In light of the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, the restrictions on movement placed on the country by the Prime Minister and the First Minister are a very clear message for all of us to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. This will mean changes to our everyday work.
The Local Review Body scheduled to take place on Wednesday 25th March has now been cancelled, and will be rescheduled for a later date as soon as practically possible. If you have any queries regarding the Local Review Body, please email email@example.com
We will not be able to carry out the necessary publicity on applications submitted as required by the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997. At this time we have suspended site notices, neighbour notifications and the weekly list will only include those applications which do not require publicity nor neighbour notification. This will be reviewed in three weeks time. This will affect the determining of applications.
Where site visits cannot be carried out we may still be able to process applications using photographs sent to us where appropriate. These will be requested by our officers where required.
Applications where the neighbour notification period has ended before 20th March can still be determined. Where the neighbour notification period ends after 20 March, we will not be able to determine your application until such time as we can return to our work in person. All agents should be notified as appropriate. This applies to all new planning, listed building consent or conservation area consent applications.
On this basis, and in light of these challenging times, any applications now submitted will be worked on as much as resources and procedures allow. We are working with the Scottish Government to understand how we can do this as effectively as possible.
Certificates of lawfulness, advertisement consent, tree preservation orders and trees in conservation area applications do not require publication and can still be determined as usual.
We are still not currently able to process paper applications or accept application payments by phone. Applications must be made through the ePlanning service.
We will continue to review our position and keep you up to date as our service adapts.
What is a conservation area and why do we designate them?
Conservation areas are defined ‘as areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Edinburgh has designated 50 conservation areas over the last 50 years with many of them designated in the early 1970s. They cover historic land, public parks, designed landscapes or railways but most contain groups of buildings extending over areas of the city. It is a statutory requirement for local authorities to review conservation areas and consider whether new conservation area designations are needed.
What are the effects of conservation area status?
Conservation area status does not place a ban upon all new development within its boundaries. It does however, mean that new development will normally only be granted planning permission if it can be demonstrated that it will not harm the special character or appearance of the area. Conservation area status also brings a number of special controls including:
The demolition of unlisted buildings requires Conservation Area Consent;
Some permitted development rights are removed;
Alterations to windows are also controlled in conservation areas in terms of the Council’s guidelines; and
Works to trees are controlled.
Guidance used to set out what we expect from development in Conservation Areas can be found here.
What is the purpose of Character Appraisals?
Character appraisals are produced to help manage change. These set out what makes the conservation area special and helps to make decisions on proposals that may affect the character of an area. All new development should preserve or enhance the conservation area. Change should be based on an understanding of the historic and urban design context.
What are the changes?
The reviewed character appraisal updates the text for its publication as a digital document which will include images, photographs and interactive maps. The review includes an update on some of the area’s larger public buildings and includes a new management section that sets out the relevant legislation policies and guidance used in assessing development proposals in the Conservation Area. This section also identifies particular development pressures within the Conservation Area.
Have your say
You can give us your views on the revised Marchmont, Meadows and Bruntsfield Conservation Area Character Appraisal until the 16 December.
As part of our display in the Central Library on George IV Bridge (running until the end of the month!) we’ve shown parts of old plans and brochures for Edinburgh since the 1940’s. We would like to share some more of our planning past on this blog, to see what City Plan 2030 will follow on from.
The first item we’ve shared is the proposed Development Plan Review from 1965, an update of our very first 1957 City of Edinburgh Development Plan!
This was a early type of consultation document, written to show the main issues faced at the time, and what the planners of the day wanted to do about them, in an accessible brochure. It refers to a number of similar issues to those we are trying to tackle today, such as how growth affects the character of the city, where to direct new growth, and concerns around increased traffic.
Looking at the contents of this Review, they took a very different approach to dealing with these issues than we would today but had a lasting impact and in large part led to the shape of the city as we know it.
City region and population
In 1965 around 476,400 people lived in the city. (mid-2017 estimate – 513,210) The Review set a target to limit this number going over 491,600 by 1985.
Early on, a Regional Plan is proposed to direct at least some growth outside of Edinburgh and keep the population within this limit.
This early hint toward a Regional Plan would eventually lead to today’s SESplan for South-East Scotland, with Edinburgh at its centre. It also sets targets for housing numbers and a plan for where growth should be allowed without pushing people and jobs away from the city.
Major new roads are proposed to reduce traffic jams linked to more people owning cars and cuts to train services. The most radical ideas of the time were plans for an inner ring road, two new radial roads going into the city and a new city bypass.
Of these, only the city bypass was built and part of one radial road – the West Approach Road, but thankfully it’s not the long road link to the M8 that was hoped for. The inner ring road was later cancelled after a campaign from local groups including the Cockburn Association due to the impact it would have had on the historic city and on local housing.
Traffic and congestion is still a challenge, but public transport, active travel and better use of public space is now seen as the way to handle it. The ongoing City Centre Transformation Project and City Mobility Plan will soon share our actions which City Plan 2030 will help to deliver.
Urban renewal and housing
The number of houses required between 1965 and 1985 was estimated at 169,350. At this time there was a focus on new housing in clearance areas which were perceived as having outdated or slum housing.
Clearing and renewing areas of unfit housing was seen as a public responsibility. Comprehensive development areas were drawn up to re-plan entire districts.
One such district is St James Square, which was cleared for the St James Centre, which itself has recently been demolished for replacement by a new centre. St James was always to include new shopping and office space. These plans also made space for the ring road and a modern replacement for St Mary’s Cathedral, which did not go ahead.
In later years there has been regret over the loss of many older districts, but this was driven by a great push for social progress at the time. Today, St James is within the New Town Conservation Area and the World Heritage Site, which goes some way to protecting the special value of our places.
Click on the titles below to download the full brochure for more than what we have covered in this blog post, and the 1974 proposals map for the plan which was approved with some changes since the 1965 Review, such as removal of the New Town ring road section.
The 1965 Review shows how development plans can have a lasting impact on the city for decades to come. As we prepare City Plan 2030 we will be thinking about the impact that planning has and how important it is to involve as many people as possible in helping to shape the final plan.
With more engagement events planned around the city in the coming year, you can sign up for the mailing list by emailing the City Plan team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’d like this to be the first of a series of Past Plans blog posts, so if there are any particular plans or planning documents you’d like to see us cover please comment below and we can search the archives to see if we can include it in a future post.