Edinburgh’s Proposed Low Emission Zone Consultation

Last week we opened a consultation on Edinburgh’s Proposed Low Emission Zone.

Low Emission Zones (LEZs) aim to reduce air pollution, since it presents a significant threat to public health. It is especially harmful to young children, the elderly and those suffering from pre-existing conditions, including heart and lung diseases.

We last updated you on the proposed LEZ on the Planning Edinburgh Blog back in December 2020.

They are being introduced across Scotland’s four largest cities: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee in response to dangerous levels of air pollution generated by road traffic.

LEZs improve public health by discouraging the most polluting vehicles from entering an area. Benefits of this Zone will extend beyond the city centre by improving air quality, encouraging more sustainable travel and supporting the reduction of greenhouse gases across the city.

You can use the national vehicle checker to see if your vehicle is likely to meet the minimum emission standards.

The LEZ is planned to start the LEZ on 31st May 2022, however enforcement would not begin until 1st June 2024 – a ‘grace period’ of 2 years, which aims to help individuals and organisations to get ready.

Some exemptions will apply to the LEZ rules for example, disabled persons (including blue badge holders), historic vehicles and emergency vehicles as well as others outlined in the ‘Proposal to Make a LEZ’ consultation document.

The Council also has the powers to consider local ‘time-limited’ exemptions in exemptional and unique circumstances.

All details of the proposed LEZ are outlined in full in the ‘Proposal to Make a LEZ’ consultation document. This contains the following information:

  • Edinburgh’s LEZ Objectives and why we think the LEZ is required and appropriate
  • The proposed LEZ start date, operation times and grace period
  • The scope of vehicle types that will be included in the LEZ
  • Exemptions
  • Penalties
  • Map and a list of roads included in the LEZ

The Proposed LEZ will align with the Councils;

Why we are consulting

We are seeking views on the following proposed aspects of the Edinburgh LEZ:

  • city centre zone boundary
  • 2 -year grace period
  • local exemptions and considerations for impacted groups

We are also seeking to understand knowledge of LEZs and LEZ related support funds and those available for other sustainable transport options. The consultation period is running for 12 weeks, from the 28th June 2021 and closing on 20th September 2021.

Responses, comments or feedback can also be emailed to: low.emission.zone@edinburgh.gov.uk,

or posted to: Low Emission Zone, Waverley Court G3, East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BG

Depending on the volume of feedback received, it is hoped that a final LEZ scheme can be formally published towards the end of 2021 and agreed by the Council and Scottish Ministers early in 2022 before it is implemented in May 2022.

Scottish Design Awards

This year’s Scottish Design Awards is to be held on the 15 July. Open to all architects, engineers, graphic, interior and digital designers, the awards seek to serve as a champion of best practice, sustainability and innovation.

Last September there were a lot of Edinburgh schemes among the winners at the 2020 Awards.

Here is a quick look back at some of the developments in Edinburgh which were among last year’s winners.

If you want to take a deeper look into the details, the Planning Portal provides all the plans, drawings and related reports.

Edinburgh Printmakers (Planning Reference 15/03129/FUL)

Award Winner (Architecture – Building Re-Use)

This category C listed 19th century building was once home to the famous North British Rubber Company and McEwan’s Fountain Brewery until its closure in 2005 after which the site lay vacant for over a decade. An application for Planning Permission was submitted in July 2015 to convert the C Listed former offices into a creative hub for the Edinburgh Printmakers.

The site, within the Fountainbridge Development Brief was identified as being part of a wider strategy to re-establish a community with mixed uses and with the intention of safeguarding and reusing the few remaining heritage assets.

View all the drawing, plans & details on the Planning Portal

Bridgend Community Farmhouse (Planning Reference 15/00235/FUL)

Award (Architecture – Regeneration)

This project was led by a small voluntary community organisation which came together to work towards the renovation of the farmhouse for community ownership. The conversion was from a vacant farmhouse into a cafe and kitchen with a teaching area on the ground floor. On the first floor an exhibition area and meeting space was formed. 

The land to the rear of the farmhouse was split into two areas. Firstly the garden area was retained providing space for a kitchen garden and outdoor workshops. Secondly the rear courtyard area was hard landscaped with a paved terrace next to the farmhouse and a paved walkway along the front of the workshops.

View all the drawing, plans & details on the Planning Portal

Greendykes Phase G (Planning Reference 16/04427/AMC)

Commendation (Architecture – Affordable Housing)

A phase of 75 new homes for social and mid-market rent in Craigmillar. The masterplan was previously approved (Reference 05/01358/OUT)

The site is located on the east side of Greendykes Avenue (part of which was renamed Tudsbery Avenue) and is bounded by Greendykes Terrace (part of which was renamed Matthew Street) to the north, Greendykes Loan to the south and Greendykes Drive to the east. The site was previously housing which had been demolished.

View all the drawing, plans & details on the Planning Portal

Market Street Hotel (Planning Reference 14/04962/FUL)

Award (Commercial/Office/Hotel Building or Project)

Part of an important façade where Old Town meets New Town, the hotel sits right in the centre of Edinburgh at an entrance to Waverley Station. The restricted site had been undeveloped for over 50 years.

View all the drawing, plans & details on the Planning Portal

Global Research Innovation and Discovery (GRID) (Heriot Watt University)  (Planning Reference 17/03367/FUL)

Commendation (Architecture – Education Building or Project)

The Global Research Innovation and Discovery (GRID) teaching facility was designed specifically to promote collaboration between departments, and to create cohesion between academic disciplines, industry partners and the global community. It is focussed on subjects such as Engineering and Computer Science.

The building is the first in the Heriot Watt campus to engage its Lochside setting and offers access to the water’s edge via ramped terraces. Student well-being was designed into the project from the outset, influencing colours, materials & design.

View all the drawing, plans & details on the Planning Portal

Other nominated Edinburgh schemes included:

Kings Stables Road (Planning Reference 15/05715/FUL)

The Registers (Planning Reference 15/02788/FUL)

Buchan House  (Planning Reference 17/03375/FUL)

Code Pod Hostel – The Court (Planning Reference 18/01505/FUL)

Calton Hill City Observatory (Planning Reference 15/01828/FUL)

Granton WaterfrontDevelopment Framework Report

Clean Air Day

Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK.  Poor air quality causes heart and lung disease and is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development.

Thursday 17 June is Clean Air Day – the UK’s largest air pollution campaign that aims to bring people together to build awareness of the actions we can all do to tackle it.

Planning has an important role to play in this. Here in Edinburgh, we are setting out actions in strategies and plans to help tackle this, for example in our; 

The Clean Air Day campaign website has a wealth of ideas and ready-made materials to make it easy to get involved.

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.

A Christmas note

Here we are, Christmas 2020. The markets are closed, we aren’t gathering for our usual Christmas parties and fireworks will not adorn the sky however, we do have the opportunity to reflect on what we have come through this year and lessons learned.

Despite the unexpected challenges we have all faced this year; as a service, as a city, we have continued to press on. I’m sure you will all agree that 2020 has been difficult and such circumstances have forced radical change. As a service, the way in which we work on a daily basis has significantly altered. A service of over 100 people shift from a safe office environment to one which offered no access to that space we’ve been used to; instead we work from our kitchen tables, our studies, our dens, our bedrooms, our garden sheds.

Planning Officer fulfilling duties for the Service

When the announcement back in March was made to pack our desks and take our laptops home, reality struck, and we realised radical change and adaptation was required to deliver the same level of service. New policies and procedures as well as new I.T. systems and software have been implemented to enable the service to continue to function. Our dedicated staff have quickly adapted to new ways of working whilst balancing a very different home life.

Post Covid-19 Planning Office

As highlighted in our time performance blog, we are beginning to see the fruits of our labour. The changes we have implemented and efforts from all of those who engage with the service, are beginning to see improvements. However, the positive results don’t end with improved time performance within the service. We are proud of progress made on major projects which will play their part in building a positive future for the city. Recent updates include the City Plan 2030 and Low Emission Zones.

Quarter Mile development, Edinburgh.

It is only from the dedication of our staff, the patience and support of our customers, stakeholders and communities, that we have managed to continue to deliver and improve the service. Once again, we would like to sincerely thank everyone for their efforts in helping the service through this challenging time and we ask that as we move forward into a new year, you continue to work with us as we continue to implement changes to improve the service for everyone.

To this end, 2020 has been a challenging year, a year of great sadness, frustration and, uncertainty however, let us reflect on the good, focus on our efforts and, recognise our achievements. 2020 has been a year where we have been given the opportunity to appreciate a way of life we took for granted in our 21st century existence however, we have proven to ourselves that we have what it takes to adapt to a new and strange environment, and we have the capacity to succeed!

Whilst we all undergo the necessary Covid-19 restrictions, we hope that as we enter the new year, we all continue to adapt and make the best of this new environment.

Finally, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year from all of us here in the Planning Service.

A new way of working

In case you missed them, some further updates:

A new way to pay, place briefs, guidance updates, character appraisals, service improvements