Reflections on the September NTBCC meeting from James Kilner – an NTBCC member

We are still stuck in Zoom for our Community Council meetings and it looks like we will exist in this ‘virtual reality world’ for some time. This is a shame as I miss the camaraderie of our meetings. It also makes it harder to gauge guests and to question them properly.

This month's meeting was a case in point. Ross McNulty from Ediston and Colin Smith from Turley joined our meeting to talk about their development of the former RBS site on the corner of Fettes Row and Dundas Street. It is a massive development which  is now passing through the planning application process. Covid-19, the lockdown and social distancing and rules about meeting in groups have made it far harder to get a handle on the project and what it all means.

For 15 or 20 minutes or so, Ross McNulty and Colin Smith had the floor, or at least the Zoom screen, and told us about their project. They didn't say anything new. A handful of questions came their way but these were also easily dealt with.

Mostly, the dry formality of this discussion had, I thought, been down to the online format but  Ross McNulty, a tough ex-pro rugby player, had also seemed grumpy. He had joined the meeting looking weary, (rattled even), pushing back on how the owners of the RBS site, a London-based  property fund, had been depicted in a community newsletter.  An hour before the meeting he had been sent, along with all the members of the Community Council, the newsletter of the Fettes Row and Royal Crescent Residents' Association. Its front page had highlighted developers' intention to chop down more than half of the trees on the site. It seems   that they want to turn the site from semi-rural to urban.

This segment on the development dominated the meeting and it took the tact and skill of Our Great Leader, Community Council Chair Carol Nimmo, to pull us back on schedule.

There was then some input from the Edinburgh City Councillors who are regular attendees  of the meeting including Cllr Jo Mowat on the important ‘Charter for Edinburgh’ issue  and some discussion about the ‘Spaces for People’ (SfP) programme. SfP is about creating extra space for people concerned about the spread of Covid-19, to reassure them that it is safe enough to use the pavements once again. Of all the ill-thought out Covid response programmes this is one of the stand-outs. You may have seen it in action. Red and white bollards block off parking spaces and bus lanes, congesting roads and irritating businesses. These spaces should now provide extra pavement space for people to walk along; improving social distancing…..except that I’m not sure that anybody uses them.

Anyhow, I digress.

Towards the end of the meeting, a question was raised  about how to deal with graffiti that had started to appear around the area. There is, apparently, a council anti-graffiti team that is meant to deal with the worst of this but this questioner wasn't having much luck so far.

I'd had had a quiet meeting but now sensed my opportunity to make a difference and, frankly, to impress, and so I explained to the graffiti-concerned person that growing up in London I'd defeated these louts by painting over their graffiti on a white wall opposite my home within a day of it appearing.  She should do the same, I suggested, content that my steer would improve her life.

And now Our Great Leader, who had Zoomed in from a hotel in the Highlands to keep us in line, was able to display her poise and timing once again. The technique that I'd suggested was, she said gently, less effective on the bare stone walls of the New Town. Always happy to defer to those wiser than me, I did so immediately.

Roll-on our next meeting on 12 October.

RBS Redevelopment – Response by Ediston to The Chronicle’s “Plans threaten our tree-scape”

The New Town & Broughton Community Council (NTBCC) wants to hear views from the community on the current planning applications that have been lodged for the former RBS site. The applications that are open for comment can be viewed on this NTBCC website post.

The community council is a statutory consultee on these applications and, as such, will submit a representation. NTBCC also have an extended deadline for submission of comments to these applications & it will be also be a key agenda item for our meeting on 12 October.

The views of the immediate residents on Fettes Row & Royal Crescent as well as those from the Friends of King George V & Scotland Yard Park (www.kgvsy.org.uk) were posted recently on NTBCC's website (Plans threaten our tree-scape)  included within The Chronicle’ newsletter which has been distributed to well over 1,000 households in the area.

We would also state that whilst NTBCC may share many of these concerns  - our position & response to these applications should reflect as far as we are able, views covering the wider community & relate to / be cognisant of relevant planning policies.

We have received a response from the developers (Ediston) which discusses many of the points raised. Click the graphic below so see the full PDF.

 

‘New Town Quarter’ – Redevelopment of the Former RBS Site on Dundas Street

As many will be aware, planning applications have been  submitted for redevelopment of the former RBS site on Dundas Street by the agent (Turley) & the architects '10 Design ' on behalf of Ediston – this includes 144’Build to Rent’ (BTR) residential units, 117 private residential units and 88 Mid-Market Rent (MMR) i.e. meeting the 25% ‘affordable units’ requirement  (=349 in total) together with office space,retail / leisure space & a 116 room hotel.

NTBCC is aware that there may be confusion amongst residents as to what applications have been submitted and which applications are open for comment at this time.

The main application covering the redevelopment is 20/03034/FUL but accompanied by an application for  the ‘Complete Demolition in a Conservation Area’ (20/03661/CON) i.e. separate permission is required to demolish non-listed buildings that are within a conservation area (in this case, the New Town Conservation Area). It’s normal for these 2 applications to be determined at the same time. Also worth noting that the original ‘Demolition in a Conservation Area’ application (20/03033/CON)  was withdrawn earlier in August 2020 but then resubmitted as 20/03661/CON.

It had also been rumoured that a 3rd application would be submitted specifically covering the access from the new development into King George V Park. Notification for this now received (20/03655/FUL) – this covers  ‘Formation of Path & Associated Landscaping’ – now with all documents lodged on the Council's Planning portal. It proposes removing 5 trees (2 diseased (classifised as “U” and 3 others (with a limited expected life - between 10 & 20 years) to allow a wide split entrance into King George V Park in the south-west corner, for pedestrians (via steps) & cyclists / ‘wheelers’ by a ramp.

So – to be clear – for the main redevelopment – there are 3 applications lodged : 20/03034/FUL (Redevelopment), 20/03661/CON (for the demolition)  and 20/03655/FUL (detailing the access into KGV Park) – all  with the final  date for comments being 9 October.

NTBCC requested confirmation that it will be considered as a Statutory Consultee & also requested an extension to the period for comments until 16 October – to allow final consideration at October’s NTBCC meeting (& also recognising that there are 400+ documents submitted…..).This has now been confirmed by the Council Planning officer.

As indicated some weeks ago & covered in the Spurtle ('No hotel for Dundas Street development' and confirmed at the September NTBCC meeting – a further application is also being submitted for an alternative option (labelled ‘NTN1’) on part of the New Town Quarter site (designated  as ‘Plot 1’, covering the northern-most section on Dundas Street - from the proposed new accessway from Dundas St. to KGV Park to Eyre Place - i.e the proposed location for the hotel in the scheme  currently open for comment - but omitting the hotel & replacing it with a further 79 residential units. This scheme is subject to a separate Pre-Application consultation (20/03825/PAN) – the consultation process has now been approved. There is a virtual public consultation scheduled for 8 October on the official website (& also separate session for NTBCC as well as local residents’ groups a few days earlier).

However, worth reinforcing that the focus should be on the 3 ‘live’ applications that have been lodged.

There will be an opportunity to comment on the revised scheme ('NTN1')  later in 2020.

 

Brief Highlights from NTBCC’s 10 August Zoom Meeting

A second, very successful, NTBCC meeting using the Zoom platform with members of the public both welcome and involved.  Despite some last minute technical issues (& inability by some NTBCC members to locate the Zoom link-in details!) – we were happy  to record 15 community councillors were present (virtually) – including one of our office bearers  from the back seat of a car many miles from Edinburgh.

Also we all appreciated attendance by 5 ward councillors - many thanks to Councillors Doran, Miller & Mowat from the City centre ward (almost a full house) and also Councillors Osler & Barrie from Inverleith Ward for joining us. Having Councillors present is really helpful in many of the discussions, both to understand current council thinking as well as being able to pick up issues.

As an aside – we also regularly extend an invitation to Leith Walk ward councillors as a significant part of NTBCC’s area lies within Leith Walk ward. They would be very welcome at future community council meetings.

Last, but by no means least, almost a dozen members of the public. And we mustn’t forget the roving Broughton Spurtle editor also joining us from afar.

We would also thank Police Scotland for providing an excellent summary of their activities in the city centre – unprompted by us – much appreciated. Key messages were a continued issue with cycle thefts (incl. Just Eat hire cycles), police checks for Covid-compliance on licensed premises, reported improvements in anti-social behaviour at Waverley Mall with the temporary village now set up and increased focus on speed checks across the city centre.

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NTBCC minutes – Monday 10 February 2020

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s business meeting, held in Drummond Room, Broughton St Mary’s church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 10 February 2020 at 7pm

Actions and decisions are red italic. ND (‘no dissent’) means that no-one spoke or voted against a decision. Continue reading

NTBCC minutes – Monday 16 December 2019

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s ordinary meeting, held in the Garden Room, Broughton St Mary’s church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 16 December 2019 at 7.30pm Continue reading