NTBCC ordinary meeting minutes – Monday 13 May 2019

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s ordinary meeting, held in Drummond Room, Broughton St Mary’s church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 13 May 2019 at 7.30pm

Actions and decisions are red italic. nem con means that no-one spoke or voted against a decision.

1 Attendance and apologies for absence

Margaret Duffy NTBCC Chrissie Ross NTBCC
Simon Holledge NTBCC communications convenor Fran Wasoff NTBCC
Jack Hugh NTBCC Bruce Ryan NTBCC minutes secretary
Stuart McAllister NTBCC PC Chris Green Police Scotland
Carol Nimmo NTBCC chair Cllr Joanna Mowat City Centre ward
Lewis Press NTBCC environment convenor Alan Macintosh Broughton Spurtle
Richard Price NTBCC planning convenor 6 residents/visitors

1.1 Apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Susan MacInnes NTBCC
Judy Conn NTBCC secretary Sheila Warnock
Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer, licensing convenor Alan Welsh NTBCC
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Cllr Any McNeese Mechan Leith Walk ward
Allan Jack NTBCC transport convenor Deirdre Brock MP Edinburgh North & Leith

2 Minutes of meeting of 8th April and matters arising

The minutes were approved subject to amending some typos (proposed L Press, seconded R Price, nem con)

It was asked whether all the detail in the report was necessary. The chair noted that NTBCC had preferred to include detail, including the statistics. It was suggested that statistical analysis of crimes over time is needed.

  • It was suggested that minuting procedure should stay as is, providing an accurate record, but that NTBCC should resume publishing summaries soon after each meetings. (Minutes are published a month after meetings.)

2.1 Matters arising

Item 2.1: held over

3 Police report

PC Green reported the following crimes in NTBCC’s area to the end of April 2019

  • 3 house-breakings
    • Cornwallis Place (daytime, 23 April: door forced)
    • Heriot Row (between 18 and 21 April: main door forced, >£100,000 of jewellery stolen, enquiries ongoing)
    • Young St (4 April: garage door forced, but motion alarm alerted police, leading to arrest of 3 people)

Lessons from these incidents include that householders should: make sure security is up to date (including having burglar alarms); get police advice on security; join Neighbourhood Watch.

It was noted that there is poor street-lighting and no CCTV in Heriot Row.

  • Theft of Virgin ATM on Castle St, using stolen car. Enquiries are ongoing.
  • Skimming device on Bank of Scotland ATM at St Andrews Square (6 April). Such offences are getting less frequent.
  • Vandalism to a vehicle on Royal Terrace
  • Most other incidents arise from the night-time economy. It has not been a particularly busy area for police this month.

3.1 Questions and answers

  • Concerning antisocial behaviour at Waverley Mall, PC Green is there every back-shift. This problem keeps on getting shifted from place to place. The majority of youths do not cause problems – there are just a few trouble-makers committing vandalism, targeting foreign tourists, drinking and occasional taking drugs. Police are working with British Transport Police to increase security in the mall.
  • Concerning apparently increasing numbers of beggars, begging is not a police issue because it is not an offence to beg. However, PC Green does ask beggars to move on from cash machines. He noted that Glasgow has by-laws on begging, and that police give beggars information on support services. He also noted that some beggars are not homeless.
    • It was suggested that NTBCC works with OTCC on this issue.
    • An NTBCC member suggested that begging should be made a criminal offence. However other members suggested that this is a problem that requires better solutions.
    • Cllr Mowat noted that CEC has commissioned a report from Shelter on why people beg. She noted that some people will not use support services, because some hostels insist on abstinence.
    • PC Green added that psychiatric nurses sometimes accompany police ‘begging-patrols’, and that the number of rough sleepers has fallen considerably in the last 3 years. This is because there is more ‘sofa-surfing’ and use of hostels. The Salvation Army now has ‘direct access’, so people can be housed much more quickly.
    • PC Green could not answer how many beggars do so as a job, as opposed to being genuinely homeless.
    • Action: Cllr Mowat to forward Shelter’s report to NTBCC

4 Licensing

See also monthly report (Appendix 1). F Wasoff reported

  • NTBCC had objected to an application by a kebab shop in Rodney St to stay open later, because the shop was in the ground floor of a tenement. FW attended the licensing board meeting, at which the applicant submitted letters at the hearing that were apparently from residents stating they did not oppose the application. This apparently fulfilled policy that applications for late licenses that would affect residents are to be denied unless residents support the applications, so this application succeeded.
    • FW stated that there was no advance notice of these letters, and that there was no check on which neighbours wrote the letters. Hence NTBCC’s policy might need to change because it cannot object unless it is certain that neighbours will not support applications. (FW was not in favour of this change.)
    • FW stated that this event had lack of due process, because the evidence was not examined properly. Also, she was not allowed to speak at this board.
    • Cllr Mowat suggested that NTBCC writes to the licensing board convenor, stating that process was not followed.
  • FW also tried to access documents relating to an alcohol license. (Such documents are not online, unlike planning applications.) It took a long time for copies of the documents to be produced, and they arrived heavily redacted. Hence the civic licensing process is severely lacking.
    • A resident noted similar experiences with applications for marketing stall. He had to submit a written objection (because this cannot be done online) including his name and address, and feared that such personal details might be passed on to applicants, who might then take undue action.
    • Cllr Mowat noted that civic licensing depends on a complex set of legislation, some of which are from the 19thcentury. Such regulations were last reviewed in 1982 (via a Licensing Act), so she believes a further review is long overdue. There is a set of items that local authorities can regulate, but not all LAs regulate all items. (Some are not relevant to them.) For example, short-term lets cannot be licensed because they are not covered by the 1982 Act.
    • She has been pressing for alcohol and other civic licensing to be online for 12 years.
    • She noted that Edinburgh has not had bylaws [1] since the creation of the unitary LAs in 1996. Hence she is concerned about the ‘free-for-all’ around street-trading licenses. These need to be assessed by CEC’s roads department

Action: F Wasoff to write to CEC, objecting to the procedure followed in the kebab-shop application, and objecting to the procedure for obtaining licensing documentation in general, and to CEC not issuing all relevant information it holds.

5 Planning

See also monthly report (Appendix 2). R Price reported

5.1 Royal Bank of Scotland

This ‘trundles on’. There is no firm knowledge of how the new purchasers will use the land.

5.2 IMPACT Scotland

There was a good discussion at the Development Management Committee (DMC), where NTBCC made a presentation along with Edinburgh World heritage and the Cockburn Association. NTBCC also made sure that residents could speak: some were for, some against the application. It was passed 6:4 in favour.

The impact of servicing the centre may be problematic: it will be via Elder St, then a hole in the wall into the RBS car-park.

5.3 Johnny Walker experience

This application was passed unanimously by the DMC.

5.4 Dublin colonies

There have been many objections, and the application has been withdrawn.

5.5 Development on Broughton Road (former rear garden of 13 Claremont Crescent)

RP was approached by Claremont Crescent residents, and took part in a site visit. His objection has been accepted.

5.6 Baxter’s Place

There has been a number of applications. One application has been refused but is awaiting judicial review. Two other applications are about turning the property into a 16-bed boutique hotel, and to extend the basement. (The latter has been withdrawn.) RP and others have submitted objections.

  • A resident familiar with the property says there has been no activity since Good Friday. There are issues with the basement access/emergency exit. One application was withdrawn because it had the wrong address. A corrected version is due to be submitted. However, it is clear that the owner wishes to use the building for commercial purposes. There is much confusion over dates for comments
  • A Macintosh added that he regularly checks CEC’s planning portal frequently. Over the last 6 months, inaccuracies have increased.

5.7 Waverley masterplan

NTBCC had decided it would be involved with this even though the station is outwith NTBCC’s area. Arup and Network Rail put on a quite good presentation at their exhibition. RP’s opinion is that there is a case for action: Waverley does not work very well in terms of access, internal movement and connections to public transport. Hence many of the ideas being explored are worthwhile. These include a covered walkway, relocating commercial activities to a proposed mezzanine level, and further work on entrances and exits.

  • He believes that the station cannot be considered in isolation, and that this has been recognised.
  • There is debate as to whether the station is a station or a heritage asset. To install the mezzanine level, the room must be raised.
  • A resident stated that the consultation is faulty: it doesn’t allow for negative views on entrances and exits under consideration. Also, previously someone had decided how high buildings in the area could become. The proposed roof-raise is within this limit. However, there is concern about obscuring views of the Old Town skyline from Princes St.
  • Concern was expressed about cycle-access to the remodelled station.
  • RP added that quite often, NTBCC has submitted written applications, rather than be constrained by online forms. It was noted that Cliff Hague of the Cockburn Institute has strong concerns about the standards of CEC consultations.
  • In view of the poor consultation, B Ryan offered to put NTBCC in contact with the Consultation Institute.
  • A resident stated that she received information less than a week before the consultation closed, so did not have time to write an objection.
    • R Price noted that there will be further opportunities to object/comment.

5.8 Other items

  • S McAllister asked about contact from a resident who lives near the former Earthy. R Price explained that the owners also own Canon Court Apartments, and are using its to host building impedimenta, including a noisy generator. There are noise conditions in the relevant planning application. Action: Cllr Mowat to look into this.

6 Environment

See also monthly report (Appendix 3). L Press reported

  • The first meeting of the Waste Forum for over a year will take place on 2o May. There is no agenda yet, so L Press has made suggestions on collection of communal bins, and lack of collection of recycling boxes.
  • Collection of garden waste has been ‘disasterous’. (Other attendees confirmed that waste collection in general has been poor.) A review of the garden waste scheme has been made, but is not available online.
  • L Press will demit as convenor of NTBCC’s environment committee after the waste forum meeting.

M Duffy noted that people are monitoring waste collections in the Bonnington area. Separate companies collect normal waste, recycling and garden waste. There will be a bin site-visit on 21 May – she will report back on this.

7 Transport

See also monthly report (Appendix 4).

7.1 Crane on Leith St

B Ryan reported that, contrary to Laing O’Rourke’s statement in April that ‘Cyclists will need to dismount to go around the crane’, (see minutes, item 5) this evening he and other cyclists had to dismount at the very top of Leith St and walk with his bike to the junction with Greenside Place. He also observed other cyclists cycling on the pedestrian path next to the closed road, without any action by people working on the site. Further, at the Greenside Place junction, there was no clear indication of how to resume cycling along the single lane used for both uphill and downhill travel. Instead, he had to wait until cars started emerging from Greenside Place, and stay ahead of them.

C Nimmo reported that Carlton Terrace Brae has now been closed. (It was being used as a rat-run.)

  • Action: B Ryan to write to Laing O’Rourke, including text from C Nimmo about Carlton Terrace Brae

Cllr Mowat noted that the next CEC transport meeting is on Thursday. It will cover the city centre transformation consultation, and the Meadows to George St cycle-lane consultation.

She also noted that there will be much resurfacing work before the tram-construction starts. See LHNCC website.

  • R Price questioned the need for all of these streets to be resurfaced, when others need it more.
  • Action: RP to provide NTBCC ‘opinion text’, then B Ryan to replicate LHNCC’s post of the list of affected streets.
  • A resident mentioned shared use parking spaces. However, depending on what happens to George St, some spaces may be lost. She stated that CEC are not looking at issues holistically, i.e. are not considering effects outwith loci.
  • It was noted that there are some issues with spaces that will be used for on-street charging of electric cars.

8 Communication

S Holledge had nothing to add to the communications section in the annual report to the AGM.

9 Localities/local residents’ associations

M Duffy reported

  • There are issues with the SGN programme: local residents and businesses are concerned. SGN have taken a long time to state when works on various streets will start. It has not started work when it said it would. For example, a restaurant that uses gas for cooking was simply told with very little notice that its gas supply would be cut off. Hence SGN needs to do more to publicise suitably in advance when supplies will be cut off and works will take place.
  • There has been lack of engagement about Picardy Place, included lack of understanding that Picardy Place is not just the central island, including such lack at a recent Neighbourhood partnership meeting. For example, there is no information about the Paolozzi statues, or what is to happen just outside the cathedral.
  • There is also concern over poor street-lighting in the area.
    • Cllr Mowat noted that there is a programme of light-improvements (changing to LEDs). Action: she will send on information as to when this area’s lights will be improved.
    • She suggested raising the issue via community planning, rather than Neighbourhood Networks

10 Any other business

  • The vicechair of Drummond School’s parent council asked whether she could help with engagement between NTBCC and young people. Action: R Price to follow this up
  • She and other residents are working on short-term lets. Action: B Ryan to circulate the information she emailed.
  • C Nimmo circulated hard copies of a report by the Cockburn Association. She suggested that NTBCC adds to this report.
    • M Duffy noted that there are other organisations working on such topics.

11 Appendix 1: licencing monthly report

There is one application that concerns me this month, which is to include the basement area of 43b Frederick Street (Tiki bar, previously Lola Lo) in the licensing footprint. This effectively means that drinking outside would be permitted until the bar closes. It is likely that the Board will clarify that the 10pm limit would still apply, but I will write to the Board to object to this variation in case they don't notice.

Last month the Board did not uphold our objection to removal of the inaudibility condition for 167 Rose Street. None of us were able to attend the meeting, and I think this might be part of the reason for their decision. However, I will request a ‘statement of reasons’ to see what justification they gave, given there are 2 flats immediately above these premises.

As for the Crowne Plaza (Royal Terrace), the Board went further than I had hoped in restricting their activities. I suspect because of strong local objection, and residents' attendance at the Board meeting. The Board agreed with our request to restrict outdoor drinking to 10pm and not to increase the capacity of the premises, but they also refused the 2 hour extra usually granted over the Festival and Xmas period. However, the Crowne Plaza can still apply each festival and each Xmas for the extension, and I would be surprised if it's refused unless residents remember to object every time it is requested.

12 Appendix 2: planning monthly report

12.1 Pre-Planning

12.1.1 RBS site (Dundas St. / Fettes Row)

We understand that that following the offer of the whole site for sale (& the creation of the ‘New Town North’ website), the sale of the site is close to be concluded. Further, we understand that the successful bidder is Ediston Group as reported by the Costar website which states ‘Ediston Group and Orion Land are set to buy one of the largest development sites sold in Edinburgh city centre, the New Town North plot, from owner and former occupier RBS’.

Although no formal contact has been made, we expect further news (including further public consultation) imminently.

12.1.2 Powderhall Development – Bowling Green area - Nursery / Inter-Generational Living

No further news on proposed development - although the demolition of the site is progressing with all structures now removed. We expect a further (final) consultation on this proposal (including an outline masterplan for the whole site) in the coming months – followed by a planning application later in the summer (consistent with having an operational nursery before Aug 2021 at the latest).

12.1.3 Waverley ‘Masterplan’

Network Rail & Arup (consulting partner) agreed to a further presentation of their proposals to both NTBCC and the OTCC in April (immediately prior to the formal CEC consultation closing). Several New Town & Broughton residents attended both the presentation and the subsequent walk-through of Waverley station.

12.2 Current Applications Under Assessment

12.2.1 7 - 8 Baxter's Place

Following the withdrawal of the DPEA appeal against CEC’s refusal for Change of Use to Class 7 (Hostels etc.), Cornerstone Properties (the applicant) had then appealed the CEC Enforcement Notice served after CEC refused change of use. NTBCC and local residents attended the Reporter’s site visit & the Reporter has dismissed the appeal as well as the request by the applicant for an award of expenses (against CEC) and finally, did not agree to an extension for compliance with the Enforcement Notice. Based on this – it appears that the unlawful use of these premises as Short Term Commercial Visitor’s Accommodation (SSCVA) has ceased (judging by the numerous negative comments from disappointed visitors who had booked the accommodation). Cornerstone had also opted to pursue a judicial appeal .

However, there are now 2 further applications:

  • Firstly, a certificate for lawful use (/CLP) for one of the 7 flats (8 f1) in the tenement building (19/00932/CLP for Use of an existing residential property for short stay commercial visitor letting, by people living together as a family’. Although there have been 2 revised drawings submitted – the application is ‘Awaiting Assessment’.
  • Subsequent to this – 2 further applications lodged for conversion of the current premises (including 8 f1) to a 16 rooms hotel (or 13 rooms if the above /CLP application is approved and acted upon) complete with a breakfasting area and 24 hour “on-site management service” located in a small back office. 23 objections & ‘Awaiting Assessment’.
  • NTBCC’s initial view was that the reduced intensity of use is welcomed (if the intent of the applicant is genuine in terms of a more standard room occupancy) but as concerns remain regarding the real intent of the current owner, NTBCC have objected again.
  • 2 further applications (shown as 5 Baxter’s Place but unclear as to the correct address): 19/01703/FUL & 19/01700/LBC for ‘Internal alteration to convert existing outhouse to studio garden flat, including small extension’ – intending to build out at basement level (from a current windowless room) into the rear garden area – has been withdrawn.

12.2.2 (Ex) Public Convenience at Canonmills (by the Water of Leith)

Application 19/00430/FUL to re-develop the (small) building a ‘craft pizzeria’. NTBCC broadly supportive of proposed change of use but with some reservations as to the style/form of the proposed building, but did not submit a representation. 2 comments lodged: 1 objection & a neutral position by AHSS.

Currently being assessed with discussions on flood prevention compliance (existing ground level is below the latest SEPA specified height for development) & impact on trees surrounding the existing building.

Interestingly, the development at 1 – 6 Canonmills (the steelwork for which is at 1stfloor level) would not comply with the revised SEPA guidance.

12.2.3 Botanic Gardens Biome Project

As communicated previously to NTBCC members.

Although the site is well outside the NTBCC area - many NTBCC residents will be visitors / users of the Botanics. The proposals under the planning application are extensive and long term (£70M and 7 years) & whilst they will undoubtedly improve the experience for residents and visitors alike, there clearly is a significant commercial aspect to the proposals.

These wider proposals also require significant tree removal (48 trees, 2/3rds of which are Cat A, B & C) as well as relocation of a further 17 trees. However, all tree works will be managed by RGBE & they will also plant 50 new trees of a species / in a location determined by RGBE.

S&ICC as well as the Inverleith Society have objected to various aspects of the proposal along with many adjacent residents but The Cockburn has supported.

Following discussion at April’s NTBCC, there was little support for submitting a representation.

One of the proposals included raised significant concerns at the recent Edinburgh Civic Forum regarding the suggestion that as well as advice on the proposal being given, the Planning officer would also provide an initial opinion on whether permission would be granted.

12.3 Current Applications Open for Comments

To be added

12.4 1.1 Decisions Issued

12.4.1 IMPACT Centre, St Andrew Square

NTBCC submitted a ‘neutral’ stance to the initial application and raised further questions on the amendments. NTBCC presented at the April DMC Hearing (along with EWH & The Cockburn) as well as residents from the St James Square tenement (& the Edinburgh St James developers). The application with amendments was approved but with 4 from within the DMC opposed (mainly the issue of service access (a missed opportunity?) and the impact on daylighting/sunlighting in the tenement & associated gardens.

NTBCC’s initial representation as well as that submitted following the amended scheme are viewable on the Council planning portal.

12.4.2 Johnnie Walker Experience (146 Princes St.)

NTBCC had previously attended a pre-application event (= information session) on the proposed Johnnie Walker Experience in the (ex) House of Fraser’s on Princes Street. Application submitted – (19/00574/FUL) - proposal is to develop all 7 floors – with retail (merchandise etc.) on ground floor, several floors for a ‘Visitor Experience’ and new roof-top terraces.

NTBCC broadly in support of the proposal but did not submit a representation.

However, only 8 comments lodged (with 7 in support including the West End BID). In addition, EWH & HES consulted but neither raised any concerns. Application approved – with some discussion as to conditioning the hours of operation but ultimately decided that this would best be assessed under the licensing regulations (which are expected soon).

12.5 Other News (Householder)

12.5.1 Fettes Row

NTBCC supported local residents in submitting a representation to a proposed rear extension. Application ‘Awaiting Decision’.

12.5.2 Bellevue Crescent (Garage off East Scotland Street Lane)

For Change of Use to Class 4 (Office) – to which NTBCC objected (with 6 other local residents), has been refused. It is likely that the final chapter in this saga may well be a final appeal to DPEA. We are also aware of an unsubstantiated report that there may be someone interested in purchasing the building & using it as intended (as a garage)! The application (as it had been refused by Delegated Authority) has now been appealed to the Local Review Body – set for Wednesday May 15th.

12.5.3 Proposed Extension / Alterations in Dublin Colonies

NTBCC were contacted regarding a recent application, requesting help / advice & the Planning Committee are looking at the details of the proposal. The architect of the original scheme (Richard Murphy) had already submitted an objection. NTBCC provided a summary of their opinion as to the inappropriate proposal for concerned residents.

NTBCC submitted an objection – total objections >21.

The applicant has withdrawn the application – but NTBCC unsure of the reasons behind that.

12.5.4 New Proposal for development in (Ex) Rear Garden Ground 13 Claremont Crescent

‘Erection of six one-bed apartments with associated pedestrian access, hard and soft landscaping, bicycle and bin storage’

New proposal for the disused car park; an earlier effort to erect 10 studio apartments was refused planning consent in late 2017. The current proposal is for a ‘two-storey building multi volume building with pitched roofs connected by a lower flat roofed section between them’.

NTBCC were contacted by adjacent residents for help and advice on this proposal. NTBCC have also requested to be a Statutory Consultee given the wider community concerns that this application may spawn further inappropriate and disparate development eastwards along Broughton Road.

The architect’s argue the proposal has reduced massing vs. the previous scheme and respects the setting of nearby listed buildings. NTBNCC submitted an objection. Application ‘Awaiting a Decision’.

13 Appendix 3: Environment monthly report

There's only one item to report this month - CEC's Waste & Street Cleansing forum will reconvene with a meeting on 20th May 1pm - 4pm at the City Chambers. NTBCC normally sends 1 or 2 representatives to this forum, would anyone like to volunteer?

Being a 3-hour meeting, there should be adequate opportunity to discuss many of the issues facing waste collections and street cleansing; please let the environment convenor know of any issues you would like NTBCC representatives to raise. If you email them to me in the next 2 days, I can ask for them to be included as agenda items.

14 Appendix 4: Transport monthly report

  1. Summertime streets plan due to T&E this month (May 16th). All Old Town.
  2. North Edinburgh parking review due in August - I have asked Ewan Kennedy what consultation there will be, reply awaited.
  3. March T&E saw some changes in plans for EVs. Plan now is to charge by minutes not KWh and gave differential rate for taxis. Two hubs planned initially in our area – India St (4 bays, taxis and general); Heriot Row, 7 bays (residents). Consultation promised.

Trying to contact transport officials to express our views on London St crossing

[1] Except one that enables police to move on, or confiscate alcohol from, people who are drinking in public and refuse to stop.