwhile resubmitting ‘I reiterate my previous submission…’ and ensuring that CEC cannot respond that the new plans meet previous comments. (For example the new plans already have ‘only’ 7 storeys, which may meet original submission wishing fewer storeys than the originally-planned 8 storeys.)
    • H Osler encouraged resubmissions that clarify wishes in this manner.
  • A Welsh: people should be aware that this is an application for outline permission, and that future, full plans could be different.
  • S Hajducki: submissions are more helpful if they say what ‘should be’ as well as, or instead of what ‘should not be’.
    • For example, submissions could say ‘the buildings should be X storeys’ or ‘there should be no development at all’.
  • I Mowat: RBS are trying to sell the with outline planning permission, to maximise its purchase price.

2.6         Residents and visitors’ comments

  • One supported NTBCC’s ‘regret’ of 100% demolition, suggesting that the existing buildings can be used for social housing.
  • It was noted that the application will go before CEC’s development management committee, and is very likely to go to a full hearing. NTBCC would have 15 minutes to present its case at this hearing – it might give some of this time to FRRCA. However, FRRCA could apply for its own slot.
  • Another asked about the logic of demolishing the existing data centre. (R Price suggested that none has been stated.)
    • Cllr Osler added that this is a ‘windfall’ site: although the LDP had not designated it for housing, it can be used for this.
  • Another stated that there is currently much vacant office space nearby, and so queried whether this site needs office use.
    • R Price responded that 100% residential would stress infrastructure (even though this is not material) and that CEC’s economic development unit wishes some replacement of current/former (office) uses. RP suggested that Edinburgh is short of office space. However, new office space needs to be in appropriate places, e.g. on tram route.
  • Another asked what laws concern population density. I Mowat and Cllr Osler responded that there is none that directly specifies PD. (There are regulations on minimum sizes and spacing of flats on %age development of sites.)
  • Another thanked Cllr Osler for attending, but suggested that this plan ‘turned off’ voters due to effects on existing residents.
  • Another expressed frustration that effects on infrastructure are not material.
    • It was suggested that comments on infrastructure could be in comments, after comments on material concerns.
    • Another suggested that because local schools are already full, this might sway wishes around office/residential balance.
  • Another noted that CEC conservation area policy requires new buildings to complement existing ones (Des4 of LDP).
  • Another asked how the community can get what it wants. (It was suggested that CEC could organise charettes.)
  • Another suggested that while only a few people actually love the existing RBS building, many fear  years of development.
  • It was noted that Historic Environment Scotland are due to submit further comments soon. If HES makes a formal objection, it can insist that applications go before the Scottish Reporter.

2.7         Final comments

  • Submissions must be made on or before 15 January.
    • R Price suggested that people could contact NTBCC via its website, or look at submissions it has posted there.
  • NTBCC is looking to co-opt 2 more members.

3           Date of next meeting