NTBCC minutes Monday 8 November 2021

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’.

1 Technology check

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

Richard Price chaired the meeting in the absence of NTBCC’s chair, Carol Nimmo.

2 Welcome/Admin/Apologies/Well-being

2.a Attendance

Mike Birch NTBCC, RRCTMA Richard Price NTBCC
David Clarke NTBCC Nick Reid NTBCC, India St Association
Susan Duff NTBCC David Renton NTBCC
Annick Gaillard NTBCC Peter Williamson NTBCC, Picardy Residents
Laura Graham NTBCC Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Alan McIntosh Broughton Spurtle
Deirdre Henderson NTBCC Cllr Joanna Mowat City Centre ward
Simon Holledge NTBCC/EACC Cllr Claire Miller City Centre ward
Jack Hugh NTBCC Cllr Max Mitchell Inverleith ward
Ken Lochrie NTBCC ~10 residents/visitors
Stewart Mills NTBCC/GKSA

2.b Apologies for absence

Susan Macinnes NTBCC Cllr Hal Osler Inverleith ward
Carol Nimmo NTBCC Foysol Choudhury MSP Lothian region
Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan Leith Walk ward

2.c NTBCC membership update

  • Susan Duff announced her resignation from NTBCC due to becoming a Sheriff.
  • Drummond St Associationrepresentative (Ken Lochrie) confirmed by CEC Governance.
  • Gt King St Association is now represented by Stewart Mills.
  • 2 further local interest groups could be represented on NTBCC (6 currently filled).
  • There are vacancies for 4 voting (elected or co-opted) members.

3 Minutes of monthly meeting held on 11th October 2021

Approved as-is (proposed M Birch, seconded P Williamson, ND)

3.a Matters arising

None not covered below

4 Police report

  • No police report received.
  • L Graham has written to Police Scotland about the lack of data in previous police reports – awaiting

5 Licensing

  • N Reid: no applications this month for NTBCC area
  • There have been discussions of licensing applications for the Christmas market and ‘Alpine Village’ in St James Square but there is lack of clarity over the application process, and whether NTBCC is notified of applications.
    • Action: NTBCC licensing cttee to pursue this.

6 Engagement and Communications, Including news from local Residents’ Associations

6.a NTBCC ‘trial’ walkabout and future plans

All points by S Holledge unless otherwise noted. See also SH’s slides on NTBCC website.

  • Slide 1: the route of the trial (on 26 October) went from Gayfield Square, via Gayfield St, Union St, Hart St, Broughton Place, Broughton St and East London St, back to Gayfield Square. The walkabout was undertaken by 6 members of NTBCC. The walkabout took about 75 minutes.
  • Slide 2: checks were for overflowing and unhygienic bins, litter, blocked drains, graffiti, derelict BT boxes, damaged trees, overgrown hedges, out-of-sync traffic lights, neglected public spaces, etc.
    • Findings were blocked drains, poorly repaired roads and potholes, unhygienic bins and litter, and neglected heritage lamp-posts in Forth St.
    • Actions were (1) blocked drains and neglected lamp-posts were reported to CEC; (2) some litter was taken away.
  • Slide 03: setts have been replaced or covered with tarmac in Gayfield Square and Gayfield St.
    • It is not clear whether this is due to subsidence, utility companies not replacing setts after removing them for work, or other reasons. It is not clear who is responsible, or whether the setts can be replaced/reinstated.
    • R Price: Bellevue Crescent was originally setted but had been tarmacked over some years ago. When SGN worked here recently, it excavated several trenches, uncovering the original setts but these were taken away rather than relaid. . Although this road is now tarmacked, the future opportunity to uncover the setts here (in a Conservation area & in front of listed buildings) is now less likely. East London St (which is also setted) has suffered subsidence, many areas ‘repaired’ with tarmac patches.
    • A resident: Setts seem to be ignored when roads are repaired in many places.
    • A resident: When SGN worked in and around Wemyss Place, it took away setts.
    • R Price: When SGN worked in Drummond Place / Scotland Street (which is currently setted) , setts were removed and then relaid but then cemented in place . This prevents rainwater being absorbed into the ground. Also it may be that streets are tacmacked temporarily, to allow ground to settle, before setts are replaced.
    • L Graham: residents have needed to replace setts in their driveways, but utility companies appear not to need to.
    • Cllr Mowat: CEC’s policy for setted streets is ‘replace like with like’. Setts may be removed, cleaned and then replaced. Utility companies should leave roads as – or better than – before. I will pursue these examples. Unless the work is for an emergency, companies should go via CEC roads regulator, so CEC should be aware of such work.
    • K Lochrie: what checking does CEC actually do?
    • Cllr Mowat: there may be some questions to be asked here.
  • Slide 04: Cllr Mowat, ‘sensitive’ drains are fixed within 6 months. It has taken 2·5 years to fix a non-sensitive drain.
    • Problems can be reported via https://webforms.edinburgh.gov.uk/site/portal/request/gully
    • S Hajducki: with increasing rainfall, flooding has been caused by blocked drains. CEC should prioritise unblocking.
    • Cllr Mitchell: one of the relevant vehicles was out of service for some time. There are different types of intervention, and a lack of resources. People should get a reference number and chase up when they report issues.
  • Slide 05: some lamp-posts on Forth St are the same as 19th-century ones displayed in the Museum of Edinburgh. It is hoped that CEC will maintain them, and replace the incorrect tops.
  • Slide 06: the next walkabout is likely to be on 15 December, going from Drummond Place, via Dublin Meuse, Abercromby Place, Northumberland St, Great King St, Cumberland St, back to Drummond Place.
    • It would help if a CEC drains officer, and CEC councillors attended.
    • M Birch: RRCTMA did a community clean-up. CEC supplied equipment, and took away collected litter.
    • Action: M Birch to obtain equipment from CEC for NTBCC walkabouts / or arrange that RRCTMA equipment is available if required.
    • L Graham: residents’ associations could take part. Gayfield Square association has just applied for CEC equipment.
    • S Holledge: RAs were asked to join the first walkabout.
    • K Lochrie: there are issues with drainage on Scotland St. which caused flooding in Royal Crescent / Fettes Row in July 2021
    • A McIntosh: records should be kept of amounts of litter collected on walkabouts, to know how much CEC fails.
    • L Graham: this work is ‘sweat equity’ – can a relevant board be formed?
    • D Henderson: it is common to quantify volunteer time spent on pro-social projects. Such work includes prevention.

6.b ‘Adopt a street’ by local residents’ / friends’ groups /clean ups/ encouraging awareness of NTBCC

  • L Graham: can we encourage action, e.g. via council-tax discounts?
    • Cllr Mowat: council tax rates cannot be altered from the city-wide rates. By-laws were abolished when unitary authorities were introduced.
    • Cllr Mowat: there is a commitment to review local outcome improvement plans, because they date from before the pandemic, and CEC is committed to better community planning
    • N Reid: how about ‘best-kept street’ competition?
    • M Birch: are there CEC community grants?
    • Cllr Mowat: most relevant CEC schemes are project-based, because they should not be about what CEC should do itself anyway. There were environmental funds, but these have been stopped.
    • R Price: civic pride and competition could be highly motivating. Does Water of Leith Conservation Trust, which does good things, receive CEC funding?
    • D Clarke: it is unlikely that CEC has spare money. Perhaps sponsorship by local businesses would work. Can Cllr Mowat look into how this might be done?
    • S Holledge: Neighbourhood Networks (NNs) have disbursed very small amounts to constituted bodies, so surely RAs could apply for such grants.
    • Cllr Mowat: CEC is looking into corporate sponsorship of roundabouts. NNs do have small-grants schemes, which can go to discrete projects by constituted groups. There is also a communication fund that CCs can apply to. Come to me with concrete ideas! I will then check how they might be supported.
    • Action: NTBCC to pursue such matters via its comms and engagement committtee.

7 Planning

Action: R Price to issue NTBCC’s November planning report

7.a Gayfield Square 5G tower approved application – options for approving its appearance?

All points by A Gaillard unless otherwise noted.

  • R Price: A couple of applications for 5G masts have already been approved for significant (important heritage) locations.
  • These applications were on the normal list of planning applications, but were described as ‘telecoms equipment’, which did not appear concerning. However, a 20m-high mast and related cabinets on Montgomery St got prior approval, due to being outside the conservation area. The mast is painted black, as is proposed for the Gayfield Square mast. This will be 5m higher than local lamp-posts. The Montgomery St cabinet has already attracted much Gayfield Square is in the World heritage site, the New Town Conservation area, and is a designated garden area. CEC policy requires telecoms equipment to be as hidden as possible, and this has not been done in Montgomery St.
  • Other locations considered were Union St, Annandale St, Leopold St, Royal Terrace, but these were rejected because the mast would have been directly in front of houses. On Gayfield Square, the mast will be at least 45m from housing. However, the mast will still be highly visible, so CEC should take into account visual amenity.
  • A second such application, by a different telecoms company for a temporary mast on Drumsheugh Gardens, has also just been approved.(for a period of 2 years)
    • R Price: not sure if it is likely that permanent approval will be given in 2 years’ time.
  • NB 5G masts are not new to Edinburgh. However, one has been rejected in Juniper Green.
    • R Price: NTBCC does not argue against Edinburgh having a 5G network, but policy does require consideration of alternatives, and it is not clear that this has happened for Gayfield Square and Drumsheugh Gardens. There are many telecoms operators, so there may be a glut of such applications. NTBCC should use CEC’s complaints procedure about these masts, so that subsequent applications (and relevant alternatives) are considered well.
    • L Graham: There will be many such masts, because they need to be ~60m apart. However, the problem is delegated decision-making. If residents need to go through a complex process to remove trees etc, why do applications for such masts benefit from delegation?
    • Cllr Mowat: see the note I have just forwarded to LG. Sometimes decisions are delegated, but most applications for masts outside the conservation area and the world heritage area go through the ‘prior approval’ process, because legislation mandates this. In conservation areas, applications go through planning permission processes. Grounds for CEC to object to masts are very limited, as are the ways in which it can ask for masts to be ‘beautified’.
    • L Graham: why were no residents notified until after approval?
    • Cllr Mowat: this may be because notification is only required for neighbours closer than 20m.
    • L Graham: this rule was abused by deliberately siting the mast in the middle of the square.
    • S Duff: what representations can still be made to CEC? What impact might they have?
    • Cllr Mowat: representations need to be made at the time of notification. I will forward future applications I receive to NTBCC. I will think about what I can do about approved applications, and look into their histories and fit with policies, etc.
    • The applications were on the normal list (confirmed by the Spurtle), and the sites are more than 20m from houses. Sneakiness was [also] in how the masts were described in the applications. Because operators tend not to share masts, it is possible that masts will be closer than 60m apart.
    • L Graham: some operators claim to have approached residents/NTBCC, but this is not true for these applications. A representative has claimed that her company has tried to work with NTBCC.
    • K Lochrie: what would happen if a mast was proposed for a private garden?
    • Cllr Mowat: Properties (but not owners who live elsewhere) within 20m would be notified.
    • R Price: there are many applicants that do more than the minimum regarding Neighbour Notifications.
    • S Holledge: my upstairs neighbours applied for listed building consent but I was not notified. There should be an email-based alert system.
    • R Price: I understand that legislation does not call for notifications for LBC applications.
  • Action: Agreed NTBCC to follow the complaints procedure about these masts.

7.b Beaverhall / Powderhall applications / proposals – update

All points by R Price unless otherwise noted

  • HUB has purchased the former biscuit factory on Beaverhall Road (the red-brick building with a large Egyptian mural), and other properties on Dunedin St. So it now has a large area, which is currently mostly non-residential, for which it plans ‘residential-led’ development. HUB will present to NTBCC in December, but NTBCC planning will meet with HUB before that. The area should be considered holistically.

7.c Alpine village

  • A Gaillard: Bar Hütte is opening today. It consists of 12 huts, each having 2 open sides and plexiglass backs, and possibly poor noise-proofing. At their back is St James Square (13 residential addresses), which has not received notification.
    • Two relevant applications for occasional public entertainment licenses, due to commence on 11 November were due to be considered on Friday by CEC licensing (with windows for comments closing on Friday), but were granted by delegated authority. Hence it is not clear how the huts can be opened today.
    • R Price: NTBCC will submit a comment tomorrow, focussing on the effect of noise on residential amenity. I fear that the huts are a fait accompli, and that there will not be much consideration of comments that have already been lodged.
    • The application, if granted, would mean that these huts are permitted from 2021 to 2024 (a period of 4 years). It would be preferable that they should be granted permission only for a year, on a trial basis so that their impacts can be assessed.

8 Transport

All points by M Birch unless otherwise noted

8.a Low Emission Zone: update following recent council decisions

  • M Birch: CEC transport and environment (TEC) did not approve plans this week. How did this happen, and what’s to happen?
  • Cllr Miller: TEC had expected plans to pass. My amendment was approved. Additional work will be carried out because there are concerns that work so far has not covered reducing greenhouse gases (as legislation requires), only nitrogen oxides. A report is due in January. I am currently working out what TEC needs to know to make a decision then. It is hoped that this would follow the original timetable, while making any necessary changes.
  • M Birch: NTBCC is concerned about displaced traffic along the LEZ’s boundary.
  • Cllr Miller: I said that this topic needs to be reviewed: on all sides of the LEZ, vehicles may take boundary routes or other routes to avoid the LEZ. This would cause unwanted displacement. I also raised concerns about the grace period. Hence it may be that other measures are needed in boundary areas.
  • M Birch: the planned LEZ would cover 2·5% of Edinburgh. What about the other 97·5%?
  • S Holledge: should there be a whole-city LEZ?
  • Cllr Miller: this is the Green group’s position. The LEZ should include private cars, but initial proposals for a whole-city LEZ only covered commercial vehicles.
  • S Holledge: what mechanisms could be used to mitigate CO2 emissions?
  • Cllr Miller: 2019 legislation states what local authorities can do, using Euro specifications. However, although the legislation says that LEZs must aim to reduce greenhousegas production, it does not specify how this should be done. Hence I am pushing CEC officers to fill this gap, but we are struggling to understand how this can be done, and prove that it is done. I am concerned that if an LEZ tackles only one objective, overall things may become worse.
  • Cllr Miller: Queen St and York Place are outwith the planned LEZ.
  • R Price: can we learn from other Scottish cities? There is a danger that we end up doing nothing.
  • Cllr Miller: it is critical that we undertake correct actions in the permitted timescale. CEC differs from other Scottish cities in that it uses a strategic (higher-level) traffic model that does not take into account individual journeys. It looks at end-to-end traffic flows. This lack of granularity may be hindering progress. Hence it is worth looking at other cities. NTBCC and other affected CCs could make a deputation.

8.b Current proposal for EV Charging Point locations (India St / Heriot Row / E. London St)

  • Draft TROs have been issued – see website for consultation, closing 15 November, for 11 on-street charging points. 3 of them are planned for NTBCC streets. The TRO only shows the points’ locations and gross dimensions, but other CEC web-pages show that there will be 8 chargers serving the 16 bays in these NTBCC streets, and that CEC has awarded a contract to BP Pulse to install chargers. BP Pulse’s website shows three designs, each looking like petrol pumps. It is not clear which design is planned for Edinburgh streets.
  • It is likely that these will be considered as ‘permitted development’, so there may well be little opportunity for discussing potential effects on the conservation area and residents.
    • N Reid: India St chargers will be on a very residential part of the street, but are described as being for ‘taxi and general’ use. Hence a quiet cul-de-sac may well become a 24/7 charging hub for many vehicles. Residents would be happy about getting charging points if they could use them. I have been unable to find why this site was chosen for taxi-chargers and not residential ones.
    • M Birch: E London St residents have also contacted NTBCC, supporting the idea of chargers, but being very concerned about the chosen location (a narrow part near the primary school). NTBCC needs to know how locations were chosen, and what opportunities for changing plans exist. There will be more consultation, but it would be helpful to engage with CEC transport officials. The overall picture is unclear, e.g. how have heritage bodies been involved in selection of chargers for the conservation area and World Heritage site.
    • M Birch: there has been correspondence about ‘Trojan’ charging systems, which are below-ground so do not impact conservation areas as much.
    • A resident: this would be much less intrusive, so this is an important matter.
    • A resident: Heriot Row residents will be interested in which parking bays have been nominated to host chargers.
    • K Lochrie: is there a master plan for chargers, or is it ad-hoc? (A master plan would be vastly preferable.)
    • Cllr Miller: I saw a map of proposed locations quite some time ago (possibly 2018 or 2019). There is a phased approach, focussing on covering densely populated areas first.
    • Cllr Mowat: this is phase 1, details of which are on CEC’s website. There are no approvals yet for phase 2, due to funding not yet being available.
    • M Birch: the contract didn’t go through CEC finance and resources. If it’s not done by March 2022, CEC will not receive Scottish Government funds.
    • S Holledge: BP Pulse appears to have a reputation for not maintaining its chargers. Trojan is a Scottish company. The speed of charging is important: slow chargers are suitable for people charging cars overnight, but taxis and visitors will want rapid chargers. Has CEC explained its thinking on this topic?
    • Action: NTBCC to submit its questions to CEC
    • Action: B Ryan to draft a post of the maps of proposed chargers, R Price to add text and then publish the post.

8.c ‘Living Streets’ seminar – issues with speeding including Royal Terrace

No discussion

8.d Updates from Trams to Newhaven team (CCTT meetings) including Elm Row works

8.d.i Picardy Place

  • CCTT continues to monitor impact of changes, including meeting with Lothian Buses and Trams team. The main impact seems to be a 15-minute delay at certain times and days to buses using York Place. There is also a loss of pedestrian and cycle crossings: there is a crossing by the Playhouse, with the next one being at Annandale St. TT has been asked whether it can provide more pedestrian and cycle access.
    • A Gaillard: people coming along Queen St who want to turn left onto Broughton Road cannot do so, so carry on to Union St and Broughton St Lane, to get to Broughton St.
    • M Birch: the left turn was banned some time ago, and TT is reluctant to undo this due to Broughton St having been narrowed. Perhaps there should be signage to keep people on better routes.
    • A resident: there has been much congestion on Broughton St, leading to increased traffic on London St.
    • D Henderson: there is also increased traffic on Albany St, Abercromby St etc, backed up to Canonmills, where there are also recent roadworks adding to the issues.
    • M Birch: it is difficult to balance traffic on York Place and Broughton St. Lothian Buses is trying to keep services on their normal routes, but may re-route them if delays are serious. This would have its own consequences. There is no obvious way to solve problems, given how much is being dug up. The impending closure of North Bridge will also have an impact.
    • D Henderson: when will cafés’ and restaurants’ structures that block streets (e.g. on Hannover St) be removed?

8.d.ii Elm Row

  • CCTT is submitting its concerns to the trams team and local councillors on the design of this area. NTBCC, Living Streets, the Edinburgh Access Panel and Spokes believe that the planned design is not good for pedestrian and cyclist safety. The design is at an advanced stage, but this has been hidden by landscape drawings only recently becoming available. They show cycle paths to be the absolute minimum requirement, no grade separation between cycle paths and pavements, parking bays overlapping cycle-paths. These were not picked up in design review before now.
  • L Graham: Both Gayfield Square’s entrances are open on Elm Row. There was a block between the square and London St. I could not go from London St to the square. Is this planned to be permanent?
  • M Birch: traffic lights will be installed here late in 2022. Police asked for the opening at the bottom of Gayfield Square.
  • L Graham: this has made the square into a rat-run. Could one side of the square be closed?
  • Action: M Birch and L Graham to delve into this outwith the meeting

9 PSMP – consultation (ends 15 December) & Council motion ‘Amplification of sound in public spaces’

  • R Price: NTBCC’s PSMP team will respond to this consultation.
    • Action: S Holledge to draft the response, other members to help finalise it.
  • R Price: Thanks to Cllr Osler (and to NTBCC’s deputation) for getting the ‘Amplification of sound in Public Spaces’ motion passed

10 Environment

10.a Update from Environment Committee meeting on Communal Bin Review across NTBCC area & Council ‘engagement session on 17 November (at Broughton St Mary’s)

  • R Price: NTBCC environment ctte should finalise plans. CEC has planned some engagement sessions. (Broughton St Mary’s 17 November, 09:45 to 13:45 is the nearest.)
  • P Williamson: residents have not yet received notification of these sessions.
    • I wrote to CEC Director of Place on the basis of his report that the World Heritage site would be subject to further options appraisal. His reply, received today, answered no questions.

10.b GPB Campaign update

  • M Birch: there is also a session on 26 November in the Rose Theatre café

10.c City Plan 2030

People can make representations on the proposed City Plan 2030 during the six week representation period running from 7 November to the 20 December 2021 through the consultation hub. https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/cityplan2030

11 Treasurer update

No discussion

12 Any other business

No items