Notes of the Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council members-only meeting with Drum Properties, held via Zoom on Tuesday 09 June 2020 at 7:30pm
1 Introductions, apologies for absence
|Elaine Dick||LHNCC||Arthur Young||LHNCC|
|Don Giles||LHNCC||Lisa Clarke||Ben Macpherson MSP’s office|
|Jennifer Marlborough||LHNCC||Ben Macpherson MSP||Edinburgh Northern & Leith|
|Douglas Tharby||LHNCC||Calum Fraser||Iceni Projects|
|Neil Tulloch||LHNCC||Fife Hyland||Drum Properties|
|Bruce Ryan||Minutes secretary||Susan Pegg||Drum properties|
2 Presentation by Fife Hyland of Drum Properties
The presentation slides (PDF) are online at https://lhncc.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/2020_06_09-presentation.pdf. Also, click any image below to see this PDF.
F Hyland introduced what the presentation would cover.
2.b About Drum
FH noted that Drum has become well known in Leith over the last few years, mostly due to its involvement with Steads Place. Drum is also working on St Margaret’s House project in London Rd. Drum’s current larger projects are in Glasgow:
- Buchanan Wharf (Barclays’ campus, Legal & General build-to-rent scheme)
- Candlerigg Square (Merchant City). This has planning permission for an 850,000 ft2 hotel, residential, amenity development.
- G3 Square (Finnieston): 108 apartments.
Drum is also working in Aberdeen and Elgin (Travelodge).
2.c Project history
The site is connected to Pilrig Park at the back and Leith Walk at the front. Most of it is currently old industrial warehouses, but there are the well-known red sandstone buildings on the Leith Walk frontage. It was subject to a development brief in 2008. That included the Jane St area as well.
Drum purchased the site in 2017, then submitted a planning application in 2018. This would have had a hotel, student accommodation and residential accommodation, with affordable housing and retail at the front. This application was not favoured by members of the community – there was considerable confrontation despite Drum’s plans being favoured by CEC planning staff, and the application was not passed by CEC. An appeal in 2019 found against Drum’s application.
Hence Drum has taken stock of feedback etc, to prepare new plans: residential to rear, retention and refurbishment of the sandstone frontage.
2.d Proposal of Application Notice (PAN)
The current draft of the new application includes the potential for use-classes 1 (shops), 2 (financial, professional and other services), 3 (food and drink), 4 (business), 10 (non-residential institutions) and 11 (assembly and leisure) at the front of the development because Drum has no specific end-user(s) in mind. (The only use-classes not in this draft are hotels and agriculture.) That is, Drum is open to ideas that will benefit the local community, especially for the front. Drum hopes that the use of the frontage will benefit the residential areas to the rear of the site. However, Drum’s intent is to be as open and flexible as possible.
2.e Consultation activity
Drum is consulting with ‘Our Leith Walk’, a community right-to-buy group that now has official status over this site. It has had a big meeting with OLW – this was very positive – and other conversations with OLW members about post-lockdown site visits. Drum will be happy to facilitate such visits. Drum is not against OLW taking ownership of the site, and will keep talking with OLW and other groups/organisations about how the site will be used.
However, Drum needs consent for the housing part of the plans to enable the plans for the front. This is understood by OLW.
Hence Drum will establish a direct consultation group to keep people up to date with developments. Save Leith Walk (SLW), which lobbies for retention and refurbishment of the sandstone frontage, to benefit the local community, will also be involved in these consultations. Drum looks forwards to a successful development that pleases all stakeholders.
Drum is also happy to work with LHNCC, LCCC and LLCC, providing regular updates on application progression, and to meet with these CCs when the PAN is ready for submission. This invitation is also open to local CEC councillors, and to CEC leaders.
Because we are currently under lockdown, Drum cannot offer in-person events/exhibitions. Hence it is following Scottish Government advice on providing online consultation, including a bespoke website for this application. The website has summaries of the PAN and the development’s history.
The website will have details of at least one live all-day online event when those are arranged. Drum will respond to all questions ideally at the event but within 7 days if immediate answers are not possible. Drum is happy to hold more than one event – this will probably help Drum. The first event would be about key principles. A follow-up would consider the feedback generated by the first event – this would probably inform both Drum and the community.
There will a feedback questionnaire live on the website for 3 weeks after each event. This is similar to in-person events, where people can give feedback after the event, not just on the day. Such feedback will help Drum develop an online Q&A piece. This will be updated as necessary.
Drum already publishes a newsletter for key stakeholders, but will offer this to anyone who wishes to receive it.
Drum proposes publicity via (for example): postcards and leaflets to local residents giving notice of events (to try to get over the digital divide); media and social media campaigns, SLW and OLW communication channels.
The final ‘PAC’ report will contain a details analysis of metrics around engagements (‘digital footfall’) via such channels. Drum believes that digital engagement will enable gathering of such data. For example, it is possible to measure how many people visit an in-person event, but not whether and how these visits have informed people’s feedback.
2.f Indicative site-plan
F Hyland stressed that this plan shows just Drum’s initial ideas on how to create a residential development that is open, yet secure and safe, e.g. for accessing Pilrig Park from Leith Walk. Hence Drum envisages a pedestrian/cycle-path, limited car access and parking (following CEC guidance), cycle-stores, green amenity and high-quality housing – all to make this part a ‘nice place to live and walk through’.
Drum’s thoughts on the tenure mix are at early stages – there will be affordable and social housing, but Drum has not yet calculated the actual numbers. Drum is working to a ‘template’ for building heights and massing, i.e. it is working to planning guidelines and the SG Reporter’s feedback on its initial application.
Drum intends that the front building is a fully-let bustling community hub of retail and charitable services that benefit the local community and businesses. (This matches SLW’s and OLW’s ambitions.) There are no plans to demolish or build on top of the sandstone buildings.
Front building fully let, bustling hub of retail and chatty (never has bene fully let, he says) no demolition or building on top of it
2.g Q&A, AOB
F Hyland noted that he, Susan Pegg (leader of Drum’s design team) and Calum Fraser are happy to take questions. Calum Fraser is planning director at Edinburgh-based Iceni Projects. Iceni was appointed by Drum to manage planning for this application.
J Marlborough asked questions that she had previously compiled from LHNCC members’ input:
- What will the height of the buildings behind the sandstone frontage be? Will it be high-density/high-rise? There are concerns about the impact of these buildings on nearby buildings.
- Drum is at an early stage of the design process. The height must correspond with surrounding buildings. Hence 5-7 storeys in the residential part of the development and 5 storeys on Leith Walk. The actual heights are subject to discussions between C Fraser, Drum’s design team and CEC planning.
- The current plans do not include building higher than the frontage except in areas more than 20 metres behind the frontage. So accommodation would not be visible from Leith Walk.
- The indicative plans shows that Drum only intends to build in certain areas, to create amenity for flats in the development. There will be green-space access to the garden bridge – this will be used for cycle-storage etc.
- Hence this site will be less population-dense than is generally found in Leith.
- Will the site be all build-to-rent, and will this apply to affordable and social housing?
- The mix is still to be defined. Design and commercial discussions are taking place. Drum is considering options including build-to-rent and affordable housing.
- What will the provision for cars be?
- There will be limited numbers of parking spaces. Drum is currently considering parking-provision for the affordable flats, but not for the private element. Drum is waiting on a relevant discussion with CEC planning. Hence Drum has yet to refine relevant documentation. There will be a 3-metre wide cycle-path to Pilrig Park.
- D Giles: how will the flats be heated? NB Edinburgh is aiming for zero-carbon.
- Drum has not considered this in great depth but will naturally follow CEC energy guidance and other regulations. Hence Drum will consider a variety of systems, e.g. photovoltaic cells on the roof, electricity-powered heating.
- D Giles: When will the housing mix be determined? Edinburgh needs social housing.
- (not answered)
- B Ryan: I very much like Drum’s intention to try to bridge digital divide around consultation.
- B Ryan: how will qualitative and quantitative feedback be analysed?
- Drum will do a ‘reach analysis’ as part of its PAC report. The website will provide clear statistics on who has viewed what, when and for how long, etc.
- J Marlborough: When will this information be available on Drum’s website?
- This meeting is part of deciding that. Drum needs to explore its consultation plans with CCs etc. Once such liaisons have taken place, the website will need to contain the information Drum has. Hence Drum envisages end of June or start of July. Drum intends to publish online material that will make consultation work well.
- Drum will give 2-3 weeks’ notice, including a full publicity campaign (digital and leaflets), of the website’s readiness.
- E Dick: will the consultation include artists’ impressions?
- Drum intends to have AIs, certainly of the front buildings.
- E Dick: will the trees on the former railway-line be retained?
- There will be a full landscaping plan, including retaining or replacement of trees, to keep the rear of the site at least as green as it is now. Some current trees are not of great quality. Drum wishes to retain as much amenity-space as possible in this area. There are some underground restraints (e.g. sewerage, electrical) in this area. There will need to be access to the proposed ‘garden bridge’. Hence Drum will ’future-proof’ this area, including effects of the tram-line now being installed.
- Drum is required to undertake a tree survey. The site boundary does not include the embankment.
- E Dick: will the sandstone buildings be left untouched or renovated?
- Drum needs to determine the eventual use of these buildings, including need for internal fit-outs. This part of the site is relatively robust, but needs some refurbishment – this will be part of the plans to make the buildings fit current guidance.
- D Giles: will there be student accommodation?
- No – Drum has not applied for this use-class in the current application.
- N Tulloch: it is pleasing to hear Drum’s plans for extensive public consultation and involvement.
- L Clark: I understand that that there is much interest is the proportions of social and affordable housing. The answers to such questions will determine much of the local attitudes.
- Drum was made well aware of local attitudes. There will be some debate on this subject, but Drum hopes to work with the local community and relevant groups to develop a housing mix that suits as many people as possible.
- J Marlborough: care of elderly and disabled is always mixed into the affordable housing when there should be a separate category. When CEC was questioned about this, its response was ‘all developments “meet requirements”’. What is needed is provision for building intergenerational self-supporting communities. This point is for CEC for when considering Edinburgh’s local development plan.
- Drum will consider this.
- L Clark: following on from this, I have recently spoken with CEC’s housing convenor about post-coronavirus developments. We should try to consider different kinds of housing to take into account such needs, not least because the care-home model has been very problematic. It would be appropriate if more people were housed in their own homes. Hence housing will need to support this. Is this part of Drum’s thinking for this site?
- Drum’s key is CEC’s design guidance. This pushes for more family housing, and minimum sizes of flats. In the previous application, Drum considered ground-floor access to apartments. It is very likely to do so in this application. There is a mix of needs, including commercial requirements, but the current coronavirus crisis has brought new requirements to light. These include reductions in numbers of international students and tourists using short-term lets.
- D Giles: Drum’s attitude in the original application was ‘hard-nosed’. Has this changed?
- Yes – Drum has learnt from what happened initially, and hopes this is evident. Drum has endeavoured to answer SLW’s objectives, and openly discussed with SLW and OLW around consultation. Drum has welcomed this meeting with LHNCC.
- B Macpherson MSP: this has been an interesting meeting. This fresh start is welcome, and I am encouraged by Drum’s approach, sense of honesty and understanding of the past concerns. It is good to hear Drum’s clarity about retaining the sandstone frontage, and Drum’s ambitions for a social-enterprise hub here. It is also good to hear that developments will be behind the frontage, thus not affecting light-quality on Leith Walk. It is also good to learn of Drum’s plans for much green space. The ambition for a pathway from Leith Walk to Jane St and Bonnington Road is welcome. Drums’ commitment to engaging and working with the local community is very welcome. It will be understandable if the community is initially cynical, and I will retain some too until the construction work actually starts. As a community, we need to understand this development in terms of the whole local area, including the site across Leith Walk which will also have much social and affordable housing. I am more concerned about build-to-rent in Bonnington Road than I am about built-to-rent on this site, Affordable and social housing is very much needed in Leith, and there are statutory minimum requirements for these, but I understand that this needs to be underpinned by commercial developments. Due to legislation currently being developed, short-term lets are likely to have reduced effects. Also, emergence from the coronavirus crisis requires jobs – these are much needed in Leith. I look forward to continuing to engage with Leith. Can Drum consider ‘passive housing’, depending on Scottish Government policy enabling this?
- I would prefer the phrase ‘deep scepticism’ to ‘cynicism’, otherwise the MSP’s words are very welcome. Please contact Drum with any queries at any time, not just at consultation events.
- J Marlborough: thank you for accepting our request for this meeting. LHNCC can help with community engagement via its website.
- D Tharby: I am glad of this opportunity for constructive engagement and am optimistic about future developments.