The Planning & Building Standards Customer Forum 2019

The third annual Planning & Building Standards Customer Forum took place last week in the Council Chambers. We had a high response A wide range of customers including community councillors, planning and building agents, architects, developers and community groups took part in group discussions to provide us with valuable feedback on our services.

In the last year, there have been many changes and improvements across both Planning and Building Standards including a major ICT system upgrade and the introduction of a new Planning Pre-application Advice Service. We have been busy implementing two Improvement Plans, one for Planning and one for Building Standards, both making progress across three themes:

  • Leadership and management
  • Customer
  • Continuous improvement and performance

We are always trying to improve our customer service and looking for new ways of working to do things better.

The ways in which we share information was of particular interest to us this year. We communicate with our customers in a number of ways:

  • Via the Planning & Building Standards Helpdesk, which can be accessed in person at Waverley Court, over the phone on 0131 529 3550 or by emailing planning@edinburgh.gov.uk
  • The Planning & Building Standards Portal which enables anybody to view planning applications and building warrants online whenever they want to
  • Our website has a large amount of guidance for a wide range of different planning and building matters
  • The City Plan 2030 project regularly publishes newsletter & holds workshops
  • The Building Standards Newsletter
  • Community council training events
  • Development and Civic Forums
  • Committee Webcasts
  • On Twitter @planningedin
  • And via this blog – planningedinburgh.com

There was also an update on City Plan 2030. The main consultation stage for City Plan 2030 – ‘Choices for City Plan 2030’ is planed to start in December and we are currently arranging the details of our engagement events. You can find out more about the timetable and how we will be preparing City Plan 2030 in our new Development Plan Scheme. You can keep up to date with the City Plan 2030 project on this blog or contact us or subscribe to our newsletter by emailing cityplan2030@edinburgh.gov.uk.

Planning and Building Standards Customer Forum is held every year, providing the opportunity for customers and Council officers to get together to discuss our services. If you are interested in attending next year’s Forum, or wish to provide us with your feedback regarding any of the above, please get in touch via planning@edinburgh.gov.uk.

Thank you again to all who came along, and we look forward to welcoming you to our next Customer Forum in 2020.

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City Plan 2030 – Edinburgh’s Future Office Market

Meeting the needs of the office sector will be a key issue for City Plan 2030. With an estimated 1.85 million square metres of office floor space in Edinburgh, supporting an estimated 123,000 jobs, the office sector is crucial to Edinburgh’s economy.

Our Office Commercial Needs Study shows that although Edinburgh city centre is prominent, there is significant office based economic activity outwith the central area.

Office Space 1.jpg

In addition to high profile headquarters the city has a deep pool of businesses across the size ranges leaning towards smaller organisations. The average office is around 20 years old, mid-urban, comparatively affordable, and is let to a mix of small to medium sized enterprises.

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Between 2013 and 2018 a total of 88,943 square metres of floorspace was completed. Almost 70% was within the city centre. Office Space 5.jpg

Despite the development of new offices there has been a net loss of office floorspace as stock lost to alternative uses has exceeded new development. However the stock has improved, as new purpose-built offices replace older buildings.

Demand is high, particularly in the city centre. There is 538,000 square metres of office development with planning permission but only 10% of this is in the city centre.

Edinburgh’s new-build offices tend to be small, expensive co-working spaces, or large, expensive headquarters. However, most the city’s office market is ‘mid-market’ in terms of location, quality, size and cost. The continuing loss of traditional offices further reduces the supply available to that mid-market.

It is projected that over the period 2019 to 2030 Edinburgh will need between 17,000 and 30,000 square metres of net office space annually to meet demand. This could imply a land area similar to a major business park.

The study points towards the need to identify city centre locations for development or redevelopment, capture the potential of off-centre office locations and meet the needs and demands of the city’s large mid-market.

For the City Plan 2030, we have also been looking at shopping and leisure, visitor accommodation and business and industry. All the City Plan 2030 commercial needs studies are available to view here.

And in addition to these studies we annually monitor several development types across Edinburgh including, office, industry, retail, hotels, leisure, and student accommodation. Reports on each of these areas are available here.

The timetable for preparing City Plan 2030 and details on how you can get involved is set out in the development plan scheme.

Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing cityplan2030@edinburgh.gov.uk

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Planning and Building Standards Customer Update

On 30 July, we submitted our latest Planning Performance Framework (PPF) to the Scottish Government. It includes an account of the work done by the Planning Service from April 2018 to March 2019 to improve performance and deliver a high quality planning service and case studies structured around four headings – Outcomes, Service and Engagement, Governance and Continuous Improvement. It also includes statistical information on our performance.

The PPF is used by the Scottish Government to assess the performance of all planning authorities against a standard set of performance markers. You can view the Planning Performance Framework 2018 -2019 on our website.

As part of ongoing customer improvements within Building Standards, we have begun a programme of one-to-one sessions with developers to discuss issues in detail. Newsletters are also being sent out every three months to provide updates and a Stakeholder Panel has been set up to feed ideas for ongoing improvements back into the service.

We are currently reviewing how we carry out Site Inspections.  We will be talking with developers to get views and ideas on proposed changes.

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Customer forum 2018

The Planning and Building Standards Customer Forum is held every year and provides the opportunity for customers and Council officers to get together to discuss current issues.

This year’s forum will take place on Tuesday 10 September from 2pm – 4pm in the Main Council Chambers.

For those of you who haven’t attended before, this event takes the form of presentations and group discussions. We hope a wide range of customers will attend the forum to hear about the changes and improvements put in place in the past year, share views on the service we provide and discuss the ways in which we provide information to customers.

If you would like to come along to the forum, please email planning.servicedelivery@edinburgh.gov.uk with your details as soon as possible and by 3 September at the latest.  Please indicate in your response which customer type best describes you:

  • Community Council or Group
  • Building Standards Applicant/Agent
  • Planning Applicant/Agent
  • Other – please specify

We have space for up to 100 attendees and tea/coffee will be provided. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Revised City Centre Retail and Leisure Supplementary Guidance Consultation

The Council prepares guidance for the City Centre under the Planning (Scotland) Act.  The guidance is a requirement of Policy Ret 9, Alternative Use of Shop Units in Defined Centres, of our Local Development Plan. We do this to guide shops and non-shop uses in town centres including the city centre.

The current supplementary guidance for the city centre was adopted in February 2017.  The guidance sets out the policies that apply to the city centre retail core, the boundary of which is defined on the LDP proposals map. The guidance sets out the circumstances where a planning application for a change of use from a shop to a non-shop use will be supported.

Since the original guidance was adopted there has been changes in circumstances that are likely to have an impact on the city centre such as; wider changes to shopping trends, the publication of our City Centre Transformation strategy, the publication of a retail and leisure study, the future opening of the new Edinburgh St James and many changes of use in the centre.

A stakeholder workshop was held on 29 May 2019 for interested stakeholders to raise concerns about the city centre, changes in circumstance and discuss options for amending the guidance to address this changes. As a result we have now prepared draft revised guidance for consultation.

The key changes to the guidance are as follows:

  • Altering existing policy covering Princes Street to provide significantly more flexibility.
  • Creating a new separate policy for Castle Street, Frederick Street and Hanover Street which is much more flexible that other named streets.
  • Altering the existing policy covering the frontages of other named streets in the retail core to be more flexible.
  • Altering the existing policy covering elsewhere in the city centre retail core, by determining changes of use based on streets rather than units in a row.

In addition, an issue related to food and drink uses is the use of outdoor awnings and fixtures which can be considered development and therefore requires planning permission. In the past we would not support such development due to its visual impact on streets and conservation areas and its effect on the use of public space.

However, we may use guidance to introduce policy for considering temporary planning permission for high quality fixtures in the right places. This will allow us to trial and assess the effect of these proposals in certain places.

The Council is now seeking comments on the revised guidance as well as views on the use of outdoor awnings and fixtures. The consultation exercise will last from 9 August to 20 September 2019 and we encourage all interested stakeholders to submit comments on the guidance via the Council’s consultation hub.

Following the consultation we will collate and consider the comments we receive before preparing the final version of the guidance for adoption.

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City Plan 2030 – Key Agencies Workshop

As covered previously, City Plan 2030 is moving forward ahead of a new timetable to be published in August this year. As part of a continued schedule of sessions to gather and build on our evidence needed for the plan we held a workshop to share our progress on City Plan 2030 to a number of people from key agencies and infrastructure providers who we are looking to involve in the project. By involving these organisations we can have proper regard for the provision of infrastructure in the plan.

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List of key agencies and infrastructure providers involved

The discussions were based around the choices we will have to make on key issues facing the city for the next decade. These included:

  • Where growth is to be allowed and what impact this would have on transport, energy networks, water and drainage, public health, etc.
  • How to support and plan for different sectors of industry.
  • How to best deal with travel and connectivity in and across the city.
  • Changes to infrastructure coming from carbon neutral targets and technological change.
  • How the plan will impact future investment in infrastructure.

The workshop was a chance for these agencies to find out more about City Plan 2030, and for us to update them on our progress and next steps.

The event not only allowed us to discuss and take in the views of key specialist agencies and continue to involve them in the making of the plan, but it has also allowed us to take into account the work they are doing and keep them updated on how City Plan may affect their own work in the future, e.g. where better public transport or active travel routes may be needed in the future.

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City Plan 2030 in context with other plans and programmes

This collaborative working will allow us to bring together a wider range of considerations for a joined-up plan which is more efficient, effective and fair.

Keep track of how this work will progress, and any City Plan 2030 updates by:

  • Visiting the website at gov.uk/cityplan2030
  • Subscribing to this blog at https://planningedinburgh.com
  • Following us on twitter at @planningedin
  • Join in the conversation by using the #cityplan2030 hashtag

Subscribe to the newsletter by emailing us at cityplan2030@edinburgh.gov.uk

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City Plan 2030 – Commercial Needs Industry Study

Having a healthy stock of land and spaces for a range of businesses to grow is a key concern in planning for a growing city. We commissioned a study on the supply and demand of business and industrial land in Edinburgh which found that there is 1.08 million square metres of industrial space in Edinburgh across 1,214 units which support an estimated 30,000 jobs.

The study shows the spatial pattern of all business and industry spaces, not just industrial estates that we designate for planning purposes. You can see from the map below the pattern of industrial space follows the historic siting of industry along the Water of Leith, where the river powered early industrial processes before coal or electricity was widely used.

industry spread

Industrial properties in Edinburgh

One of the main findings is that the industrial stock is ageing, as can be seen in the bar chart below, and this is reflected in the industry rating of the quality of the space. It shows that most of our industrial space is at least 40 years old as 57% was built during the 1980s or earlier, and 93% of Edinburgh’s industrial space is of a very basic standard.

industry age

Industrial property in Edinburgh by decade built

But rising rent and low vacancy rates tell us that demand for space is strong. However, speculative development of new units has been slow and industrial land has the potential to redevelop for other uses, especially to new homes in inner city areas such as Bonnington. Speculative development has been targeted to the west of the city, with good access to the trunk road network.

The study signals that more flexible floorspace will need to be built and/or refurbished to current standards to replace the older units and meet demand. We expect planning for modern industrial floorspace will be a key issue for City Plan 2030 and we will be reflecting on what delivering replacement premises means for the city’s spatial strategy.

We have also been looking at topics such as shopping and leisure and visitor accommodation and will be looking to share similar posts in future covering these. The commercial needs studies are available to view here.

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Redford Barracks Place Brief – Consultation Event

redford workshop

Last week we hosted the first two of three consultation events to allow the public, local interest groups and stakeholders to express their ideas about the future of Redford Barracks and its redevelopment. Thank you to everyone who attended the events at Colinton Bowling club and Boroughmuir Rugby Club. Around 90 people came long to speak to officers about future plans for the site and many more have made comments online.

The Ministry of Defence is proposing to dispose of the Redford Barracks in 2025 creating an opportunity to knit this large site back into the fabric of the surrounding area. In order to make the most of this opportunity, City of Edinburgh Planning Service will prepare a Place Brief setting out agreed uses and design parameters to guide the future development of the site. As part of this work we are asking local people and groups to give us their views on the site and surrounding area; taking into account elements such as:

  • Housing  including affordable and mixed tenure housing
  • Routes through the site for pedestrians, cycles and vehicles
  • The preservation of listed buildings and how they might be enhanced
  • Green spaces and trees and opportunities to create, enhance and improve them
  • What other uses might be appropriate for the site

The online consultation – open to anyone – is available here.

Are there any features of the site you want to see retained? Is there any part of the surrounding area you would like to bring to our attention? What uses would you like to see provided on the site?

Please fill out the online consultation and come along to our next event at Oxgangs Library on Tuesday 18 June from 2pm to 7pm.

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