Development in the Countryside and Green Belt Supplementary Guidance

Living in Edinburgh, we’re surrounded by a band of countryside and green belt. We want to make sure that this natural heritage of ours is protected and enhanced, so, we control what kind of development is allowed in these areas.

development in the CS and GB

The Edinburgh Local Development Plan (LDP) replaced the Edinburgh City Local Plan and the Rural West Edinburgh Local Plan in 2016. From the LDP we now have one single Policy across our boundary, Env 10, that deals with ‘Development in the Countryside and Green Belt’.dev in C and GB cover

We first published supplementary guidance for this Policy in 2007. Recently, we’ve updated this guidance to make sure it reflects our current practice.

You can have a read of our refresh here. The revised guidance should help all users of the LDP understand Policy Env 10.

Some key changes following our redraft include:

  • a new layout;
  • clarification as to when new buildings will be allowed in the countryside and green belt;
  • additional criteria to be met when replacing low quality buildings;
  • further information about ancillary uses and energy development; and
  • guidance about materials and high quality design, taken from the updated Edinburgh Design Guidance.
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Great Green Roof! City centre rooftop safari filmed at Council HQ

In common with several city centre buildings, the Council HQ at Waverley Court has rooftop gardens.  Green roofs on buildings have many benefits including improving energy efficiency, reducing the urban heat island effect and reducing water run off in the built environment.  They can also be a really good habitat for wildlife.

In recent years the grass areas on the Waverley Court roof have been changed into wildflower meadows to make them more attractive to people and pollinating insects.  Back on a sunny August day, Anthony McCluskey from Butterfly Conservation Scotland ran a butterfly and bumblebee safari to give staff a lunch break with a difference!  It was a lovely sunny day and you can watch some footage of the meadow and safari below.

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Housing Land Audit and Delivery Programme 2017

The Supply of Land

The Council use something called the Housing Land Audit and Delivery Programme (HLADP) to assess the supply of effective land for housing in Edinburgh.

What is effective land?

Effective land must be free of any constraints that could prevent the building of homes. These constraints can include:

  • who owns the land;
  • contamination;
  • how easily the land can be sold;
  • infrastructure (including roads and schools for example) and;
  • how the land is currently used or has been used in the past.

The Strategic Development Plan for South East Scotland sets out how many new homes the city needs. This figure is currently 20,222 to be built by 2026.

Our latest housing land assessment in October was the 2017 HLADP. We have identified effective land for 23,329 houses on a mix of both brownfield (55%) and greenfield (45%) sites.

Sites included in the 2017 HLADP are in the Local Development Plan or have planning permission.

HLADP MAP

The Delivery of Homes

The HLADP examines the supply of land and the expected delivery of new homes.

table for blog

The output target is a five-year segment of the housing land supply target. The delivery programme is the number of homes likely to be built over the next five-years. We calculate this figure in agreement with Homes for Scotland.

Accelerating Delivery Rates

Many factors, including the strength of the economy and the demand for housing, can affect the construction of new homes. Even if we have enough land, it won’t always mean that houses will be built.

The credit crunch has affected the construction of housing in recent years. Although the country is still recovering from this, completions have doubled in the last four years. Current build rates in the city are steadily growing.

We are working to find ways to further speed up build rates in the city. The diagram below highlights some of the factors we have identified.

HLADP table

What’s next for the HLADP?

We will be using the HLADP to update our next Local Development Plan Action Programme. We’re also doing work to identify potential interventions to increase the delivery of housing. That will be reported next year.

Look out for our next blog post about a housing site currently under construction in the city.

 

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Open Space 2021: Co-design of a new community park for Greendykes

Liz Thomas from Here + Now CIC gave the third presentation in a series of talks to raise awareness of Open Space 2021, Edinburgh’s new Open Space Strategy.

Liz’s talk focused on the process of co-design with the local community in Craigmillar which led to the final plans for a new park in Greendykes. This involved learning from local knowledge and organisations to give them a strong voice in the design process and shape a new park based on people’s needs.

The engagement process for the park started before any design was prepared. At the first community drop-in session held in Craigmillar Library, people choose images that spoke to them about what the future park could be.

People weren’t asked for a shopping list of items but how they would like to use the park, so that the designers could plan for these activities and functions according to the house builders’ budget.

Here+Now did a walkabout with P5 school children to discuss their hopes for the park and the children will continue to be involved as the park is built. This will include painting colourful ‘totem’ stakes for the park’s orchard trees.

Early designs for the park were presented at a sociable Christmas event in the library with festive wreath and decoration making. The park design will include feature trees to give it a sense of place, re-using some of the planting from the temporary greening at Edinburgh Quay.

Thank you to A+DS for use of their boardroom to hold the event.

You can watch a short video clip from the talk.

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50 Years of Conservation Areas

Why do we designate conservation areas?

It is 50 years since the Civic Amenities Act 1967 introduced the concept of protecting the character of areas of historic and architectural interest by the designation of conservation areas

The Edinburgh Local Development Plan, adopted in 2016, states that an ongoing review of conservation areas will consider changes to boundaries, opportunities for enhancement, and the designation of new conservation areas. Conservation area status brings a number of special controls including:

  • The demolition of unlisted buildings requires Conservation Area Consent;
  • Some permitted development rights are removed;
  • Alterations to windows are also controlled in conservation areas in terms of the Council’s guidelines; and
  • Works to trees are controlled.

Where are Edinburgh’s conservation areas?

There are currently 49 conservation areas in Edinburgh, including city centre areas, Victorian suburbs and former villages. Each conservation area has its own unique character and appearance. Examples include the Colonies, Dean, Old Town, New Town and South Queensferry Conservation area. The map below shows all our conservation areas:

Conservation Area

Development in Conservation Areas

The designation of a conservation area is not a barrier to all development. Character appraisals are produced to help manage change.  These set out what makes an area special and informs decisions on proposals that may affect the character of an area.  This ensures that development sustains and respects the qualities and special characteristics of the area.  All new development should respect, enhance and provide a positive impact on the area and physical land use change should be based on an understanding of the historic and urban design context.

Future conservation areas

The planning service is considering the designation of Restalrig as a conservation area. The proposed conservation area would include St. Margaret’s Parish Church and surrounding streets. The area has a long and interesting history and the designation would be a way of acknowledging its architectural and historic importance.  As the 50th conservation area in Edinburgh, it would also be an appropriate way to mark the 50 years since the Civic Amenities Act.

You can give us your views about the proposed designation of Restalrig as a conservation area from 6 – 30 October 2017.

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Junior Road Safety Event and air quality

On 13 and 14 September we held workshops at the Junior Road Safety Event at The City Chambers to show school kids how everyday activities contribute to air pollution.  The event is organised by colleagues in Road Safety and Active Travel who work with Junior Road Safety Officers (JRSOs) to help promote road safety and active travel amongst their peers.  They do this through competitions, assemblies and events in school, and help them put together their travel plans to reduce cars on the school run, reduce congestion and promote walking, scooting and cycling.

This annual event brings together Edinburgh primary school children who are JRSOs and provides them with ideas to promote road safety issues in their school and local community.

Air pollution has been recently described by the World Health Organisation’s Director General as ’the major public health issue of our generation’.  Because we can’t always see it, it is easy not to think about it.

But transport is a major source of local air pollution here in Edinburgh, and reducing vehicle emissions or using our cars less for example by walking or cycling instead, is one way we can help improve air quality.

The workshop activity used food colourings to represent pollutants in air. Adding drops of these to glasses of water (representing clean air) allowed the children to see how their individual activities including travel to school can pollute the air we breathe. The children compared their glasses and discussed ways they could reduce their own contributions.

The feedback we got from the children who attended the event was really positive and we hope it helps to give them a better understanding of some of the air quality issues in the city.

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Local Development Plan Update: Our New Development Plan Scheme

After the Local Development Plan (LDP) was published, we asked you for your feedback on how well you had been involved.  The results of this survey can be viewed here.

The Development Plan Scheme

The newest Development Plan Scheme was approved on the 7 September 2017. Every Development Plan Scheme has a Participation Statement. This sets out how we will engage with the public as we get ready to prepare for the next LDP.

The planning system can impact everyone. So, it is important that all members of the public, community groups and organisations have their say about what’s in a LDP.

Thomas Morton Hall 18 Jan 2012 2 (002)

Engagement Workshop we held for our current LDP at Thomas Morton Hall in January 2012.

Improving Engagement

This year, we have considered the feedback we received from the LDP engagement survey when writing our Participation Statement.

Following the public’s comments, we are now working towards raising better awareness of the LDP process and improving the opportunities for you to get involved with creating the Plan.

To kick things off, we are:

1) Writing a communication plan.

69 people responded to our consultation survey. We found that the majority were over 65 and retired.

As result, we now know we must find better ways to:

2) Engage with the 16 – 54 age group.

47/69 respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “I think that the Edinburgh Local Development Plan process was good“.

Because of this, we are working to understand:

3) Better ways to involve all community groups in the creation of our next LDP;

4) Your preferred method and frequency of update from us; and

5) How we can make it easier for you to comment on proposals and let you know how we use your comments.

What happens next?

We will keep you updated with the work we are doing to deliver the first LDP with a frequent series of blog posts.

Moving forward, these will begin to touch on preparing the next LDP – LDP 2.

A new Development Plan Scheme will be published in 2018 and will include details and dates of engagement activities that you can get involved in.

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