Friday, 16 January 2009

Inside the minds of Edinburgh`s Plannning Committee

In todays Evening News, they reckon that the planning committee will pass yet another Allan Murray scheme, no surprises there then???? So lets all start to go loco down in SOCO...

The Edinburgh Association of Community Councils Question Time was held in the Business Centre of the City Chambers on Saturday December 6th 2008 from 10am to 12 noon. The topic under discussion was Planning and Economic Development

In attendance for the panel were: Planning Committee Convener -Cllr. Jim Lowrie (SLD - Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart --Cllr. Joanna Mowat (Conservative - City Centre),
Cllr. Steve Burgess (Green Party - Southside/Newington) Cllr Norma Hart (Labour Liberton/Gilmerton.

The main points of the discussion were: How the Planning and Development Committee works

Here are some of the days choice pieces -

"Cllr Lowrie noted in his opening remarks that he had been a councillor for 10 years, and acknowledged that the other councilors had been council members for just 18 months."

" All acknowledged that the workload for the Planning Committee was ‘very heavy', the training was continuous and frequent, and the newer councillors described their brief as the ‘steepest learning curve' they had ever experienced. "

"Councillor Hart noted that she had been surprised to learn just how ‘constrained' the Planning Committee was by legislation."

" Cllr Lowrie further noted that despite a current popular belief that the Committee is now influenced by decisions politically, this is not the case. Councillors from one party will often express different views and vote in opposition to each other over proposed developments.

Cllr Lowrie emphasized that the Committee does not have the powers to ‘really stop developments' if they are within the national and local policies and plans. "

and on the The Caltongate Development specifically-

Cllr Hart: The Labour Group voted for Caltongate. This was not a decision taken lightly. The application was scrutinized and qualified. There was a balance needed between interests and potential benefits. In general it seems possible to strike a balance. There is a significant degree of local discontent, yet there will be a new amenity, an important green site and cycle routes.

Cllr Mowat: We will be proud of the new development. It is not the abomination that some people describe. It will create safer routes from the station through to the Parliament buildings, some of which can at present be dangerous and threatening after 4.30 in winter. Those promoting the Heritage argument asked why we would allow this proposal to go through. We felt it would add to the area. The impossible ‘fish-bone' patterns of medieval times that were proposed by those supporting the Heritage views would not have been good for the site. The plan is now above the standard of plans usually seen.

Cllr Lowrie: We were successful in significantly changing the original concept. The original application passed in 2002 wasn't exciting and didn't generate a sense of place. Now a big square is part of the plan, with cafes and walkways. The route to Parliament will be vital and lively. There will be one big arch, but generally the frontage won't vary from that along the rest of the Royal Mile. " Read and weep at full minutes here

Wow what insight they all have, I for one am so proud that those people are on the capital`s planning committee, I will sleep well knowing this....................................where is my medication?