Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Another Caltongate Council Error!

The Canongate Community Forum the body behind Save Our Old Town Campaign have written to the head of planning Alan Henderson (pictured above) who is due to retire any day now. They received a reply from Henderson who talks about a letter dated the 21st July 2008 not the 6th of August as referred to in the Forum`s letter!!

Dear Mr Henderson

I am writing in response to your letter entitled Notification of intent to grant planning permission dated 6th August 2008.

The Canongate Community Forum is requesting an extension to this the latest round of consultation on the Caltongate Planning applications. This round is one which should have been carried out immediately following the Council Planning Committee’s decision on the 6th February this year.

This would have allowed the public to give comment on the statement of reasons for these applications being approved by the committee, on the recommendation of the planning department.

As this is clearly a council mistake it is only right that the time period for people to respond to the letters received in the last few days is extended. There are many reasons for this, people are confused, exhausted, on holiday etc

Reasons to extend consultation –

In this letter it is stated that only the minimum period of 14 days will be allowed to submit any further comment on the statements or on any views on the processing of the applications

I received mine and the one on behalf of The Canongate Community Forum on Friday 8th, (letter dated the 6th) and have been notified by others that they only received theirs today or haven’t as yet.

The council has a significant financial interest in all the applications.

At this time of the year you will be well aware that most people are on holiday, The Scottish Parliament is in recess, and most councillors are on holiday, schools, colleges, universities and so on are on holiday. And you may have noticed that the city is playing host to the biggest Arts Festival in the world. Many people are away from the city at this time, and do not always check their emails, or local press when away.

This oversight in the consultation process should not have happened and should have been picked up earlier in the following process, so it is unfortunate that there will be delays to the developer, but the consultation should not be restricted to 14 days (the minimum) in order just to benefit the developer.

It should be more than the ordinary minimum time as this situation is out of the ordinary.

We are dealing with Scotland’s capital city and part of her World Heritage Site, which is everyone’s to cherish worldwide A Unesco mission will visit Edinburgh towards the end of this year to evaluate its status as a World Heritage Site. An official inquiry was launched in July at UNESCO`s meeting in Quebec amid concerns about the potential impact of Caltongate, which won planning approval despite over 1,800 objections.
Article Here

As a result of this mistake by the council decision notices for the demolitions have been issued prematurely and must therefore now be void, so I request that you must assure The Canongate Community Forum and others that there is no way that these demolitions will take place before the whole process has been carried out in its proper order and without bias.

Many members of the community have not been opening their latest letter as they were flooded with the demolition notices in the last few weeks and thought this another, so its vital extra time is given to alert these people and press coverage given.

The local Community Council does not meet in August and will be unable deal with this consultation before September.

We therefore request you extend this consultation to run for 6 weeks from the date of the letter, thereby allowing reasonable time for all those concerned to find out its actually going on and to allow them time to write to the appropriate people with their concerns if any over the councils reasons to approve the Caltongate Applications back in February this year. You have to take in to account that over 6 months have passed since this decision was taken. So you must allow more than a few days for people to revisit this whole subject, which is complex as well as controversial.

I hope to receive an early response to this email.

Yours faithfully
Sally Richardson
Canongate Community Forum

Council`s Reply

Dear Ms Richardson


You have written requesting additional time to reply to our letter of 21 July 2008.

As that letter states, this is an opportunity to make further representations to the planning authority and to Scottish Ministers if you do not consider that your views have been properly dealt with. This forms a procedural review of your engagement with the process rather than an opportunity to raise new issues or repeat issues already presented.

This is a process that all planning applications where the Council has an interest and the application requires to be notified to Scottish Ministers will have to go through. All applications require to be dealt with in the same manner. As this is a review and not a new consultation, I do not accept that there is a justification for an exception in this case.

As such, I am not prepared to agree to your request to extend the period for comment. I look forward to receiving your comments by 21 August.

Please note that this process only applies to planning applications, it does not apply to applications for listed building consent or conservation area consent.

Yours sincerely

Alan Henderson
Head of Planning and Strategy

So looks like they don`t want to know, next stop Scottish Ministers....so check back tomorrow

A letter in yesterday`s Evening News
It's time to speak up over Caltongate
It would be great it the council's incompetence over the Caltongate planning application actually put the project at risk (City's major blunder, August 7), but for some reason the SNP and the Liberal Democrats seem determined to bulldoze people's homes and a Victorian school building for Trevor Davies's grotesque vanity project.Shirley Anne Somerville is always keen to express her reservations about it: perhaps she could speak to her colleagues in the Cabinet and get them to call the public local inquiry they should have agreed to months ago. Or is her opposition pure cynical positioning? James Mackenzie, Marchmont Street, Edinburgh