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