Saturday, 25 January 2014

Decision Time for Councillors

The revised but not so different Caltongate is due to be considered this week at a Planning Hearing where developers and planners will argue to 'fill the gap' in Edinburgh's City centre with hotel and office developments.


A fellow SOOT supporter & ex-Old Town Community Councillor this week submitted a 
which will be presented to the Planning Committee on 29th Jan.


 The 'new' plans retain the massive public square and office developments on the gapsite, and both the council planners and Artisan (the developers) have consistently refused to consider appeals from architects, urbanists, heritage and community experts to rethink the scheme to address the chronic shortage of housing in the Old Town resulting from the over-development of hotels and student accommodation in the area. 

Councillors and commercial interests claim its essential to get the site moving (at any cost?) and say
"there is no alternative" or "if you dont approve it they will build the old scheme"

Over the last couple of years numerous alternatives have been suggested to council planning and community engagement teams at consultation events and neighbourhood meetings, however council officers have refused or sidelined requests from numerous community and arts groups to use or develop the council owned land or buildings because...
...the developers/administrators/someone else controls the site might reduce the land value set by the Caltongate scheme makes the site too difficult for developers to market
...the buildings are dangerous too dangerous for public access
.............and so on!

sketch by local Artist Chris Rutterford
  " This area could provide a really vibrant mixing pot for council, parliament and a creative community to mix effectively. I did some diagrams a while back, the charity who run my studio wanted to help make that happen." said Chris Rutterford.

 Numerous organisations and developers have shown interest in developing this site in a more sustainable way
from WordBank, Remade in Edinburgh and others looking at regenerating existing buildings for social enterprise to housebuilders and housing associations keen to provide new
However none of these proposals have been given any consideration as senior officers in City Development and Mountgrange's administrators Deloitte  agreed to promote an exclusive off market offer to revive the failed Caltongate scheme and so further sterilise the site.

photo from

 When these latest applications were submitted, The Old Town Community Council requested extra time/consultation on the plans and additional up to date information on the mix of uses, traffic arrangements and significant impacts of this development but received no support from planning.

 Many folks missed the short timescale (standard 21day) to object as the applications included vast amounts of documents and were very difficult to access however hundreds expressed their opposition on social media once the applications were publicised in the press the day AFTER consultation had closed. 

 However, having completely ignored objections and consultation responses, planners recommend APPROVAL of the new plans which allow for 2 additional budget hotels with Premier Inn on East Market Street (presently occupied by the old vegetable/common good market building and previously proposed for offices and a block of affordable housing) The developer claims this "will be the cornerstone of a quality development".
Clearly not the same as previous developer Mountgrange's boasts of 5*hotels then!

Whilst the planners may consider the hundreds of objections as non material because they did not submit them formally through the planning process it is hoped that 
councillors must give serious consideration to such public opposition.


this will be presented to the Planning Committee on 29th Jan.

You can also WRITE TO COUNCILLORS  directly!  

Surely its time for Councillors to step up and vote to refuse these mediocre plans and work with the community to aspire to something exemplar for this World Heritage site and promote a plan which demonstrates commitment to new policies on sustainable development, cooperative council and community planning.

find Councillor details here
Councillors on Planning Committee here

Many councillors are now also on twitter too!

1 comment:

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