LHNCC April 2021 minutes

MInutes of the Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council ordinary meeting, held via Zoom, on Tuesday 23 March 2021at 7:00pm

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

Elaine Dick LHNCC Arthur Young LHNCC Jim Dick Sheppard Robson
Don Giles LHNCC Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary Nicholas Uglow Simpson & Brown
Jennifer Marlborough LHNCC Cllr Chas Booth Leith ward ~34 residents/visitors
Douglas Tharby LHNCC Robert Evans Ryden
Neil Tulloch LHNCC Peter Carruthers Union Property Services

1.b Apologies for absence

Stewart Auld LHNCC Cllr Gordon Munro Leith ward
Cllr Adam McVey Leith Ward Sgt Elaine McArthur-Kerr Police Scotland

2 Declaration of interests


3 Minutes of February 2021 meeting

Approved as-is (proposed N Tulloch, seconded J Marlborough, nem con)

4 Matters arising, and not on the agenda


5 Police report

See full report in Appendix 1.

J Marlborough noted ongoing issues include bike-theft. She has received feedback on

  • pavement-parking at Hawthornvale
    • Current legislation does not forbid pavement-parking; new legislation is not yet in force.
  • noise from Ocean Terminal on 19 March
    • This is from permitted filming; Police Scotland were aware and monitoring. JM has asked about lack of notification.

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

6.a Cllr Booth

  • Last week, CEC housing committee discussed implications of CEC’s budget on rent-freezes. The committee’s agreed position is ‘council officers will explore every available opportunity to limit rent rises in the future’. This is because of the tension between CEC needing revenue to maintain the housing stock and many tenants having low incomes.
  • A planning application for a site between Industry Lane and Ferry Road has been continued, and will come before CEC Planning committee in the future.
  • J Marlborough asked about abandoned vehicles – two have been abandoned for over a year. Neither has been taxed or MOTed. One is blocking the entrance to the Red Cross training centre. DVLA says that CEC has responsibility for removing abandoned cars.
    • Action: JM to send details to Cllr Booth
  • Concerning pavement-parking, a resident was told by ‘101’ not to bother this service with this issue. The resident was advised to ask for a reference number when making such reports.
    • Cllr Booth noted that pavement-parking is a police issue only if it obstructs access.

7 Chair, Secretary and Treasurer reports

7.a Chair

See full report in Appendix 2

  • I attended Trinity CC’s March meeting, where there was a presentation by police on trust, confidence and priorities.

7.b Secretary

  • J Marlborough noted the deluge of consultations, housing developments etc that overlap without a cohesive vision but will have a major impact. A joint meeting of LHNCC and Leith Links CC with CEC’s director of place may help.
    • Decision: LHNCC to work with LLCC as above.
  • There are overflowing bins on The Shore and Commercial Wharf.
  • It was noted how much work J Marlborough in particular is handling.

7.c Treasurer

  • Current balance £1020·67 (statement on 2021_02_12)
  • Since then, LHNCC has paid for minutes, Zoom fee.
  • Hence current balance is £911·28.

8 Standing reports

8.a Planning

8.a.i Rennie’s Isle Development (presentation and discussion on the planning application from Robert Evans, Director, Ryden Planning for VRS Ltd c/o Union Property Services, and team members

This was given by Robert Evans (planning consultant, Ryden), Peter Carruthers (development director, Union Property Services [parent of VRS, which owns the site]), Jim Dick (design team lead, Sheppard Robson), Nicholas Uglow (heritage specialist, Simpson & Brown architects)

See also slides at https://lhncc.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/2021_03_23-rennies-isle.pdf

  • This presentation is to start a dialogue with LHNCC – the developers will be happy to come to future meetings.
  • There have been pre-application discussion with CEC, but the design is still evolving.
  • So today will test a range of options for redevelopment of the existing office building into a build-to-rent scheme.
  • Slide 2: shows the site at the entrance to the Water of Leith. The site’s backdrop is the docks and maritime industry. To the south is the Leith conservation area.
  • Slide 3: the design team is very aware of the site’s sensitivity and historical environment. The site itself is 19th-century reclaimed land to the east of Victoria Dock. The site’s importance to cultural heritage comes from it being so near to the conservation area and many listed buildings (including some of the docks, with their ‘industrial’ character). Key views include the Signal Tower (originally built as a windmill). The conservation area (and its aesthetics/materiality) will be key to design work. But current consented developments will also be a factor – these have a more contemporary character. Hence the design team is working on how such factors will be reflected in the design of this development. There will be more iterative engagement with CEC on this, and on impact on the conservation area etc. Assessment by the design team is as if the site were within the conservation area.
    • The site is bounded to the north by Ocean Drive. New tram-stops are being built nearby, so it is a ‘transitional area’.
  • Slide 4: There has been transformation of the area for some years. This is continuing, e.g. trams, Salamander St, Baltic St, Skyliner, Cala development, Ocean Terminal.
  • Slide 5: shows a closer view of the site’s location, and views of it from various nearby locations. Currently the site has a two-storey office building from the 1980s. Around it are residential properties of various heights from the 1980s.
    • The site excludes an existing carpark on Rennie’s isle, but is being considered as if it reached the Victoria bridge and a small area of land to the north of Ocean Drive and the road on the west of Rennie’s Isle next to Victoria Dock.
  • Slide 6: this shows pedestrian routes to and within the site: the developers aim to improve pedestrian movement. There would be increased pedestrian movement when the Skyliner and Cala developments are populated. There is a difference in levels between the path at the east of the site and Ocean Drive: the developers wish to attend to this.
  • Slide 7: this shows the development brief: rentable accommodation integrating affordable and family housing for all ages, with a live-work model and artisan workspace. This is pertinent to the (post-) COVID world. The development would be car-free, apart from some disabled and car-club parking spaces, and would have > 300 bike-parking spaces.
  • Slide 8: this shows some pre-application options that have been considered so far
  • Slide 9: this shows more on possible options. The bottom of the building would be a plinth, whose top is level with adjacent buildings on Rennie’s Isle. Above that would be a tower, with the top story set back from other storeys.
    • There would be a continuous walkway into the Water of Leith on the west. Edinburgh Design Panel has commented favourably on this, and suggested making more of the frontage on the east.
    • The application will not cover the Victoria bridge (the developers do not own it), but the developers will encourage pedestrian movement on it. The developers understand the need for the bridge to be improved.
  • Slide 10: this shows the boundary of the PAN application. This was ‘extended to include for additional external landscaped space and improvement of pedestrian connectivity’.
  • Slide 11: shows the side ground-floor plan in the context of the surrounding areas. (The white dots on the north edge of Ocean Drive are planned bollards.) There is an aspiration for quality landscaping and biodiversity around the buildings. The north side of the building would ramp down from Ocean Drive to the Water of Leith, to encourage pedestrian movement. Cars could still access the area to the west of the building. Resident’s parking [presumably elsewhere on Rennie’s Isle] would be protected from abuse. The building’s ground floor would be active on all faces.
  • Slide 12: this shows the character and scale of the surrounding area.
  • Slide 13: this shows the work in progress in response to Edinburgh Design Panel feedback, e.g.pulling the building back and linking to the land to the north of Ocean Drive to give better connectivity and a better environment.
  • Slide 14: this shows representative views from Ocean Drive and Commercial St. These are still work in progress. The exhibition website has further options for massing and materials. Some of these have been tested somewhat.
    • The current views show 18 storeys. Drawings showing other heights (10 or more storeys) have been made.
    • Action: developers to supply such drawings to LHNCC.
8.a.i.1 Q&A

J Marlborough presented two pre-submitted questions from residents. Subsequent questions are directly from attendees.

  • (1) Lack of green space for the amount of dense housing that is currently being constructed in the immediate area and also close by within the most densely populated suburb of Edinburgh before any of the recent housing construction started. The housing itself is largely massive blocks of flats on very small plot sizes and very limited access to green space. (2) You are not providing anything that is needed.
    • Developers: the height allows stepping back of the top storeys to provide terraces and amenity space. Public realm will be part of the amenity space around the building. This is an urban environment. We will look at possible improvements to the public realm. We don’t have all the answers yet.
    • Resident: CEC policy is for 2 hectares of quality green space within 800m of new developments. The only such area nearby is Leith Links, which isn’t of the required quality and is 1km away. There is no amenity space on Ocean Drive etc. Depending on the number of residents in the development, there may be a need for even more green space.
    • Developers: there would be up to 180 units. There are currently 90 units on Rennie’s Isle.
    • Resident: Skyliner adds even more population, and has very little open space. The land to the north of Ocean Drive is not suitable for public use. (It would be nice if it was looked after.) People already have fallen into these docks.
    • Developer: there are conflicting CEC policies of dense housing and green-space requirements.
  • I am worried by the continual overdevelopment, the volume of traffic and the lack of facilities.
    • Resident: Various facilities (e.g. dentists, doctors, nurseries) will be needed – the area’s population is growing. There are no small local shops, and schools are some distance away.
    • Developers: (no response)
  • (1)car free section can this be explained and what are the consequences for the residents of Rennies’ Isle? (2) Why here and not along the Western Harbour where the infrastructure is there already i.e. road section, parking bays with plots of land available and also a short to a supermarket and to bus stops/tram stops? (3) Are the surrounding roads being modified to be able to support any extra activity especially with the changes being made due to the tram extension?
    • Resident: already, visitors are using residents’ parking spaces. I do not believe that families can be car-free. How will Ocean Drive (both road and tram-line) be adapted to allow pedestrians to cross it safely?
    • Developers: We have been asked this already via online consultations. We have promised to investigate further, including ways to secure residents’ parking spaces (e.g. bollards, barriers). We plan to lift the current road-surface, by introducing a speed-bump making the site more pedestrian-focused, but still allowing appropriate access.
    • Developers: it’s relatively easy to protect Rennie’s Isle residents’ parking-spaces. The issue is the demand for parking from residents of the new development.
  • Resident: Will the roof-spaces and terraces be public green spaces? What is the price of the flats? Quite often, active frontages are busy during the day but dead at night. So how will pedestrian safety be maintained here? How will you tackle the thin veneer of walking space on the site?
    • Developers: we have not set any values on affordable housing yet – testing on the size of the building is in progress. We have committed to CEC’s 25% requirement for affordable housing. This would be sprinkled throughout the development. It is likely that terraces would not be open to the public, but would be open to all resident. On build-to-rent schemes, much ground-floor spaces is occupied during the day and night. There would be on-site security.
  • Resident: I’m happy with the development, but the swing-bridge needs to be taken into account.
    • Developer: we need to make a significant contribution to CEC. We are asking CEC to invest this into the immediate surroundings. We hope this will enable something to be done with the bridge – it’s currently a missed opportunity.
    • Resident: Surely any Rennies’ Isle development needs to bring in Forth Ports (owners of the bridge)?
    • Developers: we would like to do so.
  • Resident: it seems you are suggesting shared space. This idea has had much backlash from visually impaired people. However, I support the overall idea of pedestrian space.
    • Developers: It’s true that this needs careful design and management. We await feedback from CEC highways team. We have a transport consultant in the team. It should be pedestrian space that vehicles can access when necessary.
  • Resident: Slide 9 shows the path down the side of the block. Do you own this? Not many people walk here – it’s very narrow, and can’t be widened. Even if only a small proportion of new residents use this path, this would be a significant, detrimental increase. Unless you control the Victoria Bridge, which is in disrepair, there will undesirable impacts. Where will the >300 bike-spaces be?
    • Developers: bike storage is inside the building on ground and first floor. The path is a now non-functional dead-end.
  • Resident: I am concerned about the potential height and number of residents. Will parking be forbidden here? My experience as a police officer is that people ignore parking regulations, and that families will have cars.
    • Developers: there will be no private car-parking spaces, just 2 car-club spaces. CEC policy encourages this. The development will not appeal to those who wish to have cars. We need to have more environmentally-friendly ways.
  • J Marlborough: many disabled and elderly people have mobility issues. Will this make the development exclusionary?
    • Developers: our experience is positive. Disabled spaces will be provided. There will be tenure-blind accommodation.
  • Resident: The drawings appear to show 9 storeys, but you have mentioned up to 18 storeys. So where are the other 9? I am concerned about the actual height. What about shadowing onto other Rennie’s Isle and Queen’s Quay buildings?
    • Developers: we have shown nine 2-storey levels. We are considering a range of heights – see other drawings on the website. We will use established viewpoints and methodology to assess scale, massing and effects on viewpoints.
  • Resident: (1) There are many deliveries along the road to Victoria Quay. (2) The vennel between Rennie’s Isle and the building goes over an access route to parking. How will building materials be delivered, i.e. where will relevant vehicles park. (3) Flat 6/3 on Rennie’s Isle attached to the current building. How will it be protected during construction?
    • Developers: We are aware of (1) and will consult with VQ. Concerning (2) and (3), we will develop solutions with structural engineer colleagues. We have not yet directly spoken with the owners of 6/3 but they are aware of plans. We expect CEC to place pedestrian- and traffic-management conditions on the plans for construction. We are very aware of tram-installation installed, but building would not start until tram-construction here is finished.
  • Resident: many problems, especially residents’ concerns, could be solved by significantly reducing the building’s height.
  • Elaine Dick: I am concerned that the proposed building would have an unwelcome impact.
    • Developers: we do not yet know what height is being assessed – no planning application has been made. Yes, the building, whatever it turns out to be, will be visible from some places.
    • E Dick: I mean from the Shore.
    • Developers: some views in this area will change marginally. We will need to do a large number of view analyses.
    • E Dick: I am happy to hear of these conversations.
  • B Ryan: there has been a lot on engagement via Zoom chat.
    • Action: B Ryan to capture chat, cleanse it of names, and arrange for questions in it to be forwarded to developers.
  • Resident: I agree with concerns over height.
  • Developers: thank you all for comments, which are part of the early design process. We would like to return, and to respond positively to some comments. (We can’t to all.) We do not have a preconception of 18 storeys, but are testing different scales and massing. We appreciate points on, for example, car-free design.
  • J Marlborough: there are many high-density developments already in this area. We don’t need another one.

8.a.ii Albert Dock and Commercial Quay

  • J Marlborough: the Albert Dock application has now been refused but has now gone to appear. LHNCC is preparing a response asking for reinstatement of what has present before bollards were installed.
  • J Marlborough: There are no longer plans to fill in the water feature. LHNCC has objected to the painting of the listed buildings, which does not fit with requirements. A proviso has been made about this.

8.a.iii Salamander St/Bath Rd

J Marlborough: this will be a huge development. We have arranged to meet the agent, jointly with LLCC

8.a.iv Seafield Project update

N Tulloch: at the start of March, CEC suggested a meeting to discuss the partnership model it prefers, the project brief and the required services and costs. However, there has been no response to the Seafield Group’s suggestions for dates.

8.a.v Stead’s Place

J Marlborough: we have a meeting arranged to discuss refurbishment of this building with the developers.

8.b Licensing

A Young: nothing to report

8.c Transport

8.c.i Trams/Community Councils Together on Trams

  • J Marlborough: Atkins’ report on vibration has now been produced. CCTT will be asking questions of the trams team.
  • J Marlborough: LHNCC has responded to the Leith Connections consultation, and has received the minute of a meeting.

8.c.ii Edinburgh Bus User’s Group

J Marlborough: EBUG has met with conservative councillors, and will meet with liberal democrat councillors soon. EBUG’s AGM will be in May.

8.c.iii Spaces for People consultation

J Marlborough: the deadline for this has been extended.

8.d Environment

8.d.i Coalie Park Conversations consultation

D Giles: a survey on planned development is live (closing 31 March). Water of Leith Conservation Trust will publish findings.

8.d.ii PAS & Zero Waste Scotland, Circular Economy and Planning System event

J Marlborough: I attended one of these workshops. PAS has produced a helpful PDF. Action: JM to circulate this.

8.e Heritage

8.e.i Heart of Newhaven Community Project

J Marlborough: HoN’s crowdfunding (toward architect’s fees) has been successful. The land-fund grant has been delayed.

8.f Community

8.f.i Edinburgh Civic Forum – Update

J Marlborough: a recent meeting on planning and development was successful. Action: JM to circulate minutes when available

8.f.ii North East Community Planning Partnership

  • D Tharby: the next meeting will be on 5 May. There has been no further progress on the Leith Neighbourhood Network.
  • D Tharby: There was a LeithChooses feedback meeting. This was informative and helpful

8.f.iii Edinburgh Partnerships Reforms – EACC

J Marlborough: this is work in progress.

8.f.iv Community Council Planning Training Workshop

  • J Marlborough: this was very good. Action: JM to circulate slides.
  • D Tharby: CEC is offering more training for CCs.

9 Resident issues

9.a Parking restrictions in Tower Street

J Marlborough: all on-street parking here has been stopped for tram-construction. Private developments have private parking. I have referred a complaint to the trams team.

9.b Overflowing bins at The Shore and Commercial Wharf

See above

9.c Abandoned vehicles

See above

9.d Pavement-parking on Hawthornvale and Jessfield

  • A resident: I have contacted various officials about this. There are now cones put out by residents to mark where doors are, and reduce-pavement parking. We would like to replace the cones with more positive things, e.g. planters. How can this be done?
    • J Marlborough: this sounds like a good idea. It could make it a very attractive street.
    • Resident: I’m not convinced that legislation and enforcement are best.
    • Cllr Booth: Hawthornvale isn’t my ward, but I’m happy to speak with colleagues. I like this idea.

10 Leith Connections consultation and next steps

J Marlborough: I have circulated relevant minutes to LHNCC members. They can be circulated wider.

  • Action: LHNCC to discuss this in April.



12 Date of next meeting

Tuesday 27 April 2021

13 Appendix 1: Police report

13.a Coronavirus pandemic:

The Police response under Operation Talla has continued in line with the updated Government regulations which are being frequently updated:

  • continued lockdown rules (for level 4) with guidance to stay at home except for essential purposes
  • up to 4 adults from up to 2 households may socialise outdoors
  • up to 4 children aged 12-17 years from up to 4 households may socialise outdoors
  • non-contact outdoor group sport/exercise is permitted in groups of up to 15 people
  • there is to be no travel into or out of Scotland without an essential reason
  • places of worship, gyms, tourism-related accommodation, leisure & entertainment premises are to remain closed; however, the government has set out a timetable for easing of restrictions.

13.b Breakdown of calls in north Leith/Newhaven area, for period 21/02 to 22/03

  • 28 calls relating to public nuisance
  • 9 covid-related calls
  • 14 neighbour disputes
  • 40 calls of theft/housebreaking
  • 11 domestic-related calls
  • 9 calls of other violence
  • 6 loud noise/music-related calls
  • 29 concern-for/missing person calls
  • 6 drug-related calls *

The Police approach in dealing with breaches to coronavirus regulations has not changed, with those people found in contravention being provided with advice in the first instance, and thereafter encouraged to return to a home address or desist in participating in a particular activity, with enforcement (usually in the form of increasing fines) as a last resort.

13.c Some of the local issues we have been tackling

Much of our time has been spent abstracted to Operation Proust, formed in response to youth disturbances on or towards moving buses. This has included uniformed and plain-clothes patrols on and around the buses, information and advisory posts on social media, and has led to several charges for Culpable & Reckless Conduct and youth-offending reports to Social Work.

There have been a number of positive drugs searches (including diazepam, heroin, cannabis and cocaine) across Leith in areas such as Newkirkgate shopping centre, Leith Links, Argyle Street and Crown Place by local officers in plain-clothes, following intelligence gathering from community officers

13.d Beat Hunger Campaign

Our Beat Hunger Campaign has launched! Over the last week, we have been distributing our Beat Boxes, containing the Martin Wishart-compiled recipe book, fresh fruit and vegetables, cooking utensils and support leaflets, at food banks across Leith to supplement the voucher-based relief packages. Tasty meals so far have included Butternut Squash Soup and Spaghetti Pappa Al Pomolo.

13.e Impetus Magazine

We at the Leith Community Policing Team were contacted by the creator/editor of a new bi-monthly news publication called Impetus, which will be distributed to 5000 homes in the EH6 postcode, to provide an introduction to policing in Leith. Look out for the article in the coming months!

14 Appendix 2: Chair’s report

I thank you again for attending this meeting. A special welcome to those who have joined us from the local community and to see so many as well.

The work of this CC has built up a pace. Consultations seem to dominate our business and I have to say that this is now quite far reaching and things do not seem to be as ‘joined up’ as I feel that they should be.

Our various standing reports will follow shortly and we have a number of updates for you.

I attended the EACC meeting on 25th February Chaired by Steve Kerr as John Tibbit has moved away. There was a presentation by Paul Lawrence, Director of Place which was appreciated by all present. There is an issue with CC representation on the Partnership Board and this will be addressed by us at a future meeting.

Once again I attended the meeting of Trinity Community Council on 8th March. This CC has a speaker and I am wondering if we might factor this into our programme from the summer onwards.

The big event for £eith Chooses was the open review night on 9th February. A frank and open response was received from its attendee and the Steering Group have some thoughts and ideas to carry forward to the next year.

I have news on our Neighbourhood Network and associated Partnership Meetings which are outlined elsewhere.

Douglas Tharby, Chair

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