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.