The Edinburgh Development Concordat

We have published our new Development Concordat which sets out how developers, community organisations and the Council can work together to achieve good placemaking.

The Concordat seeks to help the city’s economic recovery by promoting collaboration.  It builds on the values and principles of the 2050 Edinburgh City Vision which provides clear aspirations for what the city is looking to achieve.

The Concordat recognises the need for agility, flexibility and collaborative engagement between Council services, the development and business communities and community organisations. We all need to work together to address the City’s recovery.

Developers are encouraged to promote the value of early and meaningful engagement including post planning decision engagement with Community Councils in shaping and realising development proposals. Within this context, the changes to pre-application consultation proposed by the Scottish Government: consultation should be recognised.

Community Organisations are encouraged to promote the vital role in representing the views of the wider community when new developments are proposed and to work collaboratively with developers from pre-application through to post planning decision.

The Council will promote the ways that developers and representative community organisations can engage with each other and will promote a “whole Council approach” as an enabler of development to facilitate a more continuous “end to end” approach taking in all of the development functions of the Council throughout the whole development process.

Cllr Neil Gardiner, Convener of the Planning Committee, said

“Edinburgh attracts a wide range of major investments and developments and more minor applications which can be complex. It’s important that the process is as smooth as possible for applicants and that we give quality, consistent and timely advice at all times.

The Concordat highlights the need for early community engagement in the planning process.

Good collaboration is even more important at the moment and the Concordat will help us all work together to address the city’s recovery. This Concordat is about adding value and helping to create good places.”

The Concordat was approved by the Council’s Policy and Sustainability Committee and replaces the Edinburgh Planning Concordat which has existed in various forms since 2009.

Read the full Edinburgh Development Concordat here.

City Plan 2030 – timetable update

We are preparing a new Local Development Plan for Edinburgh called City Plan 2030. This will set out policies and proposals for development in Edinburgh through to 2030. City Plan 2030 will set out how we develop our city sustainably over the next ten years.

Choices for City Plan

Our main engagement stage ‘Choices for City Plan 2030’ took place between January and April 2020. We received over 1800 responses to the consultation from organisations, community groups and members of the public. The responses to Choices for City Plan 2030 were reported to Planning Committee on 12 August 2020. The full Choices for City Plan consultation responses are available to view on our website.

City Plan 2030

We are now preparing the proposed City Plan 2030. The timetable for preparing the plan and how you can get involved in the next stage of the process is set out in our new Development Plan Scheme.

As set out in the DPS, a proposed plan is now expected to be presented to committee in February/March 2020.

You can view the new Development Plan Scheme on our website.

Period of representations

Following publication of the proposed plan, the next stage of the plan preparation process allows for comment on the proposed Plan, this is called the period of representations. Representations can be submitted to the proposed plan, either supporting or seeking change to the policies and proposals set out in the plan.

The impact of the current health emergency on the period of representations to the proposed plan is not known at this stage. It is not known if social distancing and/or lockdown measures will be still in place in 2021 to enable traditional, in person, engagement to go ahead.

However, if possible, some, or all, of the following activities will be used to raise awareness and encourage people to have their say on the proposed plan:

● Launch of proposed plan

● Publicity to raise awareness of proposed plan

● Statutory neighbour notification

● Notification to those groups and individuals on the project mailing list telling them how to comment

● Staffed exhibitions in public places to raise awareness, if possible

● Drop-in sessions to allow opportunity to find out more about consultation proposals, if possible;

● Best practice online/digital engagement (as guided by the Scottish Government’s digital planning programme) which could include virtual exhibitions, a planning engagement hub, webinars and online events, and

An update to the Development Plan Scheme will be provided at the time of publishing the proposed plan with the full details on how you can submit a representation to the proposed plan.

Non-digital engagement – including opportunities to ask informal questions, telephone surgeries, printed newsletters, hard copies of documents, paper letters and engagement via other council services.

In the meantime, you can keep up to date with the City Plan Project by

● subscribing to this blog

● following us on twitter at @planningedin

● joining in the conversation by using the #cityplan2030 hashtag.

Looking back over Lockdown

Thank-you

We wanted to stop and take a moment to reflect over the past months. I think we can all agree that 2020 hasn’t turned out to be the year that we had envisaged. Covid-19 took the world by storm and as a nation we have had to swiftly adapt to a very different environment.

It has been one of our high priorities to continue to deliver a high-quality planning service to the people of Edinburgh. The planning service is a collaborative effort, we rely on public engagement, stakeholder contribution and of course, our customers, agents and, communities we work with on a daily basis. We wanted to take this opportunity to recognise your input in helping us to achieve a continued effective planning service; primarily your patience, your understanding and, your willingness to work with us during these challenging times. Though most of our work stations now look very different, this has not hindered our shared ability to deliver a service that will help to support the economy of our city and, ultimately improve the quality of life for its residents.

Thank you from all of us.

A Service Update

At this stage, we feel it is important to share our story over the past six months, how the service has performed and, the outcome of our efforts.

From April through to the end of September, we received a total of 2104 applications. Over the same period, we have fully assessed 1908 planning applications. Average determination times continue to improve towards exceeding the Scottish national average. Given the circumstances of which we are working in, we are proud of our performance.

As you will be aware, our offices continue to remain closed and so, the past seven months have been an evolving work in progress, putting systems and strategies in place in order to continue to perform as a service. As we continue to develop, we are looking into how to work effectively in this new, remote environment. At present, we are focussing on how we can implement greater efficiencies into our processes to ensure that we continually improve the service. We are devoted to delivering a service that ensures Edinburgh remains a great city to be enjoyed by all!

Decision making

To further facilitate continued decision making, formal meetings such as the Development Management Sub-Committee, have also had to adapt. Since May, to date, the DM Sub-Committee has met virtually on eleven occasions and worked on through their summer recess period to do so. Committee members embraced a new way of working and consequently, have made 82 decisions over the period which have included several major applications such as, the Wave Garden at the former Craigpark Quarry site.

Once again, we are proud to highlight that as a service, we have been doing our very best to maintain an effective planning service.

Lessons moving forward

Moving forward, we are keen to embrace this new way of working. Given the unlikely return to the ‘old way of working’, we are looking forward to being able to continue to deliver the planning service in collaboration with you.

Reflecting over these past months we have uncovered some new challenges and, lessons have been learned. As a result of Covid-19, three key lessons we have encountered which we now realise have a significant impact on the continued operation of the service:

• Rapid change and adaptation were required in response to lockdown. This ignited a shift in the attitudes towards change in the service. We used to be relatively slow to change established ways of working however, seven months on, change through trialling and embracing innovative ways of delivering an effective service is now our focus.

• We recognise the service would not have been able to continue to operate without embracing new digital ways of working. Internally, we now have a team continually investigating and implementing new digital platforms to help deliver an efficient service.

• Consideration for the well-being of our staff, our consultees, our customers and, our communities. Our appreciation for well-being has adapted as lockdown measures encourage us all to work from home. The Planning Authority’s top priority is well-being and we are dedicated to implementing measures, through our newly established well-being team, to ensure we do what we can to protect our health well-being.

For your information

There have been changes to the Authority’s Scheme of Delegation.

The Scheme of Delegation to Officers sets out the powers delegated by the City of Edinburgh Council to officers, under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and under emergency provisions, the Council’s Leadership Advisory Panel agreed temporary amendments to the Scheme of Delegation on 31 March 2020. These temporary amendments expired on 1 September 2020 and the new Scheme of Delegation comes into force on 1 November 2020.

To conclude

In conclusion, once again we thank-you for your co-operation during this period. None of the achievements mentioned above would have been possible without everyone’s input and willingness to ‘make it work’. We look forward to continuing to work with you in this ‘new normal’ and, striving to deliver an excellent planning service.

Thank you.

Guidance Updates for Design and Shopping and Leisure in the City Centre

We’ve recently updated two important planning guidance documents to better shape development in the city, for design and for land use in the city centre. These guidance documents are used by applicants when designing and submitting applications, and by planners when assessing these applications. They are good examples of the sources we use to judge proposals that come to us and to make clear what we expect of new development.

The main changes to the guidance are covered below, with a link to the documents.

 

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Princes Street – The main core of the city centre shopping and leisure area, as shown on the cover of the supplementary guidance.

City Centre Shopping and Leisure Supplementary Guidance Changes

The Council prepares planning guidance for the City Centre under the Planning (Scotland) Act. The guidance is a statutory requirement of our Local Development Plan policy on shops to guide how and where shops and non-shop uses in town centres including the city centre are allowed.

This guidance sets out the change of use policies that apply to the city centre retail core, the boundary of which can be seen on the LDP proposals map and sets out where a planning application for a change of use from a shop to a non-shop use will be supported.

Since the guidance was first written there have been changes 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. The key changes respond to these and cover:

  • Altering existing guidance covering Princes Street to provide significantly more flexibility for non-shop uses.
  • Creating new guidance for Castle Street, Frederick Street and Hanover Street which is much more flexible than the other named streets.
  • Altering the existing guidance covering the frontages of the other named streets in the retail core to be more flexible.
  • Altering the existing guidance covering parts of the city centre retail core outside of these streets by determining changes of use based on whole streets rather than units in a row.

The guidance was written with the involvement of people working in retail in Edinburgh through workshops and was opened to public consultation before being approved by the Planning Committee on 29 January 2020. You can view the updated guidance here.

 

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Leith Fort – recently completed housing included as a model of good design in the Edinburgh Design Guidance.

Edinburgh Design Guidance Changes

The non-statutory Edinburgh Design Guidance sets out the Council’s expectations for the design of new development in Edinburgh. It seeks to raise standards of design in the city by providing guidance on how to respond to specific design issues, from analysing a site, to masterplanning, building design, materials and streets and public spaces. The changes to the Edinburgh design Guidance were also approved at Planning Committee on 29 January 2020.

Following a workshop with elected members and working with our planning colleagues, a number of changes were identified to clarify and update the guidance. The key changes are:

  • A methodology for calculating density to ensure a consistent approach across the city to calculating built density. (p38)
  • Approved council guidance on public art is now included in the Edinburgh Design Guidance document. (p48)
  • Revisions to the parking standards to make their use easier and highlight where it is appropriate to differ from these standards. (p79)
  • Clarification of daylighting and key view assessment processes. (p99)
  • Guidance on designing for people with disabilities (p108) and on single aspect dwellings. (p110)

You can view a copy of the updated guidance here.

City Plan 2030 – Housing Land Audit and Completions Programme 2019

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The Housing Land and Completions Programme data on our online GIS atlas

As part of our effort to ensure we have the land available within Edinburgh to meet our need for new housing, we have published our annual Housing Land Audit and Completions Programme for 2019.

We have always looked at housing land supply, but by also looking at how much housing has been built we can get a clearer picture of where and how house-building is being held up. This video gives an overview of the findings from the 2019 audit.

You can also view the Housing Land Audit and Completions data on our online GIS Atlas, by selecting the Housing Land Audit schedule and Housing Land Audit completions tab shown in the image at the top of this post.

The key facts from this study show that our current effective supply of land for over 22,000 homes is substantially more than our target of almost 15,000 and the current rate of house completions is also above target and projected to increase over the next two years.

The study confirms the trends of the 2018 Housing Land Audit and Completions Programme and we will keep looking at our housing land supply and completions rate as we gear up to write our policies for new housing in City Plan 2030 and identify the sites where we want to direct new housing development to. We will soon start to consult on our Choices for City Plan 2030, including potential housing locations and policies, and you can keep up to date with this 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