Secretary’s report for 15 January 2015

Edinburgh University Student’s Projects at Cramond

Following recognition that various aspects of Cramond’s environment and visitor facilities are in poor condition (e.g. car park, promenade, harbour-side, signage, woodlands) and that there is a need for a longer term vision and more proactive and imaginative approaches to environmental, visitor and traffic management, the Community Council approached Edinburgh University’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESCALA) to invite one or more student courses to develop ideas for enhancing Cramond and its Waterfront.

Our idea was to bring a fresh approach to the area and, through the students working with the community, to develop new approaches to the longer term planning, conservation and enhancement of the area. Lecturers from ESCALA responded positively to the Community Council’s initial approach and gave a brief introductory presentation at the Community Council’s October 2014 meeting. The student projects will take place between January and April 2015 and will culminate in one or more public presentations of their ideas and invitations for feedback on these. There can be no commitment to the implementation of the students’ ideas at this stage, but they may contribute interesting and imaginative ideas which could feed in to a longer-term plan for the area to the benefit of Cramond’s residents and visitors. The Community Council would appreciate Cramond residents’ patience and potential support for this initiative, including through providing information to students – if asked, and participating in any public meetings or presentations which may be held with the students. Please contact the Community Council should you wish further information on the students’ projects.

Vehicular Access to Cramond Promenade

Friends of the CC locality and especially those living within the Cramond Village in properties fronting on to the promenade will wish to be aware of the considerations that are being given within the City of Edinburgh Council regarding restricting vehicular access on to the promenade. Representatives of the CC and of the Cramond Association met with officials from the CEC shortly before Christmas to hear more about what had sparked their renewed interest in this matter – and what measures they were looking to introduce. A letter is being prepared which will issue to all those living in the Village (and including those associated with commercial and recreational outlets/amenities). There are legal issues involving servitude rights which may extend to some owners and residents and the implications of these need to be fully investigated before any action may be taken. Those affected will be invited to input into the considerations. The Council has been obliged to look carefully at this following complaints about inappropriate use of and parking on the promenade, because of the legal responsibility it shoulders for the promenade and in response to an incident which took place last summer where a young girl was knocked over by a motorcyclist.

Threat to the Public Convenience in Cramond Village

The future of the public convenience in Cramond (along with those in many other parts of Edinburgh) is under threat as the CEC struggles to balance its budget for 2015/16 and beyond. The CC has responded to these considerations as part of the formal engagement process which the CEC had established around the budget process. We have also written to Andrew Burns the Leader of the Council to explain in more detail the concerns which we have, why we believe closure not to be a tenable option for the area. Our letter offers some thoughts on alternative means of sustaining the toilets going forward. Again a copy of the letter will be supplied with the agenda and papers at the meeting and can be found on the website.

The Partnership Action Plan

The action plan which was presented has been further updated following exchanges with officials in the Almond Neighbourhood Partnership. An updated version will be available for those attending and copies will be uploaded on to the CC website along with a refreshed approach to all friends of the CC about how they can seek to influence and input into future plans.

Bus Services to Cramond

My October 2014 report confirmed that I had written further to Bill Campbell, Director of Operations with Lothian Buses about the need to consider what improvements could be made to the bus service between the city centre and Cramond. Members and friends may recall that our first approach had suggested that extending the route of the service 43 bus so that it came down from Barnton into Cramond would offer choice and an improved service (with the suggestion being that the 41 service change its route to use Cramond Road South to/from Davidson’s Mains).

The latest reply from Mr Campbell offers no prospect of change/extension to the service 43 but does suggest that they are looking to increase the frequency of the 41 at peak times. The crumb that is offered in the form of the increased frequency for the 41 at peak times in no way addresses the issue that was at the heart of the approach – and that is that on a bad day at peak travel times it can take as long to travel in from Cramond to the City centre as it does to fly from Edinburgh to London. We plan to write back to ask for an early meeting.

The Lyle Court Development and the Barnton Junction

In my November report I described the events which had fuelled our expectations that with the completion of this development would follow the construction of a fourth lane at the point of exit of the Whitehouse Road on to Queensferry Road. That summary covered the submission which the CC had made to the Council including to the Leader, Vice Leader and Chief Executive of the Council. On 4 December 2014 the Council responded. Copies of the reply will be distributed with the agenda and papers for the 15 January meeting and a copy will be uploaded on to the CC website. The reply does not encourage optimism that the additional lane will be forthcoming in the near future. It does however confirm that the proposed resurfacing of the carriageway of Whitehouse Road running south from the junction with Braehead Road to the Queensferry Road is included in the provisional roads programme for 2016/17. The letter, more generally, also re-affirms the significance of the Action Plan process that has been established with the West Neighbourhood Team as the proper vehicle for progressing such issues going forward. With that in mind Andrew Mather and I met more recently with Henry Coyle and had a very productive meeting including receiving a commitment that he and his team would continue to work closely with us in striving to secure the capital necessary to meet the additional costs of creating the additional lane when the carriageway falls to be resurfaced. The description of this issue on the Action Plan will be expanded to make more explicit reference to the fourth lane – as part of the measures which could be applied to reduce congestion on the road.

Planning Issues

Cammo Development (670 houses).

The Community Council submitted its response to the modified application by 5th December – the Council’s deadline for submissions. To our surprise, and that of the Council planners, and unbeknown to us at the time, the applicants had lodged an appeal with the Scottish Government’s Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) on 4th December. This appeal is on the basis that the Council has failed to provide a decision on the original application within a certain period – despite the Council renegotiating the processing agreement, which would have set out a revised timetable. Where a decision is not made on time, the outcome of the application is considered to be a deemed refusal.

This seems to be a tactical move by the applicants, as the Council had demanded more information on flooding issues and solutions to these, beyond the information provided for the amended application. The situation is further confused, however, as the Council would appear to have been treating the latest submissions by the applicant as an amendment to the original application; rather than as a separate application. Hence the logical thing would be for the Reporter to take into account all submissions – i.e. those on the original application and the latest on the amended application. It remains to be seen how this situation is handled. Also, there is the possibility that the applicants are just trying to push the Council into making a decision and they could withdraw the appeal. The appeal has been accepted by the DPEA and the Council has until around the end of the December to provide all evidence, including the community’s submissions. At the time of writing, the final date for this is being negotiated, due to it falling around the Festive period. Where the a Reporter is appointed then as a rule the process provides for them to consider all the paperwork and the case may be considered through written submissions, involving the Council, applicant and Inspectorate, with the Reporter examining all submissions by the Community Council, public agencies, residents and other parties. In addition, as this is a fairly complex situation, the Reporter may call for oral evidence, including from expert witnesses on matters such as flooding. Those who have made submissions, will be notified of the appeal and may be given the chance to make further submissions. The whole process is likely to take several months before a decision is issued by the Inspectorate. In conclusion, the decision on the current application has been taken out of the Council’s hands and appears to have been given to the Planning Inspectorate.

Braehead Farm

The Community Council made representations on the original planning application for 6 residential units at Braehead Farm (former SSPCA offices) and subsequent amendment to provide 8 units. Our representations sought protection of the King James V Statue, its removal to a more prominent location where it could be viewed by a wider section of the community and potential transfer of responsibilities for the statue to a suitable community- based organisation. Also, the CC sought protection of the public access through the site for pedestrians and cyclists. Not surprisingly, representations on the statue were treated as a non-material matter for planning purposes (i.e. not an issue which would influence planning consent); however, the submission was largely made to seek to influence the developer, rather than the planners. Safeguarding of the statue on its current site will be achieved through a planning condition requiring the developers to prepare a conservation plan prior to commencing any works on site. The Community Council will be contacting the developers to discuss the future of the statue. The conditions require the developers to provide a 2m wide footway through the site. Legally, cycling is not permitted on a footway.

Hence, the CC has brought this condition to the attention of the Council’s Access Officer and cycling team and sought retention of cycling access through the site as this route provides a safe link from Queensferry Road, National Cycle Route 1 and the River Almond Walkway to Strathalmond, Cammo, Cammo Estate, Cammo Walk and upper sections of the Walkway.

Maybury Development

Courtesy of Corstorphine Community Council we have received notification from the developers of an offer to meet with representatives of the local CCs. We remain concerned that this follow-up event to the exhibition which they held on 26 November 2014 falls short of the level of public engagement which we would expect for a PAN of this size.

Cammo Estate and Home Farm

The Community Council was represented at the December meeting of the Cammo Estate Advisory Committee. Discussion included priorities for future work, including tree/hedge planting, path improvements, boundary fence repairs and interpretation of historical interests. It was reported that work was proceeding to make Cammo Farm House weatherproof, but during this further structural damage and weaknesses had been found. The Council has still to come to an agreement on financial matters regarding the sale of the Farm House, following damage from the major fire several months ago. Proceeds from the sale are ‘ring-fenced’ for expenditures at Cammo, but the amount has decreased as a result of the fire.

Cramond & River Almond Walkway Visitor Survey 2014

Thanks to immense efforts by volunteers from the Community Council, Cramond Association, Friends of the River Almond Walkway and Friends of Cammo, 350 interviews have been undertaken over the last 6 months with visitors and local residents using the Walkway at Fairafar and Cramond Waterfront – in the vicinity of the Maltings. The survey has produced a wealth of valuable data on visitor origins, characteristics, activities, likes, desired improvements to the environment and visitor facilities, ratings for various aspects (e.g. appearance of area, condition of paths, visitor information), likelihood of additional use of a future low level alternative to the Salveson Steps and visitors’ expenditures. Analysis of the data is due by end-January and will support proposals and funding bids for future improvements on the Walkway and at the Waterfront. A summary of key results will be reported at a Community Council meeting and an electronic copy will be provided for download on the Community Council’s website.

Cramond & River Almond Way: Orientation & Interpretation Strategy

Again, due to the efforts of a small group of volunteers from the above organisations and Cramond Heritage Trust, and under the leadership of the Community Council, work has been undertaken over the past year to develop a Strategy to improve orientation and interpretation provision at Cramond, its Waterfront and along lower stretches of the River Almond – and thereby enhance visitors and local residents’ awareness of the area’s cultural and natural heritage, recreational opportunities and visitor facilities (e.g. toilets, car parks, path networks). This Strategy is also intended to reduce the current clutter of signage and replace many of the signs which have been poorly maintenance.

Proposals include more and better quality map-boards, directional signing (e.g. fingerposts),interpretation boards, website information, a panoramic viewpoint indicator for the island’s and landmarks of the Forth, events, etc.. The need for better provision has been highlighted from the Visitor Survey. The proposals have been costed and prioritised and the Strategy will initially take the form of a Consultation Draft, which will be discussed with potential implementation partners and funders. The Consultation Draft will be available from mid-February on the Community Council’s website and a summary will be presented at a meeting of the Community Council.

Macular Degeneration and Bridge

Given up playing bridge due to your eyesight? – If you would like to have a local bridge club which will be supportive to you and give you the correct playing provision, that is appropriate, lighting, large cards, no bidding boxes, please let the Community Council or the Macular Degeneration Society (0131 632 3140) know and ask for Daniel one of the project leaders or contact Rosina Archibald (0131 336 4568)

If sufficient residents locally or indeed outwith this area are interested, with the help of the Macular Degeneration Society, Bridge’s local governing body and Rosina, we may be able to start a small club locally.

Ian Williamson


15 January 2015