Minutes of the ordinary meeting of Leith Central Community Council, held in Nelson Hall, McDonald Road library on Monday 19 March 2018 at 7:00pm
Actions and decisions are red italic underlined. nem con means that no-one spoke or voted against a decision.
1 Attendance, apologies, declarations of interest
|Jack Caldwell||LCCC||Nick Gardner||Friends of Pilrig Park, Friends of Montgomery St Park|
|Jeremy Darot||LCCC||Cllr Marion Donaldson||Leith Walk ward (Labour)|
|Alan Dudley||LCCC||Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan||Leith Walk ward (SNP)|
|Andrew Harlick||LCCC||Cllr Susan Rae||Leith Walk ward (Scottish Green)|
|Sheila Kennedy||LCCC secretary||Ben Macpherson MSP||Edinburgh Northern & Leith (SNP)|
|Lorraine Moore||LCCC treasurer||Ella Taylor Smith||Broughton Spurtle|
|Damian Sefton||LCCC||Sgt Niven Bull||Police Scotland|
|Julian Siann||LCCC||PC Callum Clark||Police Scotland|
|Harald Tobermann||LCCC vicechair||51 residents and visitors signed the attendance sheet.|
|Bruce Ryan||minutes sec’y||(The minutes secretary counted around 70 attendees, not including LCCC members)|
|Katherine Chisholm||LCCC||John Hein||LCCC|
|Roberto Colasuonno||LCCC||Iona McLeod||LCCC|
|Charlotte Encombe||LCCC chair||Deidre Brock MP||Edinburgh North & Leith (SNP)|
1.c Declarations of interest
2 Approval of Minutes of 19 February 2018 meeting
Approved subject to correcting the date in the heading (proposed D Sefton, seconded S Kennedy, nem con)
3 Matters arising from previous minutes and not included in agenda
None (all matters already dealt with, or covered below)
4 Community Police Officer’s report
PC Clark and Sgt Bull reported
- Operation Contrition (January to February, in the Leith area) recovered £73,000 drugs, £30,000 cash, 1 stun-gun and 2 CS sprays. 55 arrests were made. The CPOs are grateful to the community for providing information leading to this.
- There will be a Community Alcohol Partnership week of action, starting 2 April. This will involve retailers, CEC, youth groups, and will target antisocial behaviour and underage drinking, by visiting licensed premises and conducting patrols.
- Dalmeny fun day will be at Dalmeny St Park on 31 March (10:30 to 2:30). See LCCC website for details.
- Extra visible patrols have significantly reduced complaints about drug activity in Montgomery St and Brunswick St area.
- Disorder in Leith Walk area has been tackled with extra patrols and engagement crime.
- There has been a joint operation with CEC about taxis. The majority were found to be safe but some needed action.
- Nocturnal break-ins to vulnerable businesses occurred on 16, 25 and 27 February. The CPOs recommended extra care, and taking advantage of their crime-prevention advice.
- A disturbance starting in Leith Walk and moving to Buchanan St resulted in 3 people being arrested.
- A person suspected of perpetrating a serious assault on 4 March is being sought.
- Another person is sought for a robbery on 4 March (around 7pm) from a business
- 3 people were arrested on 16 March for a break-in to a residential property in Cambridge Gardens
- 1 person was arrested – but another is still sought – for a break-in to Leith Walk primary school.
- CPO surgeries will be at Mcdonald Road library 11:00 to 12: 30 on 4 April and 25 April.
Action: the CPOs will follow up a resident’s report that many people break red lights on the pedestrian crossing near Manderson St.
5 Transport & clean streets
5.a Update on Leith Programme Phase 4 defects/remedial works
H Tobermann stated that promises to fix issues reported in February minutes (item 8c), e.g. damage to Iona St, have not yet been fulfilled, so he has written to CEC’s director of place.
5.a.i RNIB update
A Dudley reported that he has met with CEC, including going to Leith Walk. CEC is now convinced that (unspecified) changes are needed. If the trams go ahead, these will be made. Cllr Donaldson asked CEC to collate discussion and proposed actions.
5.b Consultation on tram extension
H Toberman noted that this consultation is now in progress – see CEC website for details of public information events. LCCC’s meeting on 16 April will include CEC’s presentation.
Actions: all LCCC members to attend public events, to prepare questions; LCCC to create a task-force to spearhead this
5.b.i Comments by LCCC members, residents and visitors
- D Sefton: hoped that CEC will act upon input, thus potentially saving time and money (cf item 5 a i)
- Cllr Rae: has met trams people who seem to have reacted [positively] to some of her input
- B Ryan: why is the building phase due to take 3 years? (H Tobermann responded that this should be asked of the tram engineers)
- N Gardner: LCCC should push for benefits to business, if the trams go ahead. (H Tobermann responded [1) LCCC needs to get firm commitments to this; (2) based on bitter experience (e.g. the relatively small Leith programme phases), he doubts whether CEC can deliver on time and on budget.)
- H Tobermann: CEC must learn from the Hardie trams enquiry, and LCCC should keep up pressure for good governance. Projects of this scale are normally delivered by Transport Scotland – CEC may not have the necessary expertise
- Resident: had attended a Spokes presentation, at which it was stated that 3 lanes of Leith Walk would be closed during construction, and that a ‘horrendous’ clash with the proposed Steads Place project (item 6 a below) is quite possible. Similar issues are likely on Constitution St, especially with Cala’s plans to build in Ocean Terminal. (H Tobermann responded that the tram route is set by legislation, and that the extension is needed for the tram system to be profitable – hence CEC is stuck with this route)
- Same resident: had asked whether the plans would be cancelled if there was huge opposition from Leithers. The implied answer was ‘no’.
- Another resident: Many businesses will be vulnerable, so are thinking of relocating. H Tobermann asked for LCCC members, residents and visitors to join a taskforce to spearhead LCCC’s work on this issue.
LCCC’s comms group to help build momentum for this work
5.b.ii Survey results Public Attitudes to Tram Line Extension through Leith.
This was noted.
5.b.iii Date and arrangements for presentation on tram extension
LCCC to form its opinion after the public sessions and presentation in April, considering (inter alia) costs and benefits
5.c Parking Working Group update
- S Kennedy reported that the online parking petition has received 311 signatures, and that the group will push for more.
- A resident noted that there are several cars that appear to have been abandoned. S Kennedy responded that if the cars have current MOT certificates (this can be checked on the DVLA website), then they cannot be moved by others.
5.d Impact of recent inclement weather on LCCC area
- L Moore saw gritters working on Leith Walk, but it was suggested that these moved the snow so it blocked footpaths.
- H Tobermann noted that Sweden’s policy is to clear pavements first, then roads, and that refuse collection was halted. In his experience of much colder countries that have more snow, life there is not halted by this sort of weather.
6.a Date and arrangements for presentation to LCCC on 18/01015/PAN: 156 to 162 Leith Walk by Drum (Steads Place) Ltd.
H Tobermann reported
- Drum wishes to present to LCCC on 21 May. Drum have already booked public exhibition dates at Out of the Blue on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 March.
- Drum’s plans are summarised as on CEC planning portal as ‘Demolition of existing buildings and erection of a mixed use development including affordable housing (flats), post graduate student accommodation, hotel (Class 7), restaurant (Class 3), space for potential community (Class 10 & 11), retail (Class 1), public house or commercial uses (Class 2 & 4). Includes associated infrastructure, landscaping and car parking.’
- LCCC’s role: large developments must consult with CCs and the wider community, and either take these into account in the actual planning application or explain why this has not been done. This is likely to take until at least summer 2018.
- If there was a planning agreement with CEC, it would contain CEC’s requirements. However, LCCC is not aware that such an agreement exists.
- Drum wishes liaison with Edinburgh University, whose students may be tenants. LCCC could influence matters this way.
- In any case, the CC and community should politely but forcefully promote other ideas to influence matters. This work should include creation of a wish-list and a a task-force. (See items 6 a iii and iv below.)
6.a.i Comments by LCCC members
J Siann The frontage has been in a conservation area since 1999. So the proposals would require relevant legal permissions. People who oppose the proposed development should all submit objections to CEC. However, the current proposals only concern the area that would be involved – details will be in the actual application
B Macpherson MSP Many constituents and local businesses have expressed concern over these proposals. has had a ‘fairly robust’ meeting with the developers. He he will make sure that his and others’ concerns are taken forward. The proposed anchor tenant is Edinburgh University – he has raised his concerns with them. Drum proposes 5 storeys, to maximise its revenue – this would be ‘completely out of kilter’ with this part of Leith Walk. His office is looking into the conservation aspect. He also commends going to the exhibition to demonstrate public concern, and co-ordinated campaigning based on ‘secure planning grounds’.
Cllr Rae She was informed by developers that the ratio of affordable housing to PhD student accommodation would be 57:500, plus a hotel specifically for students’ families. She notes that the sandstone frontage is not listed, and that its complete removal is proposed. She suggested incorporating it into the development, and asked about social capital deriving from the project, given that local young people are finding it hard to find housing in the area. She has spoken today with CEC planning – it will take at least 3 months for a planning application to be submitted. This would be to point to push for an enquiry. She reiterated that opposition must be based on planning grounds. She also was informed that plant (during construction?) would be just off Leith Walk, thus blocking the area just before the Foot of the Walk junction.
Cllr McNeese-Mechan reiterated getting information from CEC’s planning portal once the application has been submitted.
N Gardner Concepts often change for such big sites, so the community can affect matters. It should be possible to keep the façade because of the size of this site.
J Caldwell This area is very densely populated, so many concerns are about the proposed increased volume of housing. This would be one ground for objecting to the proposals. LCCC should minute the huge concern shown by the numbers attending this meeting. (See numbers in item 1a above.)
6.a.ii Questions and comments by residents and visitors
- What can the community do have its views recorded during the pre-application consultation?
- HT responded that legislation doesn’t specify this. However, LCCC minutes meetings with developers, asking them to state in writing what they take from such meetings. LCCC then advises whether developers’ ideas are correct.
- Hence the exhibitions are dry-runs for seeing whether and how community input is recorded.
- Another resident suggested emailing concerns, so there is a record of these.
- Can the community meet with CEC planners?
- HT, N Gardner and Cllr McNeese Mechan responded that this can be done, but it time consuming. Planning officers cannot attend CC meetings, but CEC councillors can speak with planning officials. CEC councillors who are on CEC’s planning committee cannot comment on applications before relevant planning committee meetings – hence Cllr M-M cannot comment just now.
- How can the community pressure Edinburgh University? (HT responded that LCCC is unlikely to be able to do this – but individuals can during planning meetings which are public.)
- For many, ‘affordable’ (around 20% less than the market rate) is not affordable, so social housing should be the aim.
- HT responded that CEC has no powers over what happens on privately-owned land, except that it can create local development plans stipulating the uses of various areas.
- Conservation status only means that the developers need a separate permit to demolish because it will impact on the area– but this is another potential route for objections. A resident suggested this would be an effective way of delaying matters, and thus changing developers’ plans.
- A resident has tried to obtain a listed consent application, but this was declined this afternoon because the area is part of a current planning application.
- Another resident was disappointed that that no action can be taken now, and feared that will would soon dissipate.
- Does CEC planning committee take into account social impacts, e.g. local shop-keepers being moved on?
- How much student accommodation is actually needed in Edinburgh – is there no upper limit or joined-up thinking?
- HT responded that LCCC’s policy is to automatically object to new student accommodation in its area.
- Cllr M-M stated that Edinburgh universities are growing at 6% per year – most of this is from far-eastern students.
- B Macpherson MSP is meeting the Edinburgh students’ association next week.
- Another resident suggested that such students are ‘cash-cows’, who will end up in expensive accommodation, and that CEC should revisit its policy on student numbers and accommodation.
- This resident also suggested that gentrification contributes to disconnection between planning and the community, so concerned attendees to organise to engage with developers and set agendas.
- HT recommended that concerned attendees should start organising just now, but out of LCCC’s meeting.
6.a.iii Wish list: The following points were suggested by the meeting
- Not just ‘affordable’ accommodation but accommodation for workers who are vital to Edinburgh, e.g. NHS workers
- Developer-contribution to associated infrastructure, e.g. cycle-bridge
- Maintenance and retention of the mix of shops, cafes and restaurants that was typical of Leith Walk and is still typical of this area, i.e. maintaining, renovating and/or replacing existing small, affordable retail units
- Improved access, possibly including a pedestrian/cycle route, to Pilrig Park
- Minimising parking : shared car-club places and, if possible, legal prevention of residents bringing cars to the area
- Reduced height/massing, to prevent this narrow part of Leith Walk not having enough light. (It was suggested restricting the development’s size may make it uneconomic, and so prevent it from proceeding. It was also suggested that there is a difference between privately-owned and CEC-owned land, so pressure via CEC would be a good tactic.)
- Retention of more than just the façade – perhaps all of the the existing building
- Architecture that befits Edinburgh, not faceless bland boxes.
6.a.iv Task-force: HT asked for volunteers from LCC and residents/visitors to spearhead action on this matter.
6.b LCCC planning subcommittee: status of current planning applications March 2018
J Siann & H Tobermann spoke about 144 Pitt Street, EH6 4DD. This proposed development is in a dilapidated corner of an area that was industrial but is becoming residential. The application proposes demolishing the existing building and erection of a five-storey building containing 8 small flats. It was suggested that this would be over-development of a small site, out of character, and that lower flats would have too little light. Also balconies might overhang airspace, potentially leading to legal issues. Action: LCCC planning sub-committee to submit objection on these grounds.
6.c Finalised LCCC response to CEC consultation on developer contribution This was noted.
6.d LCCC’s query to CEC Chief Executiveregarding 154 McDonald Rd
H Tobermann noted that this is the former Broughton secondary school. LCCC had objected to the planned development because of, e.g. parking issues, type of accommodation (promises of accommodation for key workers had been broken in favour of luxury temporary accommodation). HT raised this with CEC’s chief executive because this development was relevant to several CEC departments. Action: HT to raise this matter with the SG reporter and/or chief planner.
6.e Other planning matters None
7 Parks & Green Spaces
7.a Friends of Pilrig Park report
FoPP has applied for Leith Chooses funding for a lantern parade. FoPP’s spring clear-up was postponed due to bad weather. Its next public meeting is on 23 April at 6pm.
7.b Update on other Friends groups
See post on LCCC website: https://leithcentralcc.co.uk/2018/03/19/dalmeny-street-park-easter-community-fun-day
7.c Update on plans for defunct Powderhall rail line
Cllr McNeese-Mechan reported that there have been conversations between CEC and Network Rail, who appear to have not responded substantively. She noted that the NE locality meeting will cover this matter on 26 April. Houses at Blandfield are suffering from the collapse of a boundary wall – repairs need access to Network Rail land, which appears to not be forthcoming. JS suggested that because the site is likely to be polluted, a public environmental report is needed. HT noted that the line is not currently being used to transport materials to CEC’s Powerhall site, so the relevant contract needs to be examined – are there options for cancelling it?
8 LCCC Office Bearers’ Reports
8.a LCCC’s Communications Group’s activities and plans
J Caldwell reported the leaflets about the petition (item 5 c above) were successfully distributed. The group has promoted the park feasibility study, hopefully to be funded by Leith Chooses. He will report on work towards GDPR compliance in the April meeting.; He regularly monitors LCCC’s Facebook presence. Use of QR codes has been beneficial.
8.b Treasurer’s report and draft FY18/19 budget proposals
Current balance £2546·74, but payment for advertising in the Spurtle is due.
Budget proposals held over until April
8.c Other office bearers’ reports
8.c.i Update on NE Locality Committee and LCCC representation
Cllr McNeese-Mechan is now vice-convenor of NE locality committee. She and the convenor (Cllr M Child) are very keen to involve CCs, so are happy to be flexible about meeting dates and times, and to include live-questioning via Twitter, email, text. They are also considering themed meetings, e.g. a whole meeting covering health and equality matters.
8.c.ii Update on Leith Neighbourhood Partnership
The next LNP meeting is on 29 March.
8.c.iii Update on Leith Chooses
Cllr Donaldson reported that results are due on Wednesday. LC has been a good example of partnership working, generating much goodwill. LCCC minutes its thanks to volunteers and CEC cllrs for their work on the process.
8.c.iv Secretary’s report
- CEC is proposing an order to create car club parking places at Bonnington Road Lane and Wellington Place.
- There is consultation on licensing procedure, closing on 6 June. Action: S Kennedy to speak to this in April.
- CEC has signed a 3-year contract to introduce drums to display posters. The organisation wishes to meet with LCCC. Action: S Kennedy to investigate for next meeting.
8.d AGM arrangements
Held over to April meeting
8.e Status of Cllr Ritchie at LCCC meetings
- H Tobermann noted that Cllr Ritchie has resigned from the SNP; he is now an independent cllr. While he is still a cllr, he is an ex-officio member of LCCC. However, in the wake of unpleasant allegations about him in the media and SNP disciplinary procedures, there have have been concerns about his status at LCCC.
- L Moore questioned whether Cllr Ritchie is representing anybody at the moment.
- B Ryan noted that CC meetings are public, so Cllr Ritchie cannot be excluded.
- H Tobermann reported that special security measures were adopted at the recent Edinburgh Council meeting when Cllr Ritchie attended for the first time in six months.
- Cllr McNeese-Mechan suggested that there is no practical issue at LCCC meetings, because Cllr Ritchie rarely attends CC meetings. She quoted a remark he made to her after the May 2017 Council election that he ‘would not be attending any more community council meetings because the next election wasn’t for 5 years’.
Action: LCCC office-bearers to communicate LCCC’s position to cllr Ritchie.
9 Councillors’ reports, MSPs’ reports, MP’s report
9.a Cllr Donaldson
She has attended a conference about libraries and the community. Library hours will not be cut, due to extra CEC funding.
9.b Cllr Rae, Cllr McNeese-Mechan
Nothing to add to their input elsewhere in the meeting.
10 Open Forum (for residents of LCCC area only)
- A resident noted much new graffiti near the Foot of the Walk. S Kennedy noted that graffiti-cleaning kits were once issued for Leith Walk. A resident stated that he still had one.
- Another resident asked about over-full bins. S Kennedy suggested reported these via firstname.lastname@example.org.
11.a Piling and monitoring at Places for People’s site at Dryden Street
This report was noted.
11.b Consultation on Electoral Reform(closes on 29 Mar 2018)
Action: LCCC members and others to respond to this.
11.c Picardy Place and Beyond: Proposals (Provisional)
Action: LCCC members to read this.
12 AOCB (for LCCC members only)
J Caldwell asked whether co-option of a member of any activist group would impact LCCC’s impartiality. H Tobermann responded that LCCC has at least one vacancy for elected/co-opted members, and a number of places available to representatives of local groups. (These must be registered with CEC.)
13 Future meetings (usually 3rd Monday of the month) and topics/presentations