LCCC May 2020 minutes

Due to the limitations of online meetings, we are only recording those who were present at or sent apologies for such meetings.

This meeting was for members only, so any decision recorded below may not be binding. Similarly, the LCCC June meeting may not have been empowered to approve the minutes below.

Minutes of the ordinary meeting of Leith Central Community Council, held via Zoom on Monday 18 May 2020 at 7:00pm

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

1 Welcome, introductions, attendance, apologies

Name 2020 2021
May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr
Jack Caldwell Y no meeting
Alan Dudley Y
Charlotte Encombe Y
Pierre Forissier A
Nick Gardner Y
Fee Gerlach
John Hein Y
Sheila Kennedy Y
Ian Mowat Y
John Tibbitt Y
Harald Tobermann Y
John Wilkinson Y
Amy Woodgate Y
Bruce Ryan Y
Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan A
Cllr Rob Munn Y
Cllr Susan Rae A
Cllr Lewis Ritchie
Ben Macpherson MSP
Deidre Brock MP

Y = present; y = sent representative, A = not present, sent apology; * = not present, did not send apology

2 Minutes of April meeting

A draft had been circulated only to office-bearers on 2020_04_23 by J Caldwell – B Ryan was absent for personal reasons.

  • Action: minutes secretary to re-circulate them asap.
  • Action: LCCC members to read and approve asap.

3 Place Brief for the Leith Walk & Halmyre Street

See also appendix 1, points 1 and 2.

H Tobermann noted that CEC had extended the consultation on this brief.

  • This happened after LCCC’s April meeting after Cllr Munn noted it was on CEC’s Leadership Advisory Panel agenda.
  • HT had been concerned that, without input from CCs and the public, there would be nothing preventing developers having ‘free hands’ in this area.
  • LCCC comms publicised LCCC’s draft response, including an option for public comment on this draft.
  • J Caldwell and H Tobermann noted that so far LCCC had received only one such public comment. This person suggested: (1) LCCC adds comment on population-density and public transport, (2) LCCC omits comment on shops opposite this site; (3) LCCC comments on employment, rather than just community resources; (4) CEC firmly commits to an east-west cycle-link (5) that CCs do not have a mandate and do not consult effectively.
  • H Tobermann noted that LCCC often seriously considers these matters.
  • J Caldwell noted that the Spurtle had recently publicised LCCC’s draft response.
  • Action: LCCC comms to accelerate publicity of LCCC’s draft response and public-comment option
  • Action: other LCCC members to retweet LCCC tweets publicising the draft response and public-comment option
  • Action: LCCC planning group to finalise submission in the light of any further public responses to its draft.

There was discussion of the effectiveness of engagement via online and in-person/public meetings.

4 Conservation Area Extension (CAE) proposal status – for information

A Woodgate noted that two residents have submitted this proposal, to which some LCCC members had made small contributions, but that this is not an LCCC action. CEC is considering it as a contribution to the place brief.

5 Proposed response to pre-application notice (PAN) from Drum Group

See also appendix 1, points 1 and 3.

H Tobermann noted that Drum submitted this PAN just before lockdown started, and that the Scottish Government then legislated to allow online-only consultations.

  • Drum has now asked how it can best engage with LCCC, proposed online consultation, and stated that Drum has engaged with Save Leith Walk and ‘Our Leith Walk’ (community-buy-out group). HT suggested LCCC has 3 options:
    1. Respond that on-line consultations are not feasible, and ask Drum to do a normal consultation after lockdown ends.
    2. Just acknowledge that the new plans (including retention of the sandstone frontage) are better than previous plans.
    3. Take part in the proposed online consultation. (H Tobermann feared that this would be over-controlled by Drum.)

5.a Discussion on these options

  • C Encombe: Coronavirus/lockdown may have a major impact on the need for student housing
  • H Tobermann: modern student housing is designed to be useable as normal accommodation. Also this development will not be completed for several years, by which time lockdown should be over.
  • J Caldwell: LCCC had decided that online-only meetings and consultations are inappropriate. However, Is it worthwhile engaging with neighbouring CCs, in case Drum states that it has engaged successfully with LHNCC?
  • H Tobermann: this development is not in other CCs’ areas, so it would only have a minor role in this.
  • C Encombe: LHNCC and LLCC were involved in Save Leith Walk, so LCCC should find out their current thoughts.
  • N Gardner: Let’s get as much information from Drum as possible, and play for time, i.e. option 2. He is a member of Our Leith Walk (OLW). It appears that Drum is committed to developing this site, rather than selling it on.
  • H Tobermann: Is NG’s OLW membership a material interest/conflict of interest?
  • N Gardner: OLW is only interested in buying the sandstone buildings, and not in the rest of the site, except if plans would make these buildings unusable. There is no clarity on what types of housing are now proposed.
    • Action: N Gardner to check on OLW’s status as a company etc
  • H Tobermann: lack of detail is standard for PANs: developers just need to propose outline ideas on site-use.
  • C Encombe: LCCC should comment on proposed/possible heights of buildings
  • S Kennedy: if LCCC decides to delay, can the developers proceed without LCCC’s input?
  • H Tobermann: the developers would need CEC’s approval to do this. It would be on record that LCCC has not engaged for whatever reasons it states.
  • I Mowat: online consultations do not enable public examination of full-size ‘boards’ showing developers’ proposals.
  • B Ryan: Drum could spin options 1 and 2 as ‘LCCC has refused to engage’.
  • H Tobermann: LCCC’s position would clearly start at the start that it refuses to engage in improper manners.
  • HT: members can ensure that this point is made in draft text he could circulate.
  • I Mowat: lockdown will finish sooner or later, so it is possible to request a delayed proper/public consultation, rather than appear to simply refuse to engage.
  • Cllr Munn: There are 3 PAN applications on the next CEC development management subcommittee (DMSC) agenda. It is not yet clear whether this PAN will be on a future DMSC agenda. He would also strongly prefer public consultations.

5.b Vote

C Encombe proposed that LCCC should respond that it wants to engage, but will not do so until meaningful engagement can occur. (Such engagement may only be possible after lockdown ceases.)

  • Decision: members present unanimously supported this proposal
  • Action: H Tobermann to circulate a draft response; members to respond ASAP; HT to submit the final version

6 Plan for safer walking and cycling

H Tobermann noted that the Scottish Government has made available £10m for local authorities to develop and implement ‘pop-up’ proposals for ‘social distancing’ on pavements etc. Hence CEC’s policy and sustainability ctte has considered a long list of proposals, including temporary widening of some pavements and closing some bus-stops that block pavements. CEC is currently looking for further input on this. NB CEC will only get a fraction of the £10m.

I Mowat noted that CCs will be given 5 days to consider specific proposals in their areas. He suggested that the only significant proposals in LCCC’s areas are about Easter Road. However, LCCC’s area may be affected by, for example, the closure of Warriston Rd and a proposed bus-gate on North Bridge. Hence he proposed contacting NTBCC about this. He suggested that closing North Bridge would cut off LCCC’s area from the rest of Edinburgh.

  • During the trams discussion, Cllr Munn stated that the Warriston Road closure would be from the crematorium to the bridge. This stretch, in his observation, has quite a lot of pedestrian use on the way to St Mark’s park.

IM also noted that measures on Leith Walk have not been proposed, even though tram-work is paused. He suggested that all barriers to cycle-lanes etc are removed during this pause, and that LCCC should submit such proposals.

6.a Discussion

  • J Tibbitt: he has asked for comment from residents near him around Easter Rd, to no avail.
  • J Hein: removal/re-siting of bus-stops should only be done after full audits of implications for disabled people.
  • S Kennedy: it’s more difficult to widen Easter Rd’s bottom than its top. However, pavement ‘build-outs’ at the top of Easter Rd (where the shops are) could be joined to achieve wider pavements. This would not help cyclists. The advertised timescale means work would start in July.
  • H Tobermann: all proposals are to widen pavements for pedestrian physical distancing, not to enable pavement-cycling.
  • H Tobermann: removal of current works from North Bridge would be difficult because these currently prop up the bridge. Hence he favours bus-gates. Further, CEC’s share of the £10m would pay for very little. For example, the west Edinburgh to York Place cycle-route alone is set to cost £12m.
  • I Mowat: the current proposals will only involve cones and [temporary] barriers, so will be relatively cheap Hence many of the current proposals may be achieved.
  • S Kennedy: some of the proposals are in the active-travel programme (ATP), so might be more permanent. However, the Easter Road proposals are not in the ATP, and are temporary, so LCCC should only comment on these.
  • H Tobermann: CEC will only use temporary traffic regulation orders for the measures: they are designed to minimise risk of transmitting coronavirus, and hence will only use [temporary] barriers and cones.
  • J Hein: restrictions on Easter Rd traffic cannot co-exist with tram-works, because the works force traffic onto that road.
  • S Kennedy: filling in between build-outs would not impede Easter Rd traffic. Also local CEC councillors will be informed in advance of consultations. Hence Cllr Munn and colleagues can be an early-warning system for LCCC.
  • Cllr Munn: he is concerned with the amount of people currently out, and has made suggestions to protect pedestrians and cyclists on Leith Walk.
  • C Encombe: the tram team is working on physical distancing during continued works.
  • H Tobermann: the motion passed by CEC differs from the report it received. For example, the motion mandates consultation with CCs. Hence LCCC does not need to comment on Easter Road proposals just now.
  • I Mowat: further proposals can be emailed to Given that LCCC will not meet for another month, and that tram-works will not re-start for several months, LCCC should state now that enabling physical distancing and removing barriers on existing cycle-lanes on Leith Walk is highly desirable.
  • H Tobermann: the trams team is keen to restart work soon, so CEC would not favour such changes.
  • Action: Cllr Munn to give LCCC alerts on proposals as he receives them, including the Warriston Rd closure
  • Decision: LCCC to respond to the Easter Rd proposals when they become available.

7 Tram update

H Tobermann noted that

  • CCTT had met online with the trams team in late April, discussion focussing on resuming work soon. He suggested that CEC now cannot just order the contractors to implement coronavirus-induced pavement-widening, and that there would be argument over who pays for such measures.
  • I Mowat noted a newspaper report that work would only restart in November.
  • It was later noted that the minutes of this April meeting are not yet approved for pubslishing.
  • The trams team is very responsive to issues on Leith Walk, so actual issues will be dealt with rapidly.
  • The next meeting will cover coronavirus’ impacts on the overall delivery timetable. These are currently negligible.
  • The trams team intends to install a two-way cycle-land on the west side of Leith Walk, only for the duration of the tram-works. He has requested more detail on this. He suggested that that this would be inconvenient for pedestrians.
  • B Ryan and I Mowat strongly contested the sanity of a two-way lane, because downhill cyclists could easily hit their uphill peers. B Ryan stated that cycling, especially down-hill, should not be on pavements, to protect pedestrians.
  • Action: I Mowat to cycle Leith Walk, then notify H Tobermann of any issues he observes.

8 Library meeting room – update from chair

C Encombe noted that she has cancelled LCCC’s library-bookings for today and June, and informed the library of LCCC’s meeting dates for 2020-21. She has not yet received a response.

9 Office-bearer updates

9.a Vice-chair

H Tobermann noted that the Scottish Government has postponed legislation enabling local authorities (LAs) to introduce low-emissions zones, on the grounds that it would over-work LAs. He expressed strong regret about this.

HT expressed strong concern that the planning application for the Croall Place illuminated advertisement was approved by a CEC officer under CEC’s ‘emergency powers’, despite this sign having been operated illegally for several months.

  • S Kennedy suggested monitoring whether the advertisement was only illuminated during its permitted hours.
  • It was noted that LCCC had submitted an objection but had not done more because other matters took precedence.

9.b Treasurer

I Mowat noted that LCCC’s accounts are very nearly finalised. To be completely sure of LCCC’s liabilities, he needs documentation about what LCCC owes CEC for hire of the library. Action: C Encombe to send him relevant emails

A Woodgate suggested that there should be at least a month’s notice of the AGM, to maximise publicity and attendance.

It was noted that I Mowat has had difficulty accessing his LCCC email account. Action: J Caldwell to sort this.

It was noted that B Ryan currently pays (and is reimbursed for) LCCC’s website costs, but that it would be better for LCCC to pay directly.

9.c Engagement officer

It was noted that A Woodgate does not have an LCCC email address for this role. Action: J Caldwell to sort this.

10 AOB

10.a City Plan 2030 and City Mobility plan: LCCC’s submissions

It was noted that there had not been time to ratify these before submitting them. Hence the points in appendix 2.

10.b Date of next meeting

15 June 2020

Action: A Woodgate to set up Zoom meeting

Appendix 1: points for planning update by H Tobermann

  • Scottish Parliament passed State of Emergency legislation, which (despite letters of protest to opposition MSPs) – theoretically – allows ‘online’ consultations to go ahead during ‘lockdown’.
  • Place Brief for the Leith Walk & Halmyre Street: as the statutory consultation has been extended (at our request) to 1 June, I propose we publicise widely our response to the informal consultation asking local people to let us have comments before we submit it later this month (perhaps with a suitable reference to the proposal to extend the Conservation Area) – ACTION now on website
  • 20/01447/PAN | Proposed Demolition of Industrial Units… | 106 – 162 Leith Walk Edinburgh EH6 5DX: this is a new attempt by Drum Group which arrived during the ‘lockdown’, and proposes to consult ‘online’. ACTION to discuss position
  • 20/00972/FUL | Demolition of the existing warehouse and ancillary office building and construction of residential (flatted) development including purpose-built student accommodation… | 48 – 50 Iona Street Edinburgh EH6 8SW: submitted objection along the lines of our response to the earlier PAC and input from Save Iona Street 2019 group.
  • Discussions between Community Council together on Trams and the Tram Team have continued with the main focus on keeping the mothballed works safe and looking ahead to what needs doing once the works restart.


Appendix 2: points for next public LCCC:

City Mobility Plan: submitted LCCC response to CEC’s CMP consultation; to be ratified at next properly convened LCCC meeting.