CRAMOND & BARNTON COMMUNITY COUNCIL
Incorporating Cramond, Barnton, Cammo & Quality Street (West)
Minutes of Meeting held on Thurs 21st Oct 2021 via Microsoft Teams
Participating: John Loudon (Chair), John Howison (Vice-chair), Ian Williamson (Secretary), Gena Wylie (Treasurer), Sally Chalmers (Engagement Officer), Peter Scott (Planning Lead), Hamish Barrie, Kit Campbell, Michael Dick, Percy Fekety, Tom Foggo, Jean Morley, Bert Scott and Tom Wylie.
In attendance: Councillor Norman Work
John Loudon advised that Dowie’s Mill Weir and the Salvesen Steps should be added to the agenda.
Councillors Graham Hutchison, Kevin Lang and Louise Young.
Approval of September 2021 Minutes
The minutes were approved subject to the following minor amendments
- Present, third line: omit the comma and a space before Percy Fekerty
- Item 8, Airport Noise Review Panel, second line: substitute “in” for “inn”
John Loudon reported that there had been some progress with the Lauriston Eco-farm in that the Council had drawn up a 25-year lease and the promoters had started grass cutting. The lease means that AMA will not be able to use any part of the field they had intended for parking for those attending matches at their proposed international cricket ground.
The Police Report was very “thin”, but:
- Ian Williamson expressed concern over speeding vehicles on Queensferry Road
- Hamish Barrie endorsed IW’s concern, commenting that Royal High School children on the pavement were often apparently oblivious to the danger from passing traffic. He had written to the Rector urging him to alert pupils to this.
- Sally Chalmers suggested that the links at the end of the Police report were useful and had added them to the CBCC website.
Crosswinds Planning Appeal
John Howison summarised the contents of his paper on the planning appeal relating to land southwest of Meadowfield Farm off Turnhouse Road. The Reporter had invited further representations in view of the likelihood of significant extra traffic to and from the International Business Gateway using the proposed Edinburgh Airport Eastern Access Road (EAEAR) for which the Council had recently refused planning permission. JH had written to the case officer for the appeal, arguing that if the Reporter granted consent, there would be significant growth in public and private traffic on the EAEAR, Glasgow Road and Queensferry Road. Accordingly, the development, if approved by the Reporter, should not be allowed to proceed until all the proposed mitigation measures re in place.
Hamish Barrie suggested that while one of the proposed mitigation measures was an increase in the number of bus and tram journeys, this would help only those travellers wishing to go to and from the city centre. In his view most potential visitors to the International Business Gateway would want to go round the city rather than through it. He also argued that the trams are too slow and they, buses and trains from the Gateway Station all serve essentially the same destination, the city centre.
Sally Chalmers disagreed, as while they all end up in the city centre, the different modes of transport serve different stops as they pass through the city.
John Loudon summarised the report by John Kerr, Chair of FRAW. In relation to the Steps, CEC is keen to replace the existing “temporary” scaffolding steps with a permanent set of steps. Although this will not provide a fully compliant disability discrimination act solution, it would be cost effective in relation to capital costs and for the mitigation of the high maintenance costs of the scaffolding structure. Of the possible alternative solutions (a lengthy tunnel, two bridges or a tunnel) FRAW prefers a tunnel on the grounds of accessibility and long-term maintenance cost and has helped fund a detailed study of how it could be designed. However, there is currently no budget for delivery so little is likely to happen in the short term.
Various CBCC members commented on the advantages and disadvantages of a tunnel solution, centring mainly on its length and narrow width and whether potential users would feel safe when using it and also that a focus on a tunnel, after the long consideration period given to the cantilevered suspended walkway, would result in yet further delay to providing a safe and secure solution to the generally deprecated scaffolding steps. Although it may be desirable to seek wider community views, John Howison pointed out that he was to represent the Community Council at a meeting of Colab, a consortium of FRAW, the Cramond Association and the Community Council at the beginning of November. After extensive discussion it was agreed and accepted by the chair that John Howison should attend that meeting with a mandate to advise Colab that the Community Council would not support a tunnel.
Dowie’ s Mill
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) (Directive 2000/60/EC), transposed into Scots law by the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003, commits member states to achieve good qualitative and quantitative status of all water bodies, including to aid the free passage of fish. CEC have agreed to mitigate the effect on fish passage of Dowies mill weir, which they own. However, simply removing the weir would alter the flow of water in the river would result in the loss of the current mill pond and consequential scouring at and long-term damage to the old Cramond Brig. CEC has proposed solutions including a partial demolition of the weir and a stone slope downstream from the weir to maintain the millpond at a reduced height. FRAW has argued for the retention of at least two thirds of the Mill Pond and proper investigation of other potential implications of removal. These investigations will inevitably take some time.
Draft City Plan 2020
Peter Scott highlighted the forthcoming consultation on the draft City Plan 2030 over a period of six weeks from early November, although it is currently unclear what form(s) this consultation will take. He therefore suggested waiting to find out what the City Council is intending to do. In the meantime, he welcomed some of the proposals in the new Plan. John Howison emphasised the importance taking the Plan seriously, not least because he expected developers to object strongly to many of the proposals within it.
There followed a range of divergent views on the relative merits of a webinar, “live” public meetings, the use of social media and mounting a local exhibition if CEC makes the necessary material available. However, there was general agreement over the need to gather and collate local views, but first to wait for more information from the Council.
Community Participation Request
Peter Scott reported that there had been little progress. The Head of Planning had apparently asked his legal colleagues if it would be possible to use some of the S.75 planning obligations funding to support community participation but had not yet had a response.
Explanatory note: the purpose of S.75 funding from developers is to make unacceptable proposals acceptable by mitigating their undesirable impacts in ways that cannot be achieved by the use of conditions. If the funding is not used for the specific purposes for which it is given within a five-year period, the developer has a right to a refund unless they have agreed either to allow the Council more time or for their funding to be used for a different purpose. Many councils are very poor at complying with these requirements and “get away with it” if developers – especially “non-local” ones – have moved on to other projects.
John Loudon stated that he had hosted a successful “burying the hatchet” meeting with Gary Cameron, Carol Anderson, Adam Cumming and Kit Campbell. Gary and Carol were now willing to help CBCC with promulgating the results of the mediation when available. He also noted that the mediation process was under way and the mediator, Keir Bloomer, appeared very approachable and well informed.
Kit Campbell then summarised the current position:
- Although the Council had approved AMA/Bryant’s proposals for the crescent of flats and nine detached houses on part of the former playing fields to generate the capital needed to fund new pitches and a pavilion, AMA claimed to have spent this on investigating alternatives which they have not been able to progress. The community representatives do not regard this as defensible.
- It was felt that the present Development Management Sub-Committee members appear to be properly objective.
- At a face-to-face meeting with the mediator on 11 October, community representatives tabled 12 “key points” relating to the future of the Campus (given in the circulated CBCC update paper), accompanied by a lot of relevant background information. The mediator had then met AMA on 18 October and was due to meet the Almond Ward councillors on 22 October (subsequent note: this latter meeting was postponed at the Mediator’s request).
- It is unclear whether there will be any further meetings or any joint meetings with the mediator, AMA and local community representatives.
- The mediator is not appointed to make recommendations but to encourage and help AMA and the local community representatives reach agreement on a way forward. At present this seems likely to be very difficult as AMA are determined to go for a commercial development and ignore local needs.
Percy Fekerty reported that the Neighbourhood Networks group had met on 8 September:
- Physical Alliance Activity includes Health Promotion, not yet clear who takes this forward.
- Thrive Physical Activity & Greenspaces Collective includes the Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust and Edinburgh Leisure. A case study of “Health Walk Prescribing” is to be promoted to Surgeries in Almond.
- Community use of the recently opened Queensferry High School pool is managed by Edinburgh Leisure from 1600-2100 on weekdays. Daytime community use is not possible except at the weekend.
- The historic Neighbourhood Environment Programme is now managed by David Wilson. There is no new funding is available for 2021/22 but legacy projects are being continued. Barnton Grove re-design is in progress and the resurfacing at the Barnton shops should include redesigning the pedestrian crossing and central island.
- Housing Revenue Account Funds can be spent only on council housing land and not on shelters in parks, although there might be also other funding sources. Dave Sinclair said that the list of projects had to be prioritised and that walkabouts with Community Councils would be arranged.
- LCPP Subgroup on Social Isolation – new members to cover area, Georgena Wylie is the CBCC our Representative. Mapping Exercise continuing. Relationship with Gyle Centre to use as Community Space (e.g., a Drop-In Vaccination Centre). Health in Mind were providing 6-week Mental Health Course still to be rolled-out.
- Community Grants Fund: 3 recent local applications. Queensferry Memorial Pipes and Drums received £1500 partial award but wished a higher award to be considered. Cramond Play Group received full award of £944 and 30th Almond Scouts received partial award of £2000.
Active Travel Schemes
Stuart Buchanan, the Asset Manager for the West Craigs Project, says that his Consortium has Planning Consent for up to 1,700 dwellings and is transferring a 5-acre site to CEC for a new Maybury Primary School, Nursery, and Health Centre off Turnhouse Road. In addition, two 5-acre Public Parks and a Green Corridor (as per the Adopted Local Development Plan) is under construction by his Contractors. Active Travel Routes, including Cammo Walk and junction enhancements at Barnton, Craigs Road and Maybury all of which should be delivered by CEC, are not happening and are “a significant hole in delivery”. Since November 2016 all have been in the adopted Local Plan, and in the related Action Programme since 2017. Also necessary are “Safe Routes to Schools” for new Cammo Residents.
CEC has delivered some temporary cones and a crossing at Craigs Road via “Spaces for People”. The Transport Contribution Zones allow for £4m Developer Contributions and apparently there is also £36m available from the City Deal.
Consultants AECOM and Jacobs have been separately commissioned by CEC re road junctions. The West Edinburgh All Party Oversight Group hasn’t met since Sept 2020! Stuart wants CEC to get on with the LDP Action Programme and Transportation Zone promises.
No doubt Covid will be blamed for all this, but it just shows up the complete mess in co-ordinating complex development, the lack of technical expertise the Council now has without being able to recognise their own shortcomings! It sounds like the Tram Fiasco all over again and taxpayers deserve a lot better but the current Administration is clearly not up to it.
Can our Councillors please keep us informed of the response from CEC on this matter?
Georgena Wylie added that people do not know what funding is available but that Almond group mapping is underway to identify needs and opportunities and that she had submitted a successful application for funding for the pop-up café at the Kirk.
John Loudon asked Percy to liaise with John Howison over junction and crossing improvements.
Ian Williamson repeated his long-standing concerns relating to vehicle access and parking on the promenade and in the harbour area. There had recently been 8-10 cars in the latter, including one vehicle which had blocked the drop bollards. He has reminded CEC officials of the need to have better arrangements in place for summer 2022.
The TRO for Cramond Glebe Road has “gone quiet” but the care home developers are pressing the City Council for action.
There are growing concerns over the state of the Cramond Inn’s building with water ingress, some roof tiles missing and, as a result, growing internal dilapidation. He suggested that John Loudon should write to the son of Humphrey Smith, who may be more receptive to taking action.
There are still local concerns over the difficulties of arranging face to face consultations with Cramond Medical Practice staff and a perception that this is putting additional pressures on A&E services. Ian is seeking a further meeting with the Practice.
Norman Work had nothing to add as all the points he might have raised had already been discussed.
Conduct of CBCC Meetings
John Loudon suggested that there was a general lack of awareness of and interest in CBCC and asked members to send their suggestions for possible improvements to either him or Ian Williamson. In a wide-ranging discussion, initial comments included:
- John Howison: live (i.e., face to face) meetings are essential but the way in which CEC ignores CBCC is the biggest problem
- Norman Work: those community councils that have “live meetings” tend to attract local residents
- Sally Chalmers: there is a need to try to engage with those local residents who are currently not interested or who do not see CBCC as relevant to their lives. She undertook to circulate links to case studies of examples of successful engagement with local communities on the Scottish Government website
- Ian Williamson: there is a need to avoid raising unrealistic expectations of what CBCC can achieve
- Peter Scott: supported the comments from Sally Chalmers
- Jean Morley: the Kirk Halls are back in use and could be used
- Ian Williamson: CEC practices a “top down” approach and ignores “bottom up” initiatives from local communities. Sally Chalmers agreed, suggesting that CEC sees Community Councils simply as a way of promoting its initiatives
- Kit Campbell: there will be little interest in most CBCC “normal” meetings and it will be better to call public meetings at which to discuss local hot topics such as housing developments, the future of the River Almond, the public toilets and car park and the Campus. Many of these meetings should be called jointly with other local bodies such as FRAW or the Cramond Association and aim to present factual information on local issues, what CBCC is doing in response to them and get local residents’ views.
AOB and Closing Remarks
It was understood that former Councillor Kate Mackenzie had recently been admitted to the Cramond Residence with advanced dementia.
Sally Chalmers noted that CBCC will be issuing a newsletter later this month and highlighted the importance of contributing regularly to The Edinburgh Reporter. However, the copy date for it is the 22nd of each month which gives very little time after most CBCC meetings.
Note: it will be sensible for all contributions to go through Sally.
Date of Next Meeting
Thursday 18 November 2021 at 7 PM to be held online using Microsoft Teams. There will be no meeting in December.
Jean Morley is to investigate booking one of the Kirk Halls in January, any rules there may be for social distancing at such gatherings and report back to John Loudon and Ian Williamson.