Report on PUBLIC MEETING held 28 August about the implications for Juniper Green of the second Draft Local Development Plan
News date:6th Sep 2014
Summary Report of Public Meeting on Thursday 28 August 2014 at Juniper Green Village Hall to Consider the Local Development Plan 2 and its Implications for Juniper Green.
The meeting had been called by Juniper Green Community Council in response to local pressure. It was attended by approximately 90 people.
The Panel: Cliff Beevers, Chair JGCC; Neil Ingram, Planning Convenor JGCC; Jim Ferguson, Chair Friends of Curriemuirend Park; Helen Ogg, Vice-chair JGCC; Jestyn Davies, Murray Estates; Robin Holder, Holder Planning
1 Chairman’s Opening Remarks, Cliff Beevers
2 Outline of the LDP2 Proposals, Neil Ingram
3 LDP2 and the Retention of Curriemuirend Park as Building Land, Jim Ferguson
4 Information the CEC Planning Committee have Requested from Planning Officers re an Alternative to Building on Green Space along The Lanark Road Corridor, Helen Ogg
5 .The Strategic Development Plan, LDP2, and the Northern Section of Murray Estates’ Garden District Proposal, Jestyn Davies and Robin Holder
6. Question and Answer session. (NB Questions were also to be invited after the individual representations.)
1. Chair’s Opening Remarks: After introducing the panel, Cliff Beevers outlined the background to LDP2 as it affects our locality. The City’s proposal to build houses on Curriemuirend Park had received objections from JGCC and 486 others. Despite this, constant representations by JGCC and the Friends of Curriemuirend Park to councillors and the Planning Committee, and council spending of about £25k on a feasibility study concluding that at present the site, even with 180 units, was not financially viable, Curriemuirend Park had been retained as development land in LDP2.
City planners had had to respond to the Scottish Government reporter who had argued that the whole of the SE of Scotland needed to find even more housing land than had been allocated in LDP1. Curriemuirend Park was already on the housing budget account, so has remained in LDP2. Juniper Green was also affected by proposals to build in Currie and Balerno.
2. Neil Ingram. The LDP2 proposals for the Water of Leith Valley now included 165 houses at Curriemuirend Park, 50 houses at Curriehill Road, a further 50 houses at Riccarton Mains Road and over 200 at Newmills Road. The plan indicated that the impact of such numbers on the Lanark Road was to be mitigated by changes to the traffic lights at Gillespie Crossroads, producing a 10% improvement in traffic flow, which could scarcely be regarded as significant given present congestion.
3. Jim Ferguson. There had been 487 objections to the inclusion of Curriemuirend Park for housing development in LDP1 last year and the Feasibility Report commissioned by the CEC had concluded that building on the Park was not currently economically viable, though it was said possibly to be so in the lifetime of the LDP, but this information has apparently not been fed into LDP2. It was important to recognize that references in LDP2 to environmental improvements in GS10 referred to Clovenstone Drive, not to Curriemuirend Park as stated in the published documents. Building on the Park would result in the loss of the bulk of over 5,000 maturing trees planted under the Millenium scheme, improving bio-diversity in the park and running and cycle tracks proposed by the Friends of Curriemuirend Park. LDP2’s suggested ‘active street frontage’ of planned houses on Wester Hailes Road presumably would involve further impediments to traffic flow as residents reversed on to the street. Furthermore, proposals included four controlled pedestrian crossings on Wester Hailes Road between Wester Hailes Library and Gillespie Crossroads, another potentially serious disruption to traffic.
Eric White, former JGCC Treasurer, commented that Wester Hailes Road is part of an important circular route round the city, often acting as a relief road for the by-pass, so that, if it were narrowed as planned in LDP2, very serious congestion would result.
Ken Shade of Balerno CC pledged his community council’s support and undertook that Balerno would object to the retention of Curriemuirend Park for housing development in LDP2.
4. Helen Ogg. At its meeting of 19 June CEC’s Planning Committee had asked the Chief Planning Officer to reconsider his department’s rejection of Murray Estates’ proposal to develop the northern section of their Garden District Plan. This area is within one of the Strategic Development Areas (SDAs) identified under the SESplan, the plan for housing in the whole of south-east Scotland. It lies west of the by-pass and between the A8 in the north and the Edinburgh-Glasgow railway line in the south. There is a planning presumption to choose housing land in brown field sites first, then within one of the 13 SDAs in SE Scotland before considering either green field or Breen Belt land.
5. Jestyn Davies and Robin Holder. The areas identified in LDP2 for housing in Juniper Green, Currie and Balerno were not within an SDA, possibly because the infrastructure could not cope with more housing, whereas the northern part of the Garden District referred to in planning documents as ‘East of Milburn Tower’ was in an SDA. Murray Estates planned 1,000 houses for this area together with shops, a primary school, dentists’, Faith buildings and doctors’ surgeries. There were good transport connections to the city centre and elsewhere, with 4 tram stops and Edinburgh Park railway station within easy reach, ready access to arterial roads running north to south and east to west, Hermiston Gate Park and Ride nearby, as well as a proposed bus route through the housing development. Well-lit pedestrian underpasses, designed primarily with safety in mind, would lead to Edinburgh Park. The adjacent land to the north was to be further developed as the Business Gateway and this would be expanding opportunities, so that there would be no shortage of work in the vicinity for residents. Planners had not included the site in LDP2, giving as their reasons that its development would be obtrusive for users of the by-pass, a poor relationship with public transport, potential dangers posed by underpasses, and possible flooding. On the other hand, one of the country’s leading authorities had discounted the flooding risk from the Gogar Burn, against which the developers had in any case already taken preventive measures. It seemed extraordinary to claim there were poor public transport links and there would be belts of woodland to the east and west of the development, lessening the visual impact from elsewhere. In the view of Murray Estates and Holder Planning, the site could easily replace those identified in LDP2 for the Lanark Road corridor, offering space for 1,000 housing units as against 460 or so in Juniper Green, Currie and Balerno.
6. In answer to questions from the floor and the panel –
a. There would be provision for social housing within the development at the recommended rate of 25%. Robin admitted that around 75% of the city’s effective land supply was on brownfield sites, and it should be recognized that some of the area within SDAs was within the green belt.
b. In terms of objections from residents within the proposed development area, there was no community within the immediate vicinity, while impact on Hermiston had been anticipated by leaving a substantial gap between the Murray Estates housing and Hermiston village.
c. If the planners decided to include the Garden District northern section, there should be no further need for developments in the WoL corridor of villages. Councillor Ricky Henderson confirmed that none of the Garden District area was in the LDP2, but stressed that councillors were trying to steer the planning officials towards the inclusion of the northern section, which could take pressure off our area.
d. There would be no impact from the Murray proposals on local schools or catchment areas in Juniper Green (including Baberton Mains), Currie or Balerno, but if building on Curriemuirend Park did take place, the Educational Appraisal accompanying LDP2 is suggesting that children from the houses there would be allocated to the Clovenstone Primary School catchment area though there was a statutory requirement to consult before that happened. Councillor Bill Henderson assured the meeting that Balerno and Currie High Schools would have spare capacity to meet future needs even if development took place in the Water of Leith Valley.
e. It would make sense to Murray Estates to extend the southern boundary of the suggested development to the M8 instead of the railway line as that would permit another 500 houses to be built, making the northern section’s infrastructure more viable. It was not very clear why the segment between the M8 and the railway had been omitted from the SDA.
f. It was not a case of either the development East of Milburn Tower, or the developments at Curriemuirend Park, Newmills, Riccarton Mains Road and Curriehill, but development of the former would certainly provide a strong argument that development of the latter had become superfluous.
g. Gridlock on Wester Hailes Road would present obstructions to emergency service vehicles.
h. Gordon Miller, member of JGCC and of Friends of Curriemuirend recommended submitting two representations on LDP2, one opposing the proposals for Curriemuirend Park, the other in favour of developing within the SDA east of Milburn Tower.
In his closing remarks the Chairman reminded the meeting of opportunities to keep in touch with JGCC and their CEC councillors at JGCC’s AGM and at the monthly farmers’ market which would move to the Village Hall in September.
Jim Ferguson distributed representation forms with the guidance notes.
*For the very latest news on Curriemuirend Park and help with formulating objections to the LDP2 proposals for its development please go to http://www.curriemuirend.co.uk/News.aspx
**For the Planning Committee instruction to the Chief Planning Officer re the area East of Milburn Tower, go to the Minutes of the Planning Committee Meeting of June 19, item 5, found on the following link: http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/3440/planning_committee