Leith Programme Stakeholder Update 100: Phase 4 (Pilrig Street to McDonald Road) weekly lookahead

(adapted from an email sent by Michael Motion, Senior Project Manager, Turner & Townsend on 23 June 2017 at 22:45)

Weekly lookahead (w/c 26th June 2017)

Please see below details of works to be undertaken during the course of next week, and the associated worksite locations during the course of next week:

  • Complete grouting to the slabbed paving at the Library corner and open up areas to pedestrians where safe to do so
  • Commence paving to the N/W corner of Croall Place (West side of Leith Walk)
  • Commence paving to Brunswick Street footpath at the junction with Leith Walk
  • Continue paving to the east side of Leith Walk
  • Kerb realignment, and commence kerb laying at Brunswick Street junction
  • Continue works to the road crossings at McDonald Road junction, excavating the tracks and installing ducts

165 Leith Walk – Former Tram Depot Demolition

The former tram depot, located at 165 Leith Walk, is due for demolition: further communication will follow regarding the programme for these works in the coming weeks. The area will be cleared and a creative workspaces project will occupy part of this site.

The smaller building at the front of the former depot (165a Leith Walk) will be retained and refurbished to create a pilot partnership hub delivering local services.  The project is a collaboration between site owners, The City of Edinburgh Council and local arts trust, Out of the Blue.

The project team intends to hold a drop-in community event on 28th June, between 4.30pm – 7.00pm, in the McDonald Road Library.  At this event, there will be an opportunity to find out more about these proposals and to ask any questions.

Should you have any queries or concerns with regards to the above, please do not hesitate to contact me direct either at this Email or at leith.programme@edinburgh.gov.uk

Kind regards

Michael Motion
Senior Project Manager, Infrastructure, Turner & Townsend

Leith Central Community Council: ‘shocked by new hold up to long-overdue Leith Walk repair works’

Statement for immediate release

The email announcing that the contractor for the current phase of the Leith Walk repair works (Iona Street to Brunswick Street) has gone into administration came yesterday late afternoon.

There have been indications for a while that work had slowed down, but this latest development has come as a complete shock. We are seeking urgent clarification on how this will impact on the current work sites in various states of completion south of Pilrig Street and the Iona Street compound, and – most importantly – on the overall progress of getting the Leith Walk works completed all the way to Picardy Place roundabout.

We understand that prior to the contract being awarded comprehensive assessments of the contractor’s financial stability were obtained by the Council. This being so, this would be the first time in the 10 year saga of Leith Walk on/off repairs that the Council does not have to shoulder the blame for the delays and costs that no doubt will come in the wake of this latest development.

Whether there will be further reputational damage will depend entirely on how quickly this situation is recovered, and the relevant clauses in the contract:

  • Is there a sufficiently sized performance bond in place, shielding the project from any financial fallout?
  • Is the works documentation up to date, to allow work to be picked up smoothly by replacement contractors?
  • If the works do not continue in the immediate future with a new contractor and complete before the summer break as planned, will residents and businesses be compensated?
  • Will the various work sites be supervised and protected adequately in the meantime?
  • Will the snagging of the completed works around Pilrig Street be addressed promptly to restore confidence?

It has been said that one should ‘never let a crisis go to waste’. Is this the wake up call that was needed to make the reinstatement of one of Edinburgh’s top three streets a top Council priority?

– ends –

Leith Programme Stakeholder Update 96: Phase 4 (Pilrig Street to McDonald Road) Land Engineering Administration

(adapted from an email from Michael Motion, Senior Project Manager, Turner & Townsend, time-stamped 2017_06_01 at 16:19. Leith Central CC is not responsible for any issues caused by the contents of this post, but will endeavour to publish any further relevant information it receives as soon as possible.)

Dear Stakeholder

We have been formally notified today that the contractor responsible for the works currently underway on Leith Walk, Land Engineering, has been put into administration.

Having carried out a comprehensive assessment of the company’s financial stability prior to signing the contract, which did not highlight any concerns, this is unexpected and particularly disappointing.  As part of any assessment the Council seeks a third party credit agency opinion of the risk of business failure, and in relation to Land Engineering the third party opinion did not raise any issues.

We appreciate how frustrating this will be for businesses and residents.

We are currently in communication with the administrator and we are evaluating options to mitigate the impact and ensure the works, which to date have been running on time and to budget, are completed as soon as possible.

I am also aware that Land Engineering had recently issued a communication indicating that Brunswick Street would close on Monday 5 June to accommodate works to that junction.  As a result of the above, this closure will not go ahead on Monday, and we will be in touch in due course with a revised closure date to complete the works at Brunswick Street.

Further updates will be issued as more information specific to completion of the works becomes available.

Kind regards

Michael Motion
Senior Project Manager, Infrastructure
Turner & Townsend

Leith Central Community Council: views on the future of the Scottish Planning System

This was submitted by Harald Tobermann, LCCC Vice Char and spokesman on planning, in April 2017.

  1. There is widespread dissatisfaction about appeal decisions made by DPEA. Likely reasons are
    1. lack of DPEA visibility (perceived as ‘remote’);
    2. inadequate space for third parties during appeals. In addition, planning councillors are sometimes shying away from “political” decision because of exaggerated fear of an appeal.
      This can be remedied by better resourcing of the DPEA (for publicity and education) and under certain circumstances for third party participation in appeals.
  2. Planning fees are far too low to cover real costs of processing (incl defending appeals and enforcement). Fee caps for large applications are absurd: if there are demonstrably planning efficiencies of scale (where is the research?), fees could be tapered. But not capped. Arguments that this hinders development can be easily set aside: as long the fees go into resources, applications will also be processed at a speed more likely to encourage development. We would also suggest that fees should be set locally, not nationally.
  3. Much higher emphasis needs to be placed on design quality and build quality, as well as a systematic assessment of the infrastructure requirements associated with the development: each development – however small – should make a proportional contribution to education, health, transport and green infrastructure. The present system of hoping for rateable value increases is not delivering the required infrastructure. In addition, there needs to be a requirement to deliver most infrastructure up front or at least in parallel for all large developments.
  4. Planning authorities need to have statutory rules regarding the quality and robustness of their planning IT (recently very poor in Edinburgh); there also needs to be a statutory enforcement regime with teeth. The current system is not fit for purpose. Funding has to come from increased fees.
  5. Planning authorities should be required to reflect on and report annually on the quality of their decisions: not how many went to appeal, but by visiting completed developments shortly after completion and 2 years later.
  6. Planning permissions need to have to come with keener timelines: expiry between 18 months and 3 years (in exceptional and transparent circumstances); extensions only in the form of another application with full fees; abolition of ridiculous definitions of site start (recently, a dropped kerb qualified as site start).
  7. Planning authorities should be required to make annual/biannual capacity assessments of existing infrastructure (and in the immediate pipeline) for each neighbourhood.

 

Bothwell Street fascia signs disallowed

Leith Central CC submitted an objection to a planning application for ‘two illuminated fascia signs’ on Bothwell Street. Our grounds were

  • negative light pollution on neighouring residential properties
  • wasteful energy consumption
  • safety concerns caused by reflected sunlight from large surfaces
  • setting a precedent for what would be an alien element in Edinburgh’s townscape.

We are vey pleased that Edinburgh Council has rejected this application. It seems like a small victory for local democracy.