Thursday, 3 October 2013


The new Caltongate proposals have been slammed by heritage groups for the inappropriate designs submitted by Allan Murray Architects.
Today's Scotsman article titled 

Caltongate will become 'Nowheresville'

details criticism of the plans from heritage bodies 
The Cockburn Association and the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland.

The Cockburn Association published their response to the applications earlier this week on their website HERE

Unfortunately the period for submitting comments/objections on the councils website has now closed but details of the applications and supporting documents are still available to view on their PORTAL
You can still write to the Head of Planning, the planning officers and your councillors raising concerns about the Caltongate proposals however they will declare your objections as being 'late'!

Its clear from recent comments on social media about the Caltongate site that many feel it is an area in need of development but that these plans are not nearly good enough for this important site and the speculative nature in no way provides reassurance that development on the ground will happen. The focus is on 'development uplift' and maintaining inflated land values for overseas investors.

The Council have sat back for 5years allowing the deterioration of publicly owned buildings (which  community groups have repeatedly requested for use) through deliberate neglect by the previous developers Mountgrange and then Deloitte (administrators to the failed Mountgrange Caltongate company). 
In 2010 the land sale to Mountgrange for Caltongate was reported as ILLEGAL 
However in December 2011 Dave Anderson, as Head of City Development, recommended the council agree to a new off market offer for developers Artisan to acquire the public land and buildings (East Market St) at very favourable terms so they could deliver the approved but FAILED scheme. 

A variety of community organisations had undertaken important research on the heritage of the area were already developing proposals for community led regeneration projects in the area, which would see the reuse of listed buildings and provision of much needed local services and facilities. The sale was highly criticised for being rushed at the time by all opposition parties to the then administration (Lib/SNP) but was voted through by a very slim majority only months before the Local council elections which saw many of its supporters loose their seats.

How will the new 'cooperative council' deliver community planning, democratic decision making  and sustainable development to the Canongate while continuing to put the control of valuable public assets and land in the hands of overseas investors who are not accountable to the community?

Saturday, 28 September 2013


This weekend Edinburgh celebrates Doors Open days with buildings of architectural and cultural importance being opened for free public access across the city.
One building proposed for inclusion was Canongate Venture but the doors remain furmly SHUT as City of Edinburgh Council officials deem it TOO DANGEROUS to enter!

Despite it being used over the summer for the Edinburgh Art Festival.

Could it be because there are only days left to object to the new Caltongate plans?

 Should this building be altered to create a huge bar/cafe and confrence suite

Instead of being able to judge the value of this beautiful building from your own experiences of visiting it you will have to rely on the hundreds of documents produced for the planning applications

This building is over 100years Old and still solid and functional (although in need of a bit of TLC) and in great demand by local groups who wish to see it returned to the community for repair and reuse. The Canongate Venture playground is needed by the community for playspace and community gardens but the plans will see it developed over for another hotel!

How to guidance on previous posts.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

New Caltongate Plans

For those of you still struggling to view plans of the new proposals here are some images produced by the development team to demonstrate the 'quality' of design and 'placemaking' however they do more to illustrate 
what's wrong with the plans!

First up The new Ark hotel from New St

the hotel will retain the Canongate fa├žade of the Ark but will rebuild the whole plot for hotel use including the 18 homes which have been left vacant for over 5 years, and create a huge hole for pedestrian (?) access.

The back of the hotel will have another entrance from the new public (but privately owned and managed) square and is a large bland 6 storey block overshadowing the new public square. World (heritage) class hotel or poor design?

18 homes will be lost (half of which are council stock) No housing (either replacement or new) will be included in the Southern Site any more as the developers claim suitable and sufficient housing is already approved elsewhere.

The private housing and social housing that developers refer to in the plans are NOT part of the new applications. There is no guarantee they will ever be delivered and they cannot be 'claimed' as benefits of the applications now being considered.

approved private housing block
private housing courtyard
Social housing at Calton Road
The private housing approved lies to the east of the public square will have a courtyard with shops and bars. Social housing is approved for 1 and 2 bed only with no amenities at Calton Road. 

Back to what the plans DO include!

Canongate Venture is no longer proposed for total demolition but plans indicate the redevelopment of this building will include some demolitions and is proposed for licensed and conference uses with new glass box extensions to the front and rear. Is this really the best design they can imagine?

Canongate Venture with hotel development over playground
No community/workshop/affordable business use is included to replace that lost in Canongate Venture.

Cranston St will no longer be realigned but the common good land and Canongate Venture playground will now be developed for 2 x 6 story hotels

This common good land is home to an old market building in council use as a garage and was previously approved for offices AND a small social housing development.

The new plans for the Arches on Jeffrey St will cover them up with a Glass wall providing unspecified 'leisure' uses with bars restaurants and cafes. 

Although the building does not extend above Jeffrey St and provides a 'viewing platform' and kiosk cafe at street level this part of the development will result in the loss of usable public space on Cranston Street which is sheltered sunny and animated with trees and obscure the Listed arches and elegant curve of the street.

The impact of all these developments on the character, quality and authenticity of the World Heritage site is significant and hugely damaging and will be seen form all angles. The scale of the changes can clearly be seen from Calton Hill!


Log on to Edinburgh Council website to comment


or write to
David Leslie (Head of Planning) and Jennifer Paton (Case Officer)
City of Edinburgh Council
Waverley Court
East Market St

or email AND


Planning Service
City of Edinburgh Council
Waverley Court,
East Market St

Dear Sirs

I wish to lodge an objection to Planning Application 13/03407/FUL and the associated Listed building and demolition applications which relate to this Major Planning Application Site and seek consent for

Redevelopment, demolitions and erection of new buildings for mixed commercial uses and hotels
at (Caltongate) Southern Site, Canongate/New Street, East Market St and Cranston St

My reasons for objecting are; 

The proposed demolitions and partial demolitions do not comply with current Local and National environmental, heritage and sustainability policies, including Edinburgh Local Plan Environment Policies Env 1, Env 2, Env 3, Env 4, Env 5, Env 6, and Env 12.

The proposed developments are of a design standard that does not reflect or respect the historic location and do not comply with Edinburgh Local Plan Design Policies Des1, Des 3 and Des 6. 

The planned uses are not clear and the development will encourage increased antisocial behaviour, noise and nuscience to existing city centre residents which is not controlled through good planning.

The plans do not adress the needs or desires of the local community and will not provide for the long term sustainable regeneration of the city.

There is not development viability provided, the plans are purely speculative

The proposed 'public' square will remain in private ownership and management, and as such does not improve the public realm.
The mix of uses as proposed will increase the excessive existing traffic and servicing pressures in the local area, causing unacceptable noise and pollution.
The design is ugly and uses too much glass
The housing to be demolished should be replaced within the Southern Site

REMEMBER use your own words/experience/opinions in your letter

Design, traffic impact, architectural quality, pollution, sustainability, employment and business opportunities, community facilities,the mix of uses and the impact on residents and other users are all MATERIAL issues for planning and can be included.

(we have now been advised the consultation WILL close on 1st OCTOBER)

It is a good idea to keep a copy of your objection and to copy your letter to your local councillors and MSP's  This is a historic site on their doorstep, it lies between  Parliament and the City Chambers and should demonstrate that new policies on placemaking and sustainability are viable and achievable.

You can find details of your elected representatives here

Monday, 23 September 2013

New Caltongate Plans - comment NOW!

After alot of time pouring through hundreds of documents we can now reveal some images of the new plans for the Caltongate Site at Canongate/ East Market St.

The developers Artisan have made big issue of having responded to previous objections and creating a more sympathetic and viable development so it is a great disappointment to see  
another bland scheme presented which is focused on providing more tourist accommodation
 (hotels) with lots of provision for bars/cafes and restaurants to provide 'night-time' activity.

East Market St/Arches before and after development

The new planning application for the 'Southern Site' covers the publicly owned Arches, Common Good land and Canongate Venture,as well as The Ark and neighbouring McRae tenements on the Royal Mile (half of which are council flats)
Planning Application 13/03407/FUL  for the Demolition, Redevelopment and Erection of buildings for mixed use development comprises
  • A Hotel over Ark and Royal Mile tenaments with double height pend, cafes/bar and commercial use at ground/mezzaine levels retaining rubble facade but no housing on the Mile.
  • Removal of Railings,playground,terrace and basement to Canongate Venture and erection of a smaller glass extension with roof terrace on East Market St and a glass extension to rear of CanongateVenture (plans indicate the ground floor to become a huge open plan cafe/bar/resturant with conference facilities on the upper floor).
  • 2 x 6 story hotels with commercial uses on East Market St over the Common Good market and CanongteVenture playground. 
  • A Glass fronted 2 story 'leisure' complex to be built over the open space beside the Arches and conversion of the Arches to Retail and Cafe/bar/resturant uses.

Hotel developments over Common Good Market and Canongate Venture playground
 NO housing to be included in this site any more, even the previous approved plan included some housing (8 flats on Common Good land and a number of Royal Mile flats retained). The focus is on providing 3 Hotels.

The plans are uninspired bland architecture and there appears to be unspecified uses for all the buildings proposed, They include lots of possible uses - hotel, club, restaurant, retail, bar. cafe, leisure, office etc - but do not define the balance or what goes where. This makes assessing the impact of the development and the traffic/servicing impossible!

The fear for many is this development will result in the destruction of this unique historic Market Street to become yet another drinking destination for Stag and Hens.
 Recent news of an operator looking to develop a 'pod' hotel for this purpose demonstrates these fears are a real possibility.

If you care what happens to your city centre then now is the time to OBJECT

 You can still comment on this Major Application
 for the development of the Southern Site on the Edinburgh Council
 Planning Portal using the Reference  13/03407/FUL.

Objections need to be submitted 

Remember to ensure your objections are considered 'Material'

If you cannot use the planning portal, objections can be submitted by email or handed in (make sure you include the reference number) to

Jennifer Paton (case officer) 
Planning Service
City of Edinburgh Council
Waverley Court
East Market St

(usually a good idea to get a receipt) 
 Email planning contacts: (general help desk)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Community Mapping in the Old Town

Community mapping is becoming recognised as a valuable tool for community engagement. SOOT first undertook a community mapping exercise as part of the action research project in 2008 and found it a really useful tool in encouraging members of the community to express their views on the local environment, identifying problems and well loved places.

The full report, including details of community mapping and other activities and research undertaken for the Canongate Project Report can be found here

Here are a couple of examples of maps produced during the Canongate Project

Its encouraging to see other organisations now also undertaking mapping exercises as a way to get a better understanding of the area and allow participants to engage more fully in consultations about the city's environment.
Edinburgh World Heritage Trust have recently undertaken a community mapping exercise as part of their Green Heritage Project and hope to present their results this summer.

Last weekend as part of the ongoing consultation on the Royal Mile Project, CEC undertook some Community Mapping as part of the activities for engagement. 

The Royal Mile team will continue with this mapping exercise visiting children from the local Primary schools and the maps are informing local street artists who are developing a new piece of work on the New Street boards .

It is hoped that this kind of engagement will lead to improvements to the Canongate, High Street and Lawnmarket which benefit locals and visitors and restore some of the variety of shops and livability of areas of the Royal Mile
In the meantime, here are some more examples of the maps produced during the Canongate Project.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Royal Mile Action

Latest consultation news......
The Council are considering changes to traffic management on the Royal Mile and are asking for your views.
A number of workshops and events will be held over the coming weeks to discuss progress on the Royal Mile Action Plan which was started last year following a Charette at the Hub in January 2012

Since then action has been limited to improving the tourist offering by employing a Royal Mile Manager Sarah Cooke who has assisted in the establishment of the Royal Mile Business Association.

The next step is to look at improving the pedestrian environment around the Mile and traffic management. Hopefully consideration over the mix of uses will also be looked at along side waste management, street clutter and how traffic changes fit with other diversions around the city centre.

On Saturday the Community Engagement Day will include opportunities for anyone of any age with an interest or love of the Old Town (including residents past and present) to contribute their story's to the timeline, participate in community mapping, guided walks and graffiti art and help guide action to improve this Historic Street for all who live in and visit it.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Mad, Bad and Sad!

Yesterday the Planning Committee met to consider the renewal of the Mountgrange plans for Caltongate by new developers Artisan.
Presentations were heard from heritage and community groups who urged the committee to work in the public interest and adhere to the most up to date planning policies and guidance and other material objections as well as from the developers representative from GVA Grimley and the councils planning officer who recommended approval of the whole scheme as the applications could not be considered independently from each other. Renewal of all the applications was needed to raise finance to allow developers to continue the consultation on a revised scheme for the Southern site and the offices.

Green Councillor Nigel Bagshaw proposed refusal of the applications to extend the life of these failed consents but was supported only by Conservative Councillor Joanna Mowett, who also declared during the debate that she had been wrong to support the original applications the Committee back in 2008, on the basis that the demolitions could no longer be justified.

Support for the approval was led by Convenor Ian Perry, who felt it was necessary to 'trust' the developer to use the renewed consents only to raise finance to develop new detailed plans for a new scheme and enable a start on developments on Calton Road not to progress any demolitions.
The applications were approved 11 votes to 2.

The applications will not need to be referred to Scottish Government for final approval.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Time for Change

The exhibition be developers Artisan certainly gives the impression that they have listened to the many concerns raised about the previous Mountgrange plans in producing a revised layout for part of the site, preserving some of the historic buildings, views and streets around the City of Edinburgh Council owned land on East Market St.

Allan Murray's latest layout for the site

The  renewals to ALL the consents is still due to be considered at a hearing by CEC's 
Development Management Sub-committee on Wednesday 20th March
This Committee starts at 10am at the City Chambers and is open to the public.
CEC Acting Head of Planning has recommend GRANTING consent for each the 15 separate applications which are listed under Item 6 of the Agenda despite this being clearly out of step with the latest placemaking and heritage policies, community development and heritage advice, and recent consultations and community engagement results.

Its clear that most of the existing consents are no longer considered appropriate or desirable, even by the developer so surely now it is time for Councillors to stand up for some democracy in planning and refuse the Section $2 applications thereby allowing the old consents to expire in October and focus efforts on bringing forward and agreeing appropriate new consents for the site

There is another opportunity to see the proposed revisions in detail at Canongate Venture from 10am till 12.30pm tomorrow Saturday 16th March 

Streetwise Soccer will also be holding a one day free sports event on Saturday the gapsite  
for more info on poster below

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

New Plans or Old consents?

There was some excitement today when the Evening News revealed a glimpse of the new plans which New St developers, Artisan REI, will be displaying to the public tomorrow. At first glance it looks like the new plans may have taken account of the criticisms of UNESCO and others over the needless demolition of listed buildings.

The developers exhibition will be held 

at Canongate Venture, New St

THURSDAY 14th    11am - 8pm
SATURDAY 16th    10am-12.30

 The new plans have been kept secret by the development team  until tomorrow to ensure 'all stakeholders have an equal opportunity to see them' and therefore were not available to the Old Town Community Council for their meeting on Monday despite requests from various heritage and community groups.
However, it now appears that demolition of Canongate Venture may no longer be required.

It has been suggested that the new plans will see the Malcom Fraser building on Jeffrey St,  another of the consents which caused great concern to community and heritage groups, now dropped from the development.

This begs the question WHY DO WE NEED TO RENEW ALL THE OLD PLANS? As most of the original consents do not expire until October it should be possible to agree revised proposals to replace them within the next 6months, or is it the developers real intention to pick and choose elements from both schemes, or worse.

Many who attended the meeting were deeply concerned that the applications to renew all the original consents are to be considered next week at Committee and that the consents for demolitions in particular were no longer justified.
It is hoped that Councillors on the Planning committee will give serious consideration to deputations from heritage and community groups and refuse the applications to remove conditions and extend the life of the failed old plans.
The planning recommendations are not available yet but with a hearing scheduled for 20th March the Development Management Committee papers/agenda/reports etc should be available from CEC website by Friday

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Time to speak out

Yesterday a new plan for the Royal Mile was unveiled which is due to go out to consultation following presentation to the Planning Committee, on 28th February, alongside the latest report on Southern Arc Development Framework.
The Old Town Community Council have organised a public meeting on MONDAY 11th March to discuss democracy, development and the decline of the Old Town as a residential community.

How do you think things can improve? Come along and have your say on recent consultations, plans and proposals for the city centre.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Edinburgh in Decline

This week Edinburgh's record of urban regeneration was the subject of attention by Professor Richard J Williams of Edinburgh University.
Disguised as a piece on why Scotland can't be a country, this article in Foreign Policy, describes the failings of the city to plan and adhere to their own policies to develop a sustainable modern city and concludes
"Before Scotland can be a country, its capital needs to get its house in order."

Whilst the article does not contribute much to the debate over the real issues for independence, the need to get the capitals house in order is now essential for the future of its inhabitants, regardless of whether Scotland votes Yes or No in 2014.

Open and transparent systems, meaningful consultation and aspirational design are all needed to improve the urban fabric of the city and support the communities who occupy it.
This can be achieved if there is genuine consultation as described in the Scottish Government's Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill 
However if the Council continue to ignore views from communities and allow private interests to dictate public policy and procedures, the corruption and malaise of speculative urban development will continue to destroy the unique attributes of this beautiful City.

The recent consultation exercise conducted for the revived Caltongate plans are a perfect example of lessons not learned.
A consultation exercise was carried out which the public tried to engage in, despite it having been made as difficult as possible by the developers planning agents.
An exhibition and stakeholders workshop were held in November/December to 'consult' with the community and seek their views on new plans to be drafted. However before completing this consultation exercise  multiple complex applications to renew ALL the failed plans (with no real planning justification provided) were submitted.
Details of the new plans being drafted and feedback from the pre-application consultation exercises were kept 'under wraps' until after the very limited time period to comment on these planning applications for renewal had ended. This demonstrates the usual tick box procedures were employed and a truly disingenuous approach to community consultation.

It should come as no real surprise that the results of the Stakeholder Workshop clearly demonstrate the stakeholders desire to see major changes to the scheme, greater community involvement in the regeneration of the area and the need to develop a new plan for the area. NOT to simply renew consents for the failed scheme to 'protect the commercial interests of the developer'.

To date the new plans remain secret, however the Stakeholder Report has now finally been published. Although it is almost impossible to find on the planning portal you can download it easily  HERE

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Mountgrange Architect critic of Caltongate demolitions

 Shortly before developers Artisan offered to buy up East Market St in December 2011, one of the Architects involved in a particularly controversial part of the scheme was heard speaking out against the demolitions and highlighting the value of this site. The need for new plans and the value of the councils assets in Caltongate are explained by Malcom Fraser in his after dark debate at the Urban Room

Unfortunately the last administration saw fit to give this valuable public land to Artisan who now wish to extend the life of the failed consents!

The Planning department have now confirmed that the consultation period/planning portal for the Caltongate renewal plans WILL close tomorrow,Friday 8th.
We expect that means midnight but you can also send an email or letter which provided it is received on Friday must be considered.

So you only have a day left to OBJECT

Some of us have been finding it very difficult and time consuming using the portal to address all the issues to all the applications and instead chose to write one letter which applies to all the applications. If you too are finding it hard here is template letter which may help.

Please personalise copy/cut and paste/ print and use whatever bits you agree with to make your own letter (make sure to date it and include your name and address) which you can then 

deliver to the planning desk at Waverley court
or email to
East Market Street Party 2006 before Caltongate was approved

David Leslie
Head of Planning and Building Standards
City of Edinburgh Council
Waverley Court
East Market St

(Please copy to planning case officers Daniel Lodge and Jennifer Paton)

I wish to lodge an OBJECTION to Planning applications
Refs; 13/00096/FUL, 13/00090/FUL, 13/00095/FUL, 13/00088/FUL, 13/00094/FUL, 13/00085/FUL, 13/00107/LBC, 13/00102/LBC, 13/00093/FUL, 13/00092/FUL, 13/00103/FUL, 13/00106/FUL, 13/00101/LBC, 13/00091/FUL, 13/00100/LBC

for the 'Caltongate Development Site', - Canongate, East Market St, Cranston St, Jeffrey St, New St and Calton Road.

All the original objections submitted by heritage and community groups to all the original applications (now subject of applications seeking consent to vary conditions) are still valid.

The original plans were speculative and the economic benefits presented as justifications for these applications, are 5 years old and clearly no longer valid or credible.

The demolitions are unsustainable, unjustified and not supported by new National planning guidance SHEP.
The application should include an updated Environmental Impact Assessment

All the proposed developments are of a quality, style and layout which will cause significant damage to the local environment, residential amenity, key views and skylines, heritage value of the conservation area, and the authenticity of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site.

The plans conflict with local and national policies on sustainable development, community empowerment and climate change.

The developer has stated the justification for applications is commercial because 'The expiry of consents may devalue the site”
THIS IS NOT A MATERIAL PLANNING CONSIDERATION and therefore cannot be used as a justification to breach conservation and planning policy by developers, just as it cannot be used as a reason for objections.

The existing plans should be allowed to lapse and these applications REFUSED as they may prejudice the development of new improved plans and development opportunities coming forward.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

How to Object!

There is only 4 days left to comment on all 15 applications (the 21 day consultation period ends on Friday 8th Feb)
Objections can be made online through the planning portal by registering (and log in) then using these reference numbers to access the relevant applications.

Hotel and conference centre

Canongate Venture

The Hotel and demolition of Canongate Venture, the Ark and Canongate flats
  1. Renewal of demolition consent for Canongate Venture 13/00100/LBC
  2. Renewal of planning consent for demolition of 2 listed buildings, 18 flats and 2 shops to provide for a 5* Hotel and conference centre (PA5) 13/00091/FUL
  3. Renewal of demolition consent for The Old Sailors Ark, 231 Canongate 13/00101/LBC
  4. Renewal of demolition consent for McRae tenements, 221 -229 Canongate 13/00106/FUL
  5. Renewal of demolition consent for Common Good Market building 13/00103/FUL

    Common Good Land and Jeffrey St Arches 
  6. Renewal of planning consent for demolition of Common Good Market building to erect 5 storey office block on East Market St (PA6) 13/00092/FUL
  7. Renewal of planning consent to redevelop Arches and erect 6 storey offices on Cranston St and 4storey building on East Market St for leisure, bar, restaurant uses (The Malcom Fraser block PA7) 13/00093/FUL
  8. Renewal of Listed Building consent to refurbish Arches and erect 4 storey block for retail/bar/returant/offices (PA7) and realign Cranston St 13/00102/LBC
  9. Renewal of Listed Building Consent to allow alterations to north gable wall of Cranston St/Jeffrey St tenements (link to PA7) 13/00107/LBC

    The Malcom Fraser block

    The Podium and office block
  10. Renewal of consent to erect Podium structure (foundations and underground car park for offices and private housing) on New st Gap site (PA2) 13/00085/FUL
  11. Consent to vary conditions to Podium consent to allow early implementation in advance of submitting details on archaeology, boundary treatments and footways (PA2) 13/00094/FUL
  12. Renewal of planning consent to erect Office block on gap site which will also house carparking and district heating system (PA3) 13/00088/FUL
  13. Consent to vary conditions to allow early implementation of development, in advance of submitting information on the proposed sustainability management system, archaeology and footway required for the office block (PA3) 13/00095/FUL

    new residential street

    Luxury flats and Canongate breakthrough 
  14. Renewal of consent to erect mixed private housing blocks along eastern edge of the site serviced by car parking and district heating from Podium. Includes, additional offices, bars, restaurants and retail units, a Public Square behind the hotel and demolition of existing flats on Canongate (PA4a) 13/00090/FUL
  15. Consent to vary conditions on private housing (PA4a) to allow early implementation, in advance of submitting details on sustainable management, archaeology, boundary treatments and construction details 13/00096/FUL
To comment by post or email, please write to the addresses below ensuring you include the following:
  • The date
  • The name and address of the sender
  • The reference number (or numbers) of the application(s)
  • The address of the site (Caltongate Development site or East market St/New St)
  • Your comments/ grounds for objection
David Leslie ( Head of Planning and Building Standards, Services for Communities, Level C5, Waverley Court, 4 East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8B

Make sure you keep a record of your submissions and copy it to the planning officers ( and and send details of your objections to your local councillors/MSPs.

Some possible reasons to object -
you think the planning consents should lapse because the plans are now out of date with the most recent heritage, planning for sustainable development, and national placemaking policies.
you think the economic benefits proposed by the Mountgrange scheme are no longer valid and a reasonable justification to demolish 2 Listed buildings 18 structurally sound and much needed homes and publicly owned buildings which can provide much needed affordable business space, has not been presented.
you believe the consents should lapse as the new developer has expressed concern that they are no longer viable and extending the life of these consents may prejudice new more sustainable and viable plans being progressed and implemented.
you believe the original objections made on grounds of unsustainable development which is out of step with planning guidence still apply as the development will seriously damage the historic, economic and cultural environment, yet the case for demolition is no longer valid
you believe the proposed development has been proven to be no longer a credable plan for regeneration and the sale of public land to facilitate the development will not achieve best value for the site or good placemaking for the City.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Time is running out!

Caltongate Hotel on Canongate
The Mountgrange Caltongate planning consents will be 5 years old this year and the planning case supporting the development is now completely out of date having been written back in 2007 when things were very different. By 2010 even the council recognised the financial failings of the scheme and took back the land.

New office block Mountgrange style

Which makes the latest deal with new developers Artisan even more questionable!
This time round the council are willing to hand over Common Good Land, publicly owned and needed buildings and homes for even less money, no profit share and on the promise that existing planning consents can be extended to increase the speculative value of the land for the sole benefit of the developer (who can then land bank, demolish, replan, go bust or sell on without undertaking any new development).

East Market St Mountgrange Style

Whilst the new developers prepare for continued 'meaningful consultation' about a revised plan for the East Market St and New St/Canongate area, the rubber stamps are at the ready to extend the life of the old Mountgrange plans.
  • Surely these old plans need reconsidered against up to date information, at the very least a new economic and environmental appraisal is needed to justify demolition of listed buildings?
  • Do the planning department have all the relevant information and if so why is it not available to the public? 
  • Why has the report from the 'stakeholders workshop', conducted by an independent facilitator for Artisan and City of Edinburgh Council not been released yet (not even to those who participated) or included in the current applications as part of the pre application consultation evidence?
Yet the planning agents GVA Grimley have only provided extracts from their old Mountgrange reports (2007) as justification to approve the Section 42 applications for renewal of the hotel consent (which requires the demolition of 2 Listed buildings).

These significant and interdependent plans, which are all dependant on the demolition of listed buildings and much needed housing for the city centre are being rushed through the consultation process as if they were minor amendments to a house extension!

An updated economic and environmental impact study is required, particularly as one of the key elements to ensure 'sustainability' in the Mountgrange plans was the district heating/ground source system which has now been shelved.
A new case must be presented to justify the demolition of listed and unlisted buildings, in line with new Historic Scotland planning guidance (SHEP) and which takes account of the recent conservation, structural and feasibility studies into the importance and potential reuse of Canongate Venture.
The consultation period must therefore be extended to allow the public to comment on these core issues

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Back to the drawing board

The SOOT space has been quiet for the last year as supporters have tried to get on with new projects and support a number of emerging community organisations. The election of a new cooperative coalition council in May promised a new approach to decision making and the hope that communities would be listened to.

Since the summer we have seen the creation of a new, legal,space for street art around the New St Gap site, with the hoardings on New St and Calton Road becoming a canvas for many Scottish artists to practice and collaborate, aswell as creating a new attraction for tourists and artists to visit for inspiration.

New St (August 2012)
 The work is constantly evolving and the site has played host to a number of Graff Jams which artists from across the UK (and some from Europe) have contributed. This return of creatives to the gap site has been welcomed by many residents, local businesses and council departments.
New St (November 2112)
 However, the listed buildings and homes which were blighted by Mountgrange's Caltongate Development remain empty and with no prospect of even temporary uses being agreed by their owners (either new developers Artisan REI or the Council) they will begin to seriously deteriorate through continued neglect.

A new conservation report has been undertaken by Old Town Development Trust, which they commissioned to look at potential reuse of  Canongate Venture, makes it clear that this Listed Building has more than just local importance. This report and the Trusts proposal to develop the Word Bank demonstrates the huge potential for its reuse to create much needed community and affordable business space.

Artisan REI who acquired the bus depot site from the administrators of the failed Caltongate scheme have been doing the rounds since the summer with informal meetings to discuss community concerns over the previous scheme.
Their agreement to allow the development of a 'legal wall' for street art, and their application for consent to allow the return of Snoozebox to the gapsite for Hogmanay and Festival 2013 gave encouragement to many in the community who had hoped that community consultation over temporary uses and revised plans for the site would this time be a more cooperative and constructive process.
However their use of the same team as Mountgrange (GVA Grimley and Allan Murray Architects) has led to fears that the same old tricks of misinformation and secret deals behind the scenes are taking place.

A 'community consultation' event was eventually held in Canongate Venture by GVA Grimley in November 2012 where the public were invited to comment on possible revisions to the plans, on the promise that feedback AND a second event would take place BEFORE any plans were submitted. However the feedback report has been split into 2 reports, the Southern Site, and the Section 42 applications

The second event is still to be scheduled yet plans to renew ALL the Mountgrange consents (due to lapse in October this year) have now been submitted which, if approved, will allow Artisan REI  a further 3 years to enact the demolitions and develop the Caltongate plans.
The section 42 planning applications are now live on the planning portal although the necessary relevant information is very difficult to find. We hope to provide more detailed information about the applications and how to comment on them soon.