LHNCC January 2020 minutes

Minutes of the Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council meeting, held at the Leith Community Education Centre on Tuesday 28 January 2020 at 7pm

Actions and decisions are red italic. Nem con means that no-one spoke or voted against an item.

1 Introductions and apologies for absence

1.a Present

Stewart Auld LHNCC Neil Tulloch LHNCC Cllr Jim Campbell Forth ward
Elaine Dick LHNCC Arthur Young LHNCC William Muir Sundial properties
Don Giles LHNCC/FOWL.b PC Chris Smith Police Scotland 10 residents/visitors
Douglas Tharby LHNCC Cllr Chas Booth Leith ward

1.b Apologies

Rob Levick LHNCC Jennifer Marlborough LHNCC Cllr Gordon Munro Leith ward Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary

2 Declaration of interests


3 Minutes of November 2019 meeting

Approved as-is (proposed D Tharby, seconded S Auld, nem con)

4 Matters arising

All covered in agenda below

5 Police report

PC Smith reported

  • There was a large number of ‘abstractions’ over December due to elections, cases at the High Court, Hogmanay etc.
  • There was action on shoplifting over the festive period.
  • Police assisted Port Of Leith Housing Association with drugs issues.
  • There were issues with youths at Ocean Terminal. These seem to have abated now.
  • Police visited the Citadel youth club several times, both as a ‘surgery’ and to spread awareness about drugs.
  • Police visted King St Mosque and Portland St youth hostel recently to engage with youth.
  • A police action stopped 50 vehicles in Commercial St: 2 prohibition orders and 2 traffic tickets were issued.
  • A police action in London Rd stopped 37 vehicles: 2 fixed penalties & 1 vehicle rectification ticket issued; 1 arrest on warrant.
    • The above were undertaken with CEC tax examiners and Police Scotland roads policing unit.
  • There was bike-marking at Leith market, and a safety input event at Out of the Blue.
  • There was a road-safety event in Waverley station.
  • PC Smith is currently dealing with an incident of counterfeit currency in Ocean Terminal and elsewhere in central Scotland.
  • On 13 January, an arrest at Ocean Terminal led to intelligence about a person wanted on warrant. This led to recovery of £20,000 of crack cocaine and £800 in money.
  • PC Smith has obtained some crime statistics: in NL26 beat (Newhaven and Commercial St) there were calls on
    • Concern for person: 24 calls in December, 22 so far in January
    • Domestic abuse: 15 calls in December, 10 so far in January
    • Drugs: 6 calls in December, 6 so far in January
    • Assisting members of the public: 25 calls in December, 31 so far in January
    • Robbery: 1 call in December, 0 so far in January
    • Theft: 41 calls in December (26 shoplifting), 19 so far in January
    • Suspect persons: 4 in December, 5 so far in January
    • Assault: 3 calls in December, 5 so far in January
  • PC Smith and colleagues are looking into running cycling proficiency sessions.
  • PC Smith could not comment on a recent death which is under investigation.

6 Councillors’, MSP’s and MP’s reports

6.a Cllr J Campbell

  • The planning application for a new sports facility at Trinity Academy is being brought forward.
  • Consideration of the potential asset transfer of the former Victoria Primary School building to Heart of Newhaven is ongoing.
  • CEC’s budget debate is imminent.

6.b Cllr C Booth

  • Because the UK general election delayed the Scottish Government budget, CEC’s budget process is considerably truncated.
    • There has hence been very little public consultation on the budget, and none on specific proposals.
    • Local councillors, although not part of CEC’s administration, will welcome questions on the budget.
  • ‘Choices for City Plan 2030’ will soon be launched. This sets out key planning policies for Edinburgh for the next ~10 years.
    • This includes policies to tackle climate change, e.g. designing places that are more accessible to walking and cycling.
    • There will be 8 weeks of consultation, via CEC’s consultation hub.
    • In parallel, there is a consultation on the City Mobility Plan, which aims to increase mobility while decreasing emissions.
  • Tram work is progressing: work at Ocean Terminal and Melrose Drive should start in March.
    • There were teething issues around traffic management on Constitution St.
    • Responses by the trams team to concerns have been ‘generally good’ but local councillors will help with any outstanding.
  • Cllr Booth noted controversies over commercialisation of the city centre and short-term lets (STLs). ‘Choices for City Plan’ suggests needing ‘change of use’ permission to use domestic dwellings for short-term lets. LAs will also have more powers.
    • A resident noted that Scotland’s greatest number of STL listings is in Edinburgh’s city centre ward. The second greatest is in Leith Walk ward, and the 7th is in Leith ward.
    • Andy Wightman MSP has launched a website to record STLs.
    • E Dick noted this Scottish Government report giving details of STLs’ effects across Scotland.
  • S Auld asked about cladded properties.
    • Cllr Campbell stated that mortgage lenders now require proof that cladding is not risky. There are more people able to provide such proof in England than in Scotland. There is detailed information available on the RICS website.
    • Cllr Booth noted that CEC building standards has surveyed every relevant property, and has notified owners of findings. If CEC has found that a building is not risky, it will provide a letter to that effect. This letter satisfies some lenders, but not all.
    • There was discussion of risks, e.g. safe cladding being specified but risky cladding actually being used.
    • Cllr Booth offered to chase up specific enquiries.

7 Chair, secretary, treasurer and vice-chair reports

7.a Chair

  • He noted he is chair of Leith neighbourhood network, and vice-chair of north east locality community planning partnership.
  • The NN met on 27 November: 17 organisations attended. Discussions included a local directory of organisations and upgrading public parks and spaces. There is money available for such works, to be discussed at the next NN meeting. This will be a drop-in session on 5 February (3pm-6pm) at the Kirkgate, with theme ‘Let’s make our area better’.
  • He attended a public exhibition on the Baltic St development n November 28.
  • The key recent outreach event was the Victoria primary school Christmas lights ceremony on 2 December.
  • There is a major restoration project in the area: SS Explorer. He met with volunteers working on this piece of maritime history. The chair hopes that former member Jim Duff will update LHNCC on progress.
  • The NELCP met on 5 December inter alia to consider a progress update on the local improvement plan progress.
  • The Leith Festival lights ceremony at the Kirkgate took place on 5 December, but the lights had been vandalised.
  • LHNCC’s secretary has met with W Barr of the Citadel youth centre. Action: J Marlborough to update LHNCC on this.
  • CEC has set up ‘checkpoint’: a panel of citizens to review the work of Edinburgh Partnerships short-life working groups on improving communications and strengthening community participation.
  • All CCs are members of the Edinburgh Association of CCs, chaired by John Tibbitt (Leith Central CC). He is determined to change EACC for the better. He seeks input from CCs, so the chair asked for views from LHNCC members.
  • The chair also spoke to Leith Central CC about LeithChooses. Any CC meeting can be attended by anyone, including neighbouring CC members.
  • EACC met on 23 January. LHNCC’s representative is its secretary. Matters discussed included the city mobility plan and City Plan 2030.
  • This morning, the chair met with C Hammond of Forth Ports to discuss inter alia the Western Harbour development and pollution in the Water of Leith.

7.b Treasurer

Current balance is £904·09, including £0·16 interest. The balance was substantially reduced by £268·17 for Victoria Primary School event on 2 December. There is are outstanding invoices for minutes, the ICO annual payment and website admin. A more accurate balance should be available in February.

7.c Secretary

Not present, but much of her work is about planning – see below.

7.d Vice-chair

  • LHNCC recently held an internal meeting covering how it works. This has led to a restructured agenda and to individual LHNCC members leading on various topics.
  • The winter LHNCC newsletter is due out soon. The vice-chair asked for input.

8 Planning

See the monthly planning update and website for details.

8.a Presentation from William Muir (Sundial Properties) and Q&A: 1-5 Baltic St and 7-27 Constitution St

Mr Muir reported:

  • At first, plans covered only part of the Travis Perkins (TP) site. Sundial was chosen for its long association with Leith.
  • The site has now been extended to include a TP’s scrapyard. This enables treatment of a significant part of Leith’s history.
  • By 1822, there was a naval yard due to the Napoleonic wars. The site was then let to local merchants.
  • By 1852, the gas-works had expanded, and south Leith station had been built.
  • Buildings were listed in 1970, but later mostly demolished. The site seen much decline in recent years.
  • Part of the site has permission for 212 flats (25% affordable). There is a PAN for another part.
  • The current proposal is for purpose-built student accommodation combined with other uses:
    • On Constitution St there would be tenure-blind affordable housing in a prominent location.
    • There would also be a digital co-working space/café near the tram-line, to replace the CEC start-up hub.
    • Student accommodation would be within the original gas-works site. This would include two wardens’ flats.
  • Sundial wishes this to be a sustainable site: there would be substantial cycle-parking, most of which would be secure. There would be only 4 parking spaces, and the development would be highly porous for pedestrians to give access to trams.
  • The building would reflect former local industrial architecture, to form a gateway into the city.
  • There is desire for small, flexible areas for businesses: so there would be shops below the accommodation, to be used only by local businesses.
  • The façade on Baltic St would be retained. Original cobbles will be retained in the final development.
  • A townscape study states that parts need to retain the industrial look. Also, the development density would be low.
  • Heights would match the current surroundings, i.e. lower than other nearby developments.

8.a.i Questions and answers

A resident stated that the original plan was for housing on Baltic St, but in July 2019 Sundial stated that without use of the scrapyard, buildings on Baltic St would need to be very high. Plans are now for 558 student places and 18 affordable houses. In September 2019, Save Leith Walk (SLW) met with Mr Muir. Plans at that time featured a hotel and some shops. SLW disapproved of these plans due to lack of private housing and other issues. SLW recognises that the site is currently an ‘eyesore’, but would prefer it to be used for affordable and mixed-use housing.

Mr Muir responded that he/Sundial wanted to learn from the Stead’s Place issues, and that he was grateful for the meeting arranged by the resident. He suggested that the main fault with the Stead’s Place plans was that they did not take account of local opinions, would have cost local jobs and affordable, flexible office-space. Hence he/Sundial want to produce an environmentally-friendly, well-connected historically legitimate development. He acknowledges the need for housing. However, due to the Baltic St site’s problems (major pollution, present buildings being in very poor condition), a development on just Baltic St would need to be 9 storeys, could not have had affordable housing and could not have made section 75 or tram-related contributions. With student housing as now proposed, there can be a ‘substantial’ contribution. Hence Sundial will submit a detailed assessment of only housing being built on the site, showing it will produce a large deficit. Concerning student density, the housing would be for postgraduates. (There are 12,000 such students in Edinburgh.) The housing will be located by the tram.

Another resident stated that CEC’s planning convenor had suggested that developers need to revisit their models in the light of climate change, in particular considering how buildings can be converted to residential use.

  • Mr Muir responded that the design is for 59 HMO flats, each fully compliant with all fire regulations. This is comparable with the 212 flats for the adjacent site.
  • The FUL application will be submitted this week. There will then be a 4-week consultation.

8.b Planning subgroup report

D Giles noted

  • LHNCC has learnt the hard way to wait for FUL applications before commenting.
    • The resident in section 8.a.i suggested there should be fuller open community consultation run by LHNCC, and that the current plans do not meet various CEC housing policies.
    • D Giles noted that many developers don’t even present to CCs. There was then discussion of the role of CCs in planning.
  • The Aldi development in Commercial St is now under way. One issue here is potentially increased traffic and hence increased pollution.
  • LHNCC has considered other planning applications. Its positions are on its planning summary and will soon be on its website.

9 Licensing

Nothing to report

10 Transport

10.a Trams/CCTT (Community Councils Together on Trams)

CCTT and CEC’s trams team will meet at the end of this week. D Tharby circulated a map showing dates of works.

10.b EBUG (Edinburgh Bus Users’ Group)

Held over to February due to LHNCC’s lead being absent.

11 Environment

E Dick noted the consultation on CEC and SG commitments on the climate emergency (closes 29 February).

D Giles asked why CEC allowed its wholly owned subsidiary (Lothian Buses) to purchase brand-new diesel buses.

  • Cllr Booth responded that CEC cannot tell LB what to do, and that LB operates in a commercial environment. LB has an emission-reduction plan, and has some electric buses (purchased using an SG grant). Cllr Booth stated that LB’s fleet is cleaner than those of other central-belt bus companies. LB will need to comply with the forthcoming Edinburgh low-emission zone.

11.a Water of Leith/Friends of Water of Leith basin

D Giles noted

  • that the tripartite group dealing with rubbish collecting at Victoria bridge have almost reached agreement on arrangements. (Cost-sharing is due to be agreed soon.) Clearance-need will be monitored by the Conservation Trust (CT) and the local community. CT will regularly clear away plastic but not brushwood. Contractors will deal with that as needed.
  • There is now a refurbished bench on the Shore.
  • There is an on-going issue about ownership of, and hence responsibility for repairs to, the key walls. Deeds appear to suggest that these are owned by Forth Ports. Currently CT is clearing away vegetation.
  • A artist has now been sourced to repair the Paolozzi mural in Henderson St.
  • The bridges are under debate with Forth Ports, who acknowledge that work is needed but have not committed to doing this.
  • Sewage discharge is being dealt with by Scottish Water, but access is currently prevented by work on the Junction St bridge.

12 Heritage

S Auld noted that he is now a member of Heart of Newhaven, and looks forward to such work.

E Dick noted that the steel shed has now been dismantled and is now stored near the Britannia.

13 Community

D Giles urged LHNCC members and residents to come and vote – and/or steward – at LeithChooses on Saturday 1 February.
D Tharby added that lessons have been learnt from previous years, including volunteers’ briefings and changes to ‘traffic’ flows.

14 Edinburgh City Plan 2030 and consultation

E Dick noted the consultation on City Plan 2030 (open 31 January to 27 March). There are drop-in events detailed here.

15 Neighbourhood Environment Programme

Held over until February due to LHNCC lead being absent


No items

17 Date of next meeting

Tuesday 25 February 2020 (7pm-9pm)

One thought on “LHNCC January 2020 minutes

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