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.

Housing Land Audit and Delivery Programme 2017

The Supply of Land

The Council use something called the Housing Land Audit and Delivery Programme (HLADP) to assess the supply of effective land for housing in Edinburgh.

What is effective land?

Effective land must be free of any constraints that could prevent the building of homes. These constraints can include:

  • who owns the land;
  • contamination;
  • how easily the land can be sold;
  • infrastructure (including roads and schools for example) and;
  • how the land is currently used or has been used in the past.

The Strategic Development Plan for South East Scotland sets out how many new homes the city needs. This figure is currently 20,222 to be built by 2026.

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.

HLADP MAP

The Delivery of Homes

The HLADP examines the supply of land and the expected delivery of new homes.

table for blog

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.

HLADP table

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.

 

Planning Committee Workshop 3 September 2015

Committee tour 2015 f cover
Planning Committee Tour 2015

The Planning Committee Tour is part of the committee training programme which comprises formal workshops and awareness raising sessions as well as a ‘field trip’ style committee tour. Representatives from the Urban Design Panel and partners such as Historic Scotland and the Cockburn Association are also invited along.

Each year the tour is based around a different theme. In previous years these have included retail, housing and street design with presentations from various people involved in the developments.

This year’s Annual Planning Committee Tour theme was ‘Building Better Places’. We visited a range of new developments including mixed use developments, student housing, a hotel, housing and a care home with the aim of looking at what makes successful places. Agents, developers and managers of the various sites were present to provide a presentation and a tour of the site, along with the case officer who dealt with the development. Each site was then assessed against the six qualities of a successful place (defined in Scottish Planning Policy).

4 December 2014 Planning Committee

At our meeting on 4 December, the Planning Committee approved an Issues Paper on Student Housing.  This will be subject to formal consultation and will inform the preparation of revised planning guidance.  This will assist with the implementation of policies to manage the location of purpose-built student accommodation in the city.

Student housing Fountainbridge
Student housing Fountainbridge

In addition to this it was agreed that a review of Housing in Multiple Occupation (HMO) would take the form of a joint consultation between Licensing and Planning.  Following this agreement, I will be having discussions on how this will be done with the Convener and Vice Convener of the Regulatory Committee in the coming months.

Southfield Estate
Southfield Estate

 

At the same meeting, the committee agreed that, after consultation with the local community, it would not proceed with the designation of the Southfield Estate as a conservation area.  While it was accepted that the estate is a good example of 1960s housing design, the accumulation of alterations coupled with a lack of local support for conservation area status meant that enhancement and improvement of the area would be very difficult to achieve.  For those reasons the committee agreed not to support the proposal at this time.

All the Planning Committee reports can be read on the Council’s website.

Councillor Ian Perry

Convenor of the Planning Committee

19 June 2014 Planning Committee: second proposed Local Development Plan

Edinburgh is a successful, growing city but this brings a huge demand for places where people can live.  At our meeting on 19 June 2014, the Planning Committee approved the Second Proposed Local Development Plan which has a clear aim of supporting the growth of the city economy and increasing the number of new homes being built.  There will be an opportunity for people to formally comment on the Plan in August and I will ensure that this process is made as easy as possible.

74% of the homes in the Proposed Plan is expected to be built on brownfield land and the Committee has agreed to explore ways to bring these development sites forward and maximise the contribution they make to our housing supply.  However, there is not enough brownfield land to meet the city’s housing need and the Plan does propose that some Green Belt land is released for development.  There has been considerable objection to these proposals and the concerns of local communities were clearly in the mind of Committee members when coming to the decision.  In particular, the potential impact on road junctions and congestion, as well as promoting the use of sustainable transport modes, are issues that we must take into account when moving forward.

Approving the Proposed Plan at the meeting gives the Council the best chance of preventing ad hoc green field developments in locations where we have no control.  However, the Committee has asked that further analysis of a potential housing site to the west of Edinburgh Park is also undertaken.

All the Planning Committee reports, including the Capital Coalition motion, are available online.

Councillor Ian Perry

Convener of the Planning Committee