City Plan 2030 – Shopping and Leisure Seminar

On 22 February 2019 we held a shopping and leisure seminar with people who work in this sector as well as people from community councils. The seminar was a chance to share findings from our research into the shopping and leisure market in Edinburgh. As with the seminars we held on housing and visitor accommodation, these events help us gather a range of views to help shape our policies for City Plan 2030.

The event included an open discussion with a number of issues and queries raised.

The speakers included Cllr Neil Gardiner, Convener of the Planning Commitee, who welcomed the attendees to the seminar:

 

Daisy Narayanan (Project Director, the City of Edinburgh Council) who talked about the progress of the Edinburgh City Centre Transformation project:

 

Keith Miller (Senior Planner, the City of Edinburgh Council) who shared the context and timing of City Plan 2030, and our research and monitoring done on the subject of the shopping and leisure market in the city;

 

and Dr Mark Robertson (Ryden) who covered the draft retail and leisure commercial needs study which was commissioned by us to inform our retail policies for City Plan 2030;

 

Part of the draft study can be seen below, including some detailed findings on the number of shops, rent and vacant units in our town centres. You may not know that Portobello town centre has the lowest rent costs but also the lowest rate of vacancy in the city, and that Leith/Leith Walk has the most shops of all centres:

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The city centre has been rated highly in surveys which were done as part of this study:

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And access to shops outside of centres was covered, with this map showing parts of the city which are within walking distance of a food or local grocery shop:

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The Ryden study includes a lot of data, but a few key points include;

  • Vacancy levels have fallen since the recession, and are below the Scottish average.
  • Although not the biggest shopping and leisure market, Edinburgh city centre ranks highly on quality. Edinburgh St James will continue to shift the market to the east of the city.
  • The reduction in comparison goods shops has been offset by higher numbers of leisure and service uses, although spending on comparison goods (which shoppers buy less often, and will compare prices, features and quality between products and shops before buying) is forecast to grow up to 2028.
  • There is enough convenience shopping space to allow for the expected growth of the city up to 2028.

These are all trends we will need to address as we continue to shape our policies. This is only part of the research that is going into City Plan 2030, and as the plan moves forward we will be getting more views and consulting on what the plan should include. You can keep track and take part by:

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Updating our scheme of delegation

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On 7 February 2019, we agreed changes to the way that decisions are made on planning applications and this has been in force from 8 February. Decisions on applications validated after that date will follow the new scheme.

A scheme of delegation gives officers decision-making powers on behalf of members. There are three main reasons for changing the scheme:

  • Firstly, to reduce the amount of householder applications dealt with by Committee to allow members to focus on bigger cases with a wider local interest.
  • Second, to give more prominence to objections or support comments from community councils when they are statutory consultees.
  • Third, to tidy up and clarify certain issues in the previous scheme such as the status of petitions and small changes to approved schemes.

These changes are part of our plan to improve our performance. The main changes agreed are:

  • Planning officers can now grant planning permission for householder development (house extensions and alterations) with up to 20 material objections.
  • Planning officers can now grant listed building consent for householder listed building applications with up to 20 material objections.
  • Planning officers can now refuse planning permission, listed building consent, advert consent, etc. for any application with up to 20 support comments.
  • A Committee decision is needed where there are unresolved objections from statutory consultees, including community councils where they have that status.
  • A Committee decision is needed where the recommendation is at odds with the views of the community council as a consultee.

We will monitor the operation of these changes and put a report to Planning Committee next year as part of a review of the scheme.

Full details of the scheme of delegation can be found on our website.

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City Plan 2030 – Shopping and Leisure

We are continuing our series of topic stakeholder events, where we discuss a key topic to be addressed by City Plan 2030 (such as housing or visitor accommodation) and invite people who work in these areas and are a way of sharing and gaining knowledge in these topics, with our next event on the shopping and leisure sector in Edinburgh. At this seminar we would like to share early findings of our market research in this sector.

This includes the work we already do to keep track of retail floorspace, empty units and types of shops. For example, we conduct a survey of all shop units in the city to look at the health of the retail sector and see how our shopping policies are working.

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All shops are surveyed every five years while the city centre and our 8 town centres are surveyed once a year.

In recent years, there has been a decrease in the number of ‘comparison goods’ shops (where shoppers buy from less often, and will compare prices, features and quality between products and shops before buying) and at the same time an increase in non-retail uses such as hair salons, cafes and restaurants.

The number of vacant units has fallen in recent years, across the city and in most of our town centres. The supplementary guidance we use to set out where and how other uses, such as food and drink, are to be allowed in our centres plays a key role in this by encouraging other uses in the right places to reduce the number of empty units as the shopping and leisure market changes.

We also review our guidance when needed and ask for your views on what kind of uses we should allow and where.

Watch this space for more on our shopping and leisure seminar! In the meantime you can keep track of City Plan 2030 by:

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City Plan 2030 – Corrected Times – Community Groups and Elected Members Engagement

(Please note – due to a mistake these times have been corrected from a previous post, apologies for any inconvenience or confusion)

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We will soon meet again with Ward Elected Members and Community Councils to update on the timetable for City Plan 2030. This will include updates on our planned consultations.

We want to connect with other community and amenity groups e.g. Residents Associations, ‘Friends of’ groups, youth groups, etc. It would be great if you would get in touch with us to book a place for your group at a session near you, so we can make sure we have enough space in advance.

Area Date Venue
NW Monday 18 February 2019 Blackhall Library, 56 Hillhouse Road, Edinburgh, EH4 5EG

Event: 6pm – 7.30pm

Registration and light refreshments from 5.45pm

SW Monday 25 February 2019 Fountainbridge Library, 137 Dundee Street, Edinburgh, EH11 1BG

Event: 6pm – 7.30pm

Registration and light refreshments from 5.45pm

NE Monday 4 March 2019 Piershill Library, 30 Piersfield Terrace, Edinburgh, EH8 7BQ

Event: 6pm – 7.30pm

Registration and light refreshments from 5.45pm

SE Monday 11 March 2019 Waverley Court, 4 East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BG

Event: 6pm – 7.30pm

Registration and light refreshments from 5.45pm

To book a place for your community group or amenity group please email the City Plan team at cityplan2030@edinburgh.gov.uk or call us at 0131 529 4692.

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City Plan 2030 – Timetable Update

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As we mentioned in our last post of 2018, we’re now looking at revising the City Plan 2030 project timetable.  We’re making these changes as we don’t want to ask for your view on the choices for City Plan until we know what is in another plan – the second Strategic Development Plan for South East Scotland.

The Strategic Development Plan is currently with Scottish Ministers.  It hasn’t been approved yet, so we’re changing the project timetable.  This means:

  • We will not report the Choices for City Plan 2030 (the main issues report) in January 2019.
  • We won’t be carrying out the main consultation from February to April 2019.
  • The events set out in our current Development Plan Scheme (from September 2018) will be moved to later in 2019.
  • The timing of the next stages in the City Plan 2030 project will be affected.

We still hope to carry out the main consultation in the first half of 2019 and will announce the dates of the new consultation period in the next couple of months (e.g. February or March).  We will publish a new Development Plan Scheme with rescheduled consultation dates and events then too.

Until then, we will use this time to gather and build on our evidence and studies for Choices for City Plan and hold further engagement events in local places around the city.

In the meantime, watch this space and keep up to date with the project by:

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Removing ‘A’ boards from our pavements & reducing clutter

 

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Since November, a citywide ban on ‘A’ boards and other temporary adverts has been in force. This is primarily to improve pedestrian safety and accessibility on our streets. It is part of wider efforts to help create a more welcoming, clutter-free city for everyone.

Environmental Wardens are working closely with businesses and are reporting good results across the city. Businesses have adapted to the ban in a variety of ways, including by incorporating advertising into barriers around tables and chairs (for which they have a licence) or putting a sign on their walls or windows (if allowed).

There are lots of places to go for businesses looking for more information on advertising or guidance to help them through this ongoing change;

As you can see from our photo gallery above, removing A-Boards can help make a huge difference for people with mobility issues getting around Edinburgh. By removing barriers on our pavements, it is hoped that people can move more freely across the city and businesses will feel the benefit from shoppers attracted by better pavements.

If you wish to report any A-Boards which you feel should be looked at by an Environmental Warden, please email us at aboards@edinburgh.gov.uk.

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Working as an Assistant Planner

The Role

I began work as an Assistant Planner at the City of Edinburgh Council in August 2016.  Over the two year programme I gained experience working on planning policy, planning applications and enforcement.  The two year programme gives newly qualified planners the opportunity to learn different aspects of planning and gain a broad range of experience to gain chartered membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).  This could include working on masterplans, urban design projects and using the Place Standard.

Place Standard

The Job

Whilst working on planning policy I worked on updates to planning guidance, undertook research into Short Stay Commercial Visitor Accommodation and wrote Planning Committee reports.  I also helped to designate Restalrig as Edinburgh’s 50th conservation area, working with community groups and members of the public on drafting the Character Appraisal, preparing consultation materials, and meeting community groups.

In my second year I moved to development management and enforcement. I gained experience of processing local planning applications, listed building consents and investigating breaches of planning control.  I also provided planning advice at the help desk.  The work is varied and interesting and gives you the opportunity to influence development in the capital city.

Planning Helpdesk

Learning, Development & Mentoring

Regular training on a variety of topics is provided to support learning and development.  Assistant Planner’s are also given a place at the RTPI Young Planner’s Conference.  As well as training, I was supported through the RTPI Assessment of Professional Competence process by a mentor.  We met on a monthly basis to monitor my progress with my logbook and ensure I was receiving sufficient experience. My mentor hugely supporting me in my submission and I secured chartered membership of the RTPI last year.

Opportunities

Since completing the two year programme as an Assistant Planner I was successful in obtaining a permanent position as a Planning Officer within the Householder and Enforcement team.  I have subsequently been given the opportunity to work in the City Centre Major Developments team.  There are regular opportunities to work in different areas and get varied work experience, making the Edinburgh planning service a great place to start your career in planning!

The posts for four Assistant Planning Officers are now being advertised. Closing date 18 January 2019.

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