David Leslie, Acting Head of Planning and Building Standards
2014 was a busy year for the Planning and Building Standards service and this is showing no sign of letting up in 2015. A review of the service was completed by the end of October with the refreshed structure now in place and the new teams working with an area focus. We have retained some activities at a city wide level, including development planning (policy), built environment and place making, natural environment, service delivery and data management.
A number of significant applications for the City were handled by the service last year including the Craighouse Campus, the New Waverley proposals now underway at East Market Street and New Street (see photographs), and proposals for the redevelopment of the canal side area at Fountainbridge.
These brought with them a number of challenges but will in time bring benefits such as new homes, public spaces and employment.
The number of online applications is increasing with our 10,000th online application received last year. This upward trend is continuing with online submissions reducing time and costs for both us and our customers.
The Local Development Plan continues to make progress and with over 2500 representations received on the Second Proposed Plan we are working hard to bring this to the stage of its examination this year. The next main issues report for the strategic development plan (SESPlan) is progressing and will be open to consultation later this year.
I’m confident that we can meet these challenges, continue to deliver a high quality service for all our customers and engage a wide range of people in how the city develops. With the Development Management Sub Committees and the Planning Committees due to be webcast in the next few months, there’s every opportunity to hear the discussion and watch the decision making process in action!
The success of the service was recognised with awards for our Edinburgh Design Guidance and commendations for the new developments at Advocate’s Close and Charlotte Square. We also maintained our Customer Service Excellence accreditation.
2015 will bring its own challenges, not least working within a constrained financial position. However, we’re already making progress with major applications for the St. James centre redevelopment, the former Royal High School, Edinburgh Marina, Granton Harbour and a number of housing developments across the city. Whilst these major developments are important to the city and the wider region, we continue to handle large numbers of applications for householder and local developments. All of this reinforces the role the service has in creating great places for people to live, work and visit.
The 100 Years of Planning in Edinburgh exhibition will continue its tour around the city. If you haven’t had a chance to see it it will be at a number of locations across the city until June this year.