Junior Road Safety Event and air quality

On 13 and 14 September we held workshops at the Junior Road Safety Event at The City Chambers to show school kids how everyday activities contribute to air pollution.  The event is organised by colleagues in Road Safety and Active Travel who work with Junior Road Safety Officers (JRSOs) to help promote road safety and active travel amongst their peers.  They do this through competitions, assemblies and events in school, and help them put together their travel plans to reduce cars on the school run, reduce congestion and promote walking, scooting and cycling.

This annual event brings together Edinburgh primary school children who are JRSOs and provides them with ideas to promote road safety issues in their school and local community.

Air pollution has been recently described by the World Health Organisation’s Director General as ’the major public health issue of our generation’.  Because we can’t always see it, it is easy not to think about it.

But transport is a major source of local air pollution here in Edinburgh, and reducing vehicle emissions or using our cars less for example by walking or cycling instead, is one way we can help improve air quality.

The workshop activity used food colourings to represent pollutants in air. Adding drops of these to glasses of water (representing clean air) allowed the children to see how their individual activities including travel to school can pollute the air we breathe. The children compared their glasses and discussed ways they could reduce their own contributions.

The feedback we got from the children who attended the event was really positive and we hope it helps to give them a better understanding of some of the air quality issues in the city.

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Local Development Plan Update: Our New Development Plan Scheme

After the Local Development Plan (LDP) was published, we asked you for your feedback on how well you had been involved.  The results of this survey can be viewed here.

The Development Plan Scheme

The newest Development Plan Scheme was approved on the 7 September 2017. Every Development Plan Scheme has a Participation Statement. This sets out how we will engage with the public as we get ready to prepare for the next LDP.

The planning system can impact everyone. So, it is important that all members of the public, community groups and organisations have their say about what’s in a LDP.

Thomas Morton Hall 18 Jan 2012 2 (002)

Engagement Workshop we held for our current LDP at Thomas Morton Hall in January 2012.

Improving Engagement

This year, we have considered the feedback we received from the LDP engagement survey when writing our Participation Statement.

Following the public’s comments, we are now working towards raising better awareness of the LDP process and improving the opportunities for you to get involved with creating the Plan.

To kick things off, we are:

1) Writing a communication plan.

69 people responded to our consultation survey. We found that the majority were over 65 and retired.

As result, we now know we must find better ways to:

2) Engage with the 16 – 54 age group.

47/69 respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “I think that the Edinburgh Local Development Plan process was good“.

Because of this, we are working to understand:

3) Better ways to involve all community groups in the creation of our next LDP;

4) Your preferred method and frequency of update from us; and

5) How we can make it easier for you to comment on proposals and let you know how we use your comments.

What happens next?

We will keep you updated with the work we are doing to deliver the first LDP with a frequent series of blog posts.

Moving forward, these will begin to touch on preparing the next LDP – LDP 2.

A new Development Plan Scheme will be published in 2018 and will include details and dates of engagement activities that you can get involved in.

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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.

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Edinburgh Wayfinding project

The Council along with other key partners is working on delivering a Wayfinding system for Edinburgh, similar to other towns and cities in the UK.  The aim of the project is to encourage walking and the exploration of the City for residents and visitors.

What is a wayfinding system?

A Wayfinding system is a number of mapping products such as digital, printed and on-street maps which help people to orient themselves and navigate from place to place.  The idea is to make getting around the city as simple as possible.

Clear and consistent mapping forms the basis of any Wayfinding product and the Council has been working to create a bespoke digital map that reflects Edinburgh’s unique identity and highlights walking times, footpaths, accessible routes, travel information and key areas and places throughout the City.

The wayfinding project

The project is at the design stage and the map of Edinburgh will be completed by the end of September 2017.

We hope that the project will provide the city with a mapping resource to create a range of Wayfinding products: printed maps, on-street information (including bus shelters and tram stops) as well as on-line to make getting around the city even easier, to encourage walking and to help people to explore the city.  The mapping resource is royalty-free so can be used and adapted by others to help improve the information we have and for  communities to map and promote their own area.

What happens next?

The next phase of the work is to identify funding and partner projects.  We’ll be working on this in the coming months and will keep you up to date here on the blog.

If you’d like to know more about the project, get in touch with the project manager Anna Grant at anna.grant@edinburgh.gov.uk

Example of a wayfinding map

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Tollcross, Gorgie/Dalry and Corstorphine Town Centre Supplementary Guidance Review

What is the Town Centre Supplementary Guidance?

We produce Town Centre Supplementary Guidance for each of our town centres, that aim to guide the change of use of buildings. The Guidance contains policies to manage change of use within the town centre boundary and set out when a change to another use is appropriate.

What is a Change of Use?

The Use Class Order sets out types of use that exist in the Scottish planning system but only some of these are appropriate in our town centres.  The most common uses in the town centres are:

  • Class 1: Shops
  • Class 2: Financial, professional and other services
  • Class 3: Food and Drink

The character and concentration of uses is unique in each of Edinburgh’s town centres. This is why we prepare Supplementary Guidance with specific policies on changes of use in each town centre.  For example, the right mix of shops in Leith may be different to what would work in Tollcross.

Get Involved

We are currently reviewing our Guidance for Tollcross, Gorgie/Dalry and Corstorphine. Please take the opportunity to let us know what kind of uses you would like to see in these town centres.  Should town centres be mostly shop units? Would you like more cafes and restaurants? or how do we create the right mix of uses? let us know your thoughts!

We also have a handy Quick Guide to Change of Use applications that will help you decide what changes of use require you to apply for planning permission.

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Open Space 2021: Edinburgh’s Living Landscape

Ian Mackenzie from Scottish Wildlife Trust gave the second in a series of talks to raise awareness of Open Space 2021, Edinburgh’s new Open Space Strategy. Ian manages the Trust’s Living Landscape programme across Scotland.

The Edinburgh Living Landscape is a unique urban project, involving the Council, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, University of Edinburgh and GreenSurge.

It aims to create, restore and connect green areas in the city to make attractive and biodiverse landscapes, enjoyed by residents and visitors.  Landscapes will be healthy, nature rich and resilient to climate change.

The Grey to Green shoreline project has been run with local schools to raise awareness of the city’s shoreline biodiversity and threats from climate change. The Square Meter For Butterflies initiative looks to expand the use of green roofs.

Working with local communities, over 70 meadows have been created in Council parks and greenspaces, using a mix of species suited to the city.  Other measures include:

  • reducing how often some areas of grass are cut and allowing natural grassland to thrive;
  • mowing pathways through areas of longer grass so they can still be explored and enjoyed;
  • tree planting and creating woodlands;
  • increasing our use of herbaceous perennial planting; and
  • bulb planting.

Ian showed a map of the city which marked the best places for pollinating insects like bees, flies, moths, butterflies and beetles to thrive. The map will guide the growth of Edinburgh’s network for nature, both in Council parks and in new developments.

You can also get involved through the Pollinator Pledge by making your garden more wildlife friendly or you can suggest new sites for living landscape projects by emailing parks@edinburgh.gov.uk

Here is a short video clip from the talk:

You can also watch Professor Catharine Ward Thompson from the University of Edinburgh speak about why greenspace is good for us.

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National Clean Air Day

National Clean Air Day

The UK’s first ever National Clean Air Day is being held on 15 June 2017.  The aim of the day is to encourage everyone to take simple actions to improve our health and reduce air pollution.  To celebrate we have written a blog about the work we do as a Council to monitor and improve air quality in Edinburgh. Did you know?

  1. Air pollution increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and asthma attacks, as well as being associated with dimentia
  2. Drivers can be exposed to nine times more air pollution than cyclists because cars gather pollution from the vehicle in front
  3. Most of the pollutants that damage our health are too small to see, and they get through the gaps in simple fabric face masks

Thankfully, there are lots of things you can do to help reduce air pollution including:

  • Use your feet and take to the street by walking, cycling, bus or tram
  • Switching your engine off when stationary
  • If you are thinking about replacing your car, consider buying a less polluting vehicle such as an petrol-hybrid or an electric car

A joined-up multidisciplinary approach is being taken to address concerns about air quality in hot-spot areas across the City by the Council. The new Spatial Policy team which came into operation in June 2016 includes officers from the Planning, Transport and Environmental Health disciplines.

The role of the team is to develop and coordinate policy and projects in relation to planning, transport and air quality with a view to securing outcomes that deliver better placemaking and linkages between spatial and community planning.  Some of the actions the team are working towards delivering through the Air Quality Action Plan include:

  • Promoting cleaner transport, in particular buses via voluntary means
  • Adoption of fleet recognition efficiency scheme for reducing emissions from heavy goods vehicles
  • Improving traffic flow and easing congestion by use of intelligent traffic signalling
  • Promoting modal shift away from car use by means of an active travel action plan

The Council has also recently proposed to take a lead and work with the Scottish Government towards progressing Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone in Edinburgh.

Get in touch and let us know the small steps you are taking to improve your health and reduce air pollution in the City on twitter or instagram.

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