In 2021, Scottish Government legislation allowed councils to have a short-term let control area. In a control area, this means if that if a flat or a house, which is not the home you live in, is used for a short-term let, you will need planning permission.
Edinburgh was the first council in Scotland to apply for a short-term control area, which has now been in place since 5 September 2022 and covers the whole of the Council’s area.
The amount of STL accommodation has grown significantly in the last ten years and Edinburgh is recognised as an area that has greater pressures than other parts of the country.
We’ve recently updated two important planning guidance documents to better shape development in the city, for design and for land use in the city centre. These guidance documents are used by applicants when designing and submitting applications, and by planners when assessing these applications. They are good examples of the sources we use to judge proposals that come to us and to make clear what we expect of new development.
The main changes to the guidance are covered below, with a link to the documents.
City Centre Shopping and Leisure Supplementary Guidance Changes
The Council prepares planning guidance for the City Centre under the Planning (Scotland) Act. The guidance is a statutory requirement of our Local Development Plan policy on shops to guide how and where shops and non-shop uses in town centres including the city centre are allowed.
This guidance sets out the change of use policies that apply to the city centre retail core, the boundary of which can be seen on the LDP proposals map and sets out where a planning application for a change of use from a shop to a non-shop use will be supported.
Since the guidance was first written there have been changes that are likely to have an impact on the city centre such as; wider changes to shopping trends, the publication of our City Centre Transformation strategy, the publication of a retail and leisure study, the future opening of the new Edinburgh St James and many changes of use in the centre. The key changes respond to these and cover:
Altering existing guidance covering Princes Street to provide significantly more flexibility for non-shop uses.
Creating new guidance for Castle Street, Frederick Street and Hanover Street which is much more flexible than the other named streets.
Altering the existing guidance covering the frontages of the other named streets in the retail core to be more flexible.
Altering the existing guidance covering parts of the city centre retail core outside of these streets by determining changes of use based on whole streets rather than units in a row.
The guidance was written with the involvement of people working in retail in Edinburgh through workshops and was opened to public consultation before being approved by the Planning Committee on 29 January 2020. You can view the updated guidance here.
Edinburgh Design Guidance Changes
The non-statutory Edinburgh Design Guidance sets out the Council’s expectations for the design of new development in Edinburgh. It seeks to raise standards of design in the city by providing guidance on how to respond to specific design issues, from analysing a site, to masterplanning, building design, materials and streets and public spaces. The changes to the Edinburgh design Guidance were also approved at Planning Committee on 29 January 2020.
Following a workshop with elected members and working with our planning colleagues, a number of changes were identified to clarify and update the guidance. The key changes are:
A methodology for calculating density to ensure a consistent approach across the city to calculating built density. (p38)
Approved council guidance on public art is now included in the Edinburgh Design Guidance document. (p48)
Revisions to the parking standards to make their use easier and highlight where it is appropriate to differ from these standards. (p79)
Clarification of daylighting and key view assessment processes. (p99)
Guidance on designing for people with disabilities (p108) and on single aspect dwellings. (p110)
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.
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:
Following on from these events, we are now running a short online survey using the questions from the Place Standard tool, which, if you live, work or spend time in the Southside, we would love it if you could spare 5 -10 minutes to complete it.
Just a reminder of what the Place Standard is, it is a tool to evaluate the quality of a place. There are 14 questions which cover the social and physical elements of a place. Each question is given a score out of 7 based on what people think and feel, 7 being excellent and 1 being poor.
The results of the events and the online survey will help to inform future policies and change in the area, so it is vitally important that you have your say on what needs to be improved.
Thank you in advance for taking time out to complete the survey.
The City of Edinburgh Council in partnership with various organisations from the Southside, will be holding a Placemaking exercise to get your views on what you think works well and what doesn’t work so well in the Southside.
How to get involved
We will be carrying out a placemaking exercise using the Place Standard tool which has been developed by A&DS, the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland. We will take groups of people through the exercise in facilitated sessions. We’d like as many of the community as possible to get involved to help make the process work.
This is the third time we have used this process, so we know it is a successful tool. It will help inform the Town Centre Supplementary Guidance and the Southside Locality Improvement Plan.
Places that work well for the community have a significant influence on the health and well-being of individuals. The opposite is also true – places that do not work well have a negative impact on health and well-being. The aim of placemaking is to create successful places.
We can measure the success of a place through the use of a tool called the Place Standard . This consists of a series of indicators that allow the community to assess things like access to greenspace, general maintenance of an area and perception of safety. This tells us where a place is succeeding and where it is failing.
The Scottish Government’s policy on Architecture and Place – Creating Places sets the context for how we can deliver great places.
What will happen after the exercise?
This process will give us lots of information about the Southside and how it works well as a town and where it doesn’t and we can use this to inform what we do as a Council and how new development can support the qualities of the Southside.
This is not just another consultation, it is an opportunity to make a difference to the area in which you live, work and visit.
Information regarding these events is also available on the City of Edinburgh Council’s consultation hub.