A series of studies investigating the public life of Edinburgh’s town centres reveal how each currently functions in terms of pedestrian/cyclist movement and as a place.
Public Life Street Assessments, carried out by design consultants HERE+NOW for the Council, involve a mix of direct observation methodologies, user interviews and more focussed sub studies such as facade, land use and activity studies. In-depth analysis of this data identifies trends in the way people currently use the street environment. This has informed suggested opportunities for improvement.
The studies provide valuable information for all parties with an interest in maximising public life within Edinburgh’s town centres. They have already informed the preparation of Supplementary Guidance for each of the town centres, draft Locality Improvement Plans and a design and an improved public space trial project within Stockbridge.
Update – using the studies
One of the studies has already informed input to a Locality Improvement Plan (LIP) – the South West LIP includes reference to the Gorgie/Dalry Town Centre which was informed by the relevant study. More detailed work will be under taken to develop to a delivery plan with associated timescales.
The Supplementary Guidance, which are about to be adopted, will be used to determine relevant planning applications.
The studies will also be used as an input to the LDP Action Programme, due to be updated early 2018. We’ll share the Action Programme here on the blog and on Twitter when it’s out too.
In common with several city centre buildings, the Council HQ at Waverley Court has rooftop gardens. Green roofs on buildings have many benefits including improving energy efficiency, reducing the urban heat island effect and reducing water run off in the built environment. They can also be a really good habitat for wildlife.
In recent years the grass areas on the Waverley Court roof have been changed into wildflower meadows to make them more attractive to people and pollinating insects. Back on a sunny August day, Anthony McCluskey from Butterfly Conservation Scotland ran a butterfly and bumblebee safari to give staff a lunch break with a difference! It was a lovely sunny day and you can watch some footage of the meadow and safari below.
Our latest housing land assessment in October was the 2017 HLADP. We have identified effective land for 23,329 houses on a mix of both brownfield (55%) and greenfield (45%) sites.
Sites included in the 2017 HLADP are in the Local Development Plan or have planning permission.
The Delivery of Homes
The HLADP examines the supply of land and the expected delivery of new homes.
The output target is a five-year segment of the housing land supply target. The delivery programme is the number of homes likely to be built over the next five-years. We calculate this figure in agreement with Homes for Scotland.
Accelerating Delivery Rates
Many factors, including the strength of the economy and the demand for housing, can affect the construction of new homes. Even if we have enough land, it won’t always mean that houses will be built.
The credit crunch has affected the construction of housing in recent years. Although the country is still recovering from this, completions have doubled in the last four years. Current build rates in the city are steadily growing.
We are working to find ways to further speed up build rates in the city. The diagram below highlights some of the factors we have identified.
What’s next for the HLADP?
We will be using the HLADP to update our next Local Development Plan Action Programme. We’re also doing work to identify potential interventions to increase the delivery of housing. That will be reported next year.
Look out for our next blog post about a housing site currently under construction in the city.
Liz’s talk focused on the process of co-design with the local community in Craigmillar which led to the final plans for a new park in Greendykes. This involved learning from local knowledge and organisations to give them a strong voice in the design process and shape a new park based on people’s needs.
The engagement process for the park started before any design was prepared. At the first community drop-in session held in Craigmillar Library, people choose images that spoke to them about what the future park could be.
People weren’t asked for a shopping list of items but how they would like to use the park, so that the designers could plan for these activities and functions according to the house builders’ budget.
Here+Now did a walkabout with P5 school children to discuss their hopes for the park and the children will continue to be involved as the park is built. This will include painting colourful ‘totem’ stakes for the park’s orchard trees.
Early designs for the park were presented at a sociable Christmas event in the library with festive wreath and decoration making. The park design will include feature trees to give it a sense of place, re-using some of the planting from the temporary greening at Edinburgh Quay.
Thank you to A+DS for use of their boardroom to hold the event.
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.
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
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.