Portobello Community Council have submitted the following response to the City of Edinburgh Council consultation on Choices for City Plan 2030.
Choice 12 – Building our new homes and infrastructure
12A Which option do you support?
Option 1 (Council/Partners/Urban Area)
Explain why you support that option, or why haven’t chosen an option:
Portobello Community Council undertook a consultation to inform our response to Choice 12A, while also promoting individual responses to the Choices for City Plan 2030 by the community. The consultation had 173 responses, with many detailed comments: City Choices 2030 – Anon responses.
The consultation consisted of two main questions. The first specifically on the choice of land for future housing: brownfield, greenfield or mixed options. 71% selected brownfield, 6% greenfield and 23% for the mixed blended approach. Given the clear preference for brownfield we have selected Option 1.
We poised the second question to allow us to ascertain the level of support for residential development for the identified brownfield sites, within our local area. The sites being: Seafield (site 383), Evans Halshaw Sir Harry Lauder Rd (site 400), Powerleague Westbank St (site 334), Hifi Corner Joppa Rd (site 210) and
Booker Wholesale Eastfield (site 225). Respondents were asked to rank each site on a 5 point scale from most-preferred to least-preferred.
To analyse the responses we scored from 2 (most-preferred) through to -2 (least-preferred) and totalled:
Clearly the Seafield site is the most preferred for residential development, with Evan Halshaw and Booker Wholesale site also having positive support. Hifi Corner had a negative response, with the Powerleague site clearing being the least preferred for development. The comments linked earlier should be reviewed. Some key takeaways are:
- The Powerleague site is currently designated as Openspace in the local development plan, it is not “brownfield”. There is considerable history behind this designation, tied with its former use as an outdoor swimming pool and the desire to maintain recreation use of the site at the time of the last redevelopment as five-a-side football pitches. Comments received indicate there is a continuing desire to maintain it for recreational use. This site has also been the focus of a participation request and following on from that a collaborative placemaking exercise and community-led project to attempt to shape the future of the site.
- Car garages seem to be viewed as a sub-optimal current use of the Seafield site, with housing more appropriate.
Choice 4 – Creating Place Briefs and supporting the use of Local Place Plans in our communities
4A We want to work with local communities to prepare Place Briefs for areas and sites within City Plan 2030 highlighting the key elements of design, layout, and transport, education and healthcare infrastructure development should deliver. Do you agree with this?
Portobello Community Council supports the proposal to prepare Place Briefs. We caveat this support with specific recommendations for the Seafield site which we consider will need a creative and clearly structured, timetabled and evidence based approach to placemaking and community engagement.
While supporting the principle of Place Briefs, further clarity is needed on the process for community engagement and the timetable for their production. In order not to raise developer expectations in advance of Place Briefs being produced, we advise that work on the Place Briefs should be undertaken before allocations are finalised in the City Plan.
Depending on which sites are to be taken forward for ‘housing led mixed use development’ within the Portobello area, we suggest that community engagement on sites within our neighbourhood should be co-ordinated. Co-ordination of engagement, through a series of planned events, would likely help identify neighbourhood wide issues, generate ‘buy-in’ and deliver efficiencies in the process of engagement.
National Records show that the population of Portobello has changed considerably over recent years, and will change further when currently consented developments are fully built out. Given the scale and distribution of the additional sites which will impact on Portobello, as proposed by the City Choices document, we consider there is a real need for the Place Briefs in the Portobello area to be informed by a gathering of neighbourhood level data and community information.
Good neighbourhood level information will be an important starting point for the Place Brief work, informinfg the specific context of the sites and the needs of the community, while positively guiding the mix of uses, and the placemaking opportunities. We consider these are necessary processes and principles for successful development within an expanding and densifying Portobello community.
Ideally a Local Place Plan should be the basis for this “neighbourhood profile”, preceding the preparation of the Place Briefs. However, in noting the short timetable for the City Plan, we advise that this may be unrealistic and a “neighbourhood profile” should be developed to help provide overview for the Place Brief work. Data sets, such as population, transport, open space and play, coastal climate change and other household information could form the basis for a Portobello neighbourhood profile.
We would be happy to help compile this information and we may be able to survey the Portobello community on specific issues or relevant needs assessments if time allows. We also highlight the on-going work that City of Glasgow are doing to create ‘liveable neighbourhood plans’ and suggest this may be a useful template for a similar approach in Edinburgh. “Liveable neighbourhoods are a blueprint for improving every neighbourhood in the city through a range of interventions to make them more pleasant places for people to live, work and play” GCC statement 2020
Finally, if the Seafield site is to be taken forward in the Choices Plan we strongly suggest that a more structured, timetabled and detailed approach to the planning and co-ordination of development will be required. This is due to the proposed scale of the Seafield proposal and its strategic importance to delivery of housing led mixed use development. The potential to better connect Leith and Portobello neighbourhoods and improve the wider city waterfront through placemaking is an opportunity that needs to be grasped if this area is to be allocated.
For Seafield, further baseline work on social, green and transport infrastructure needs and opportunities will be needed. A transparent and structured process to community engagement will also be necessary. In this regard we note the positive process for placemaking and community engagement that has taken place for the Granton Masterplan and we would support a similar approach for the Seafield area.
We would welcome further early dialogue with Portobello Community Council on the issues raised above. For Seafield, involvement with the Community Councils which bound the proposed site would also be welcome.
4B We want to support Local Place Plans being prepared by our communities. City Plan 2030 will set out how Local Place Plans can help us achieve great places and support community ambitions. How should the Council work with local communities to prepare Local Place Plans?:
Portobello Community Council are fully supportive of community led Local Place Plans and we are aware of growing interest in the idea from individuals and groups within our community.
We would be interested in developing a Local Place Plan for the whole Portobello area, or indeed a part of our area, but we are conscious that this would require substantial work, support from partners and necessary financial resources.
We would be happy to discuss these matters further with a view towards working positively with the Council to deliver a Local Place Plan for the Portobello community.