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.

Help us Celebrate World Heritage Day 2019 in the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

world-heritage-day-2018
Image © HES: World Heritage Day 2018, Kelvingrove Museum and Gallery, Glasgow

If you are passing by the Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile on Thursday 18 April, come in and explore the Our World Heritage exhibition which gives visitors an insight into what makes Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site, and each of Scotland’s other World Heritage Sites so special and why they are internationally recognised.

After you have visited the exhibition why not stay on for a variety of fun and interesting activities on offer on World Heritage Day:

  • Discover more about real people who lived in Old and New Towns of Edinburgh in the 18th century through our Auld Reekie handling box
  • Try out brass rubbing
  • Make your very own mini 18th century replica sedan chair
  • Visit our World Heritage stall to learn about all of Scotland’s World Heritage Sites
  • To further celebrate World Heritage Day, Edinburgh World Heritage will host their annual World Heritage Day lecture. This year the pre-eminent historian Professor Sir Tom Devine, will deliver ‘Victorian Edinburgh Powerhouse of the Empire?’ For further details please visit the EWH website

Councillor Neil Gardiner, Planning Convener, said: “We’re really proud of our World Heritage Sites in Edinburgh. I would encourage residents and visitors alike to pop in to the Tron Kirk and learn more about our city’s rich heritage. There’s lots of activities planned for all ages and its events like this that help encourage us all to make sure we look after these historic sites for generations to come.”

Friendly and knowledgeable staff from Historic Environment Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council will be on hand to have a chat or answer any questions.

Drop-in from 10am to 4pm on 18 April to enjoy the above activities.

The exhibition is open during the Tron Kirk’s normal opening times.

World Heritage at the Meadows Festival: 2-3 June 2018

It’s almost the Meadows Festival and for the third year, the World Heritage Team will have a stall to promote the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site.

At previous Meadows Festivals we spoke to people about the Management Plan for the Site, so this is a chance to see how this feedback has been turned into actions for the next five years….

World Heritage at the Meadows 2017

We’ll have information about the Site and activities for our younger visitors.  We’re celebrating the Year of Young People with a specially designed game – ‘Auld Reekie Through the Ages’ – a big box of 18th and 19th Century objects which help tell the stories of characters and places that shaped the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh.

Auld Reekie Through the Ages. Image © Historic Environment Scotland

We hope to see you there and fingers crossed for some sunshine!

Strategy for Setted Streets

Stone setts add significant historic and cultural value to the streets of Edinburgh and are an important feature of our cityscape.

The City of Edinburgh Council has a duty to protect the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site, Conservation Areas and other historic parts of the city. This protection includes the setting of Edinburgh’s many listed buildings, where setted streets are an integral part of their identity and authenticity.

When they are not properly maintained, setted streets can have implications for walking, cycling and driving. Damaged setts are often replaced with alternative materials like tarmac as a temporary solution. This can result in an unsightly and uncared for appearance.

We are working in partnership with Edinburgh World Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland to develop a strategy for the protection and maintenance of setted streets.

Have your say

To help inform the strategy we’d like to know what you think about setted streets and their value to the city. We are also interested to know what issues you think setted streets can have on our movement.

You can give us your views until Wednesday 11 October 2017.

World Heritage and Conservation Areas at the Meadows Festival – 3 and 4 June 2017

World Heritage at the Meadows Festival

This weekend is the Meadows Festival!  The World Heritage Team will have a stall to promote the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site.  There will be information about the Site with cool maps, information leaflets on conservation of historic properties and activities for our younger visitors.  We’ll be at the festival on both days and are keen to get your views on the draft management plan for the World Heritage Site.

Fingers crossed for some sunshine and we hope to see you there!