Take Away’s from NTBCC’s February Meeting by Laura Graham

Our second meeting of 2021 took place on a snowy night that once again saw us gather by zoom.

Monthly meetings using zoom continue to be very well attended with the Eventbrite listings working effectively. Expertly set up by our Vice Chair, Richard Price, any members of the public registering late on the day of the meeting are caught with direct emails from the secretary. The increased attendance has been a silver lining in these dark, difficult times.

We are also very grateful for the regular and engaged attendance of councillors and for the expert hosting by our Chair Carol Nimmo (aka Britney) whilst thankfully not achieving the heady heights of viral infamy that some other (parish) councils have.

Cracking on with administrative requirements, the previous months minutes were passed, after minor corrections were noted and agreed. The police report was very helpful and thanks were extended to the officer who prepared it. Policing appears to have been quiet due to lockdown, with some vandalism to report but no housebreakings (everyone is at home!), business break-ins or assaults reported. Last month we asked for more information on reports of breaches of COVID regulations and are reassured to hear these are few and far between.

Deirdre Henderson commented on the review of the next stage of the short-term letting legislation development. The Local Government and Communities Committee have passed the proposed legislation over to the Scottish Parliament and there is to be a Scottish Government Working Group. Representatives have been invited from various sectors, and ‘big industry’ is very well represented however residents’ groups are not so well represented and have to go through their local council.

Concerns were expressed that there could potentially be a conflict of interest. It was agreed that we should have a follow up meeting for those members interested in this subject.

In response to an earlier iteration of concerns around the subject of Graffiti, Andi Christie, head of Drummond Community High School reported on a survey she had undertaken amongst the younger members of the community.  The general view is that most people do not like graffiti, however the idea of creating ‘legal wall space’, designated for Graffiti, enabling artistry as opposed to vandalism was considered to be a viable option

This was followed by an extensive discussion and report by the Convener of the Transport Committee, Mike Birch. The main issues at present concern London Road and Broughton Street and pending changes due to Spaces for People. Traffic Regulation Orders are also due to be issued for consultation however there has been a delay with this to allow for separate consultations.

Tram works continue to be an area of significant interest. Plans and applications are scrutinised as far as possible, however an ongoing issue is being giving notice of issues in sufficient time to consider matters arising.

Moving on to Planning, Richard Price, Convener of the Planning Committee led the discussions. The main areas continue to relate to Dundas Street and the developments at Centrum House 108-114 &116 Dundas Street – where the general view is ‘too much on too small a site’, so we have lodged a formal objection; as well as the former RBS site, also on Dundas Street and the impact of the same development where it backs on to King George V Park.

What is to happen to the park is clearly emotive. Resident’s groups feel they are not being given adequate time to put their concerns across. Drummond Civic Association haven’t even been asked for their views. It was also mentioned that many residents are unaware of the real implications of the changes intended for the park.

As there continues to be very grave concern of the impact of these proposed very tall buildings on the park, resultant loss of amenity and impact on the treeline, with the planning officers draft report available on the Council’s planning portal on Wednesday or Thursday this week (11th or 12th February), it was mooted that the local interest groups, residents’ associations and NTBCC should have a discussion to ensure all bases are covered, so that there is a concise, clear approach at the Council’s Development Management Sub Committee (DMSC) when it meets on 17th February.. This approach is essential given that each will have only five minutes to put their points across.

It is also important to note that concerns have been expressed by members that Councillors should be available to put across the point of view of residents but resident’s associations are reportedly having some difficulty getting responses from some Councillors.

However Cllrs Mowat, Osler and Mitchell, who were in attendance at this meeting and who sit on the DMSC, all assured concerned residents that in fact presentations from those most directly affected were usually highly effective and well regarded.

There was also broad agreement to support the hotel proposal at 12 – 14 Picardy Place.

The Agenda items moved on to Environment with an extensive report from the convener Peter Williamson. There was a lot to cover and little time left, however those community council members who worked on Public Space Management Plan (PSMP) will be absorbed into the environment committees work, and various action plans for the city will be reviewed namely ‘Edinburgh Million Tree City”, ’Thriving Green Spaces Project’ where the idea is to create a new vision for the green spaces of the city, together with discussions on the CEC strategy for Princes Street and the Waverley Valley. The upshot is that we would like to see a more holistic approach to place making.

The Chair thanked all involved in the preparation of the report on PSMP, with special and much deserved thanks to Stephen Hajducki and Simon Holledge for their sterling efforts. The report produced is excellent and has been submitted as part of the recent PSMP consultation.

The meeting drew to a close with confirmation that the new notices for the monthly meetings have been put up across the area, and in addition to our Eventbrite listing, web page and emails, we will register with Nextdoor, an app that ‘connects neighbours to each other- and to everything nearby ’ to announce future monthly meetings.

Looking forward to the next NTBCC meeting on Monday March 8th .