Assisted uplift service under review in Edinburgh

Below are details of the Council’s plans to review the assisted uplift service in Edinburgh. They plan to write to some of the most vulnerable people in Edinburgh to ask if they still need the service. I am really concerned about this, and have asked if the process has been approved by the Transport & Environment Committee.

Briefing
I am contacting you to inform you that the Waste and Cleansing Service is undertaking a review of our residents who are registered as having an assisted collection.

As you may be aware the service is designed to help where members of a household are physically unable to move wheeled bins or boxes to the kerbside for us to collect. Our crews collect, empty and return a residents bin(s) to a storage position at an agreed location within the boundaries of their property. We can arrange for an assisted collection on a temporary basis (6 months), or on a long-term basis depending on their specific circumstances.

There are currently around 7500 existing assisted collections and there has not been a review of these for a number of years. We believe there may some which are no longer required but we have not been informed of the change. Therefore we are checking whether resident still requires the service and gathering information which help us contact them in the future. A DPIA has been completed and all personal information gathered in this exercise will be handled carefully and in accordance with the relevant legislation.

A letter will be sent out to each address that currently receives an assisted collection this week, a copy of the letter is attached. The letter asks if the assisted collection is still required and requests that the resident (or resident’s carer) fills in the form and returns it to us in a prepaid envelope.

We allow 15 working days for a response, for those who do not respond we will send out a reminder letter in November. If we have had no response we will assume they no longer the service and they will be removed but this will not be done until after the New Year.

If you require any further information please let me know.

Interim Survey Results – Improving Buckstone Play Park

Introduction
Many thanks to everyone one has responded to my survey regarding Buckstone Play Park and the potential to improve it. I’d hoped to get 100 responses, but after just one week I have 201. Fantastic!

My wife and I have lived in Buckstone since 2000, and both our kids (now 17 & 22) grew up loving the play park here (and the one in Fairmilehead Park). Since then, the park has been expanded and should last a few more years. There is a feeling, however, that it is now a little dated. Lockdown has highlighted to us all how important parks are, and over the past year many local parents and grandparents have contacted me asking if Buckstone’s play park can be improved. It is within than context that I drafted the survey.

It is important to note that I only want to use the survey to understand what people want. It is not a referendum, and I am hopeful that if we can improve the park we can reach an outcome that everyone is happy with!

Interim Survey Results
In this section of the blog I hope to run through some of the key outcomes from the survey so far.

Most people responding came from within Buckstone and the surrounding area. (Note – The marks don’t point to the homes of individual homes of respondents, but highlight the general postcode area)
Although some people thought the play park is fine, most people felt there was a need to improve it. Most felt more provision was needed for children aged 5-10.
Where suggestions for improvements were concerned, there was no shortage of ideas. Many people drew inspiration from parks elsewhere.
In terms of provision for older kids, people were most supportive of a MUGA and a skatepark. “Other” options included everything from a climbing frame to golf nets and BMX/MTB course.
Although some people raised concerns, most people were open to expanding the park by using the area to the west.

Overall, I think that it is clear that there is an appetite for change. I shall leave the survey running for a few more days whilst I start the process of setting up a meeting with local residents in the park team to consider this further. If you have not completed or share the survey, please think about doing to now. You can find it here.

Putting Walking First in Edinburgh

It feels like summer is drawing to a close, and it has been quite a memorable one where weather is concerned. We’ve had both floods and heatwaves in Edinburgh. We’ve also seen huge weather variations across the world, and many people are now drawing the conclusion that climate change predictions are becoming reality. I think these people are right, and I hope COP26 in Glasgow forces the UK and Scottish Governments to move beyond talking about “ambitious” targets, and start taking action.

In the coming decade we will see much changing in Edinburgh in response to the climate emergency. I think we all should now demand that new developments come with better public transport links, and new homes come with things like ground source heat pumps and solar panels as standard. I’m interested to see if technology can be used to better integrate these things at a community level so that if an individual has excess solar power, they can “sell” it to their neighbour.

At a city-region scale, I hope we will also see local authorities working together to provide a fully integrated and publicly owned public transport system. This is key as whilst we cannot drive our way out of the climate crisis, people must have a viable alternative if they are to give up their car.

The challenges are no smaller in our communities. Over half of car journeys are under 5 miles, and we know that many people would be happy to walk, cycle or take the bus if it was viable. There is a lot of talk about improving buses, trams and cycling in Edinburgh, but we don’t talk enough about the most sustainable mode of transport – walking!

We know that women, older and poorer people are the least likely to own a car or bike, but too often the footpaths they use are too narrow, potholed, cluttered and have cars parked on them. We need to ensure walking is at the top of our transport hierarchy if we are serious about equality, the climate emergency, the obesity crisis and social isolation. What’s stopping this from happening?

Edinburgh’s City Plan 2030 – The impact on Colinton, Oxgangs & Fairmilehead.

I was elected four years ago on a pledge to work with the community to protect our greenbelt, parks and greenspaces from developers seeking to make a quick profit, and I am happy to report that so far I have succeeded in my Ward, and I’m proud of how the people I represent have taken a stand. The future is now looks even brighter.

The Council has now published its 1,400 page draft City Plan 2030 document (download link at the bottom of this blog). This document maps out how the city will develop over the next decade or so. A key driver is ensuring enough land is set aside for 36,911 new homes which are estimated to be needed, and that Edinburgh has sufficient schools, GPs, transport infrastructure etc to cope with them. 

I can’t pretend to have read all 555,582 words yet, but I think the report does look broadly positive for my Ward:

  1. After years of campaigning by communities in my Ward, City Plan 2030 offers none of the Greenbelt here for development. The same is the case for all of south Edinburgh.
  2. The biggest development area in the whole of Southwest Edinburgh is Redford Barracks. I’m pleased to see that community feedback has been taken onboard in shaping the outline proposals for this site (more detail below), and there will be opportunities for local people to have more say.
  3. It has taken a lot of arguing, but the Council now accepts that it can meet its housing supply targets without allocating any further greenspace for development. HOWEVER, Greenbelt allocated in the previous plan will not be removed – especially in Northwest Edinburgh.  
  4. The strategy of protecting the Greenbelt by using the tram extension to open up brownfield sites in north Edinburgh is now delivering results.

Looking at the wider city, these are the three key points I noted.

  1. Where sites are developed, the Council will take an “infrastructure first” approach – directing new development to where there is existing infrastructure. Where required to support new development, City Plan 2030 requires new and expanded community infrastructure including schools, healthcare, sustainable transport, energy, and waste to support these new communities.
  2. For new developments, the 20% “affordable” target has been scrapped – Edinburgh will demand 35%. I’m disappointed that this will not apply to Student Accommodation.
  3. All new buildings will use low and zero-carbon generating technologies to be net zero and to address climate adaptation, and the aim will be to move towards 20-minute walkable neighbourhoods. The noted intention is to ensure that new housing development is directed to where residents can access a range of key services within walking distance when this is practicable and reasonable. Developers will be expected to demonstrate their proposal’s walkability to key services as part of their submission.

Listed below are some of the key impacts for people in my Ward.

Redford Barracks
The Council is assuming that the UK Government will proceed with its plans to close Redford Barracks. Its CityPlan2030 document maps out how the city will develop over the next 20 years, and it suggests the Redford Barrack could be redeveloped as a:

“housing-led mixed–use development which draws the surrounding communities together, through the provision of new connections, open spaces and other community infrastructure” and this will draw “the surrounding communities together through the provision of new connections, open spaces and other community infrastructure”.

It is expected that there will be appropriate frontages to Colinton Road, Oxgangs Road North and the rear. The existing parade grounds should be kept free from development, and any new development around them must provide active frontages onto these spaces. The security fence will be removed.

It is estimated that the site could accommodate as many as 800 new homes. The redevelopment will respect the history and layout of the site, and it is hoped the War Memorial can be retained (if not, it will be moved). Indeed, it is noted that the site’s military history must be interpreted within the new development.

The report notes that there is flood risk on the site which needs to be better understood.

(1:200 year river flood risk profile – via SEPA)

All homes on the site will be adequately served with play facilities, and the recreation area to the southeast will be retained and will form a new community park.

I’m glad that the Council agreed that this scale of development will necessitate improvements to the bus provision serving Colinton (the focus is the 400), and that GP services will also require expansion. The potential for active travel routes between the redevelopment site with schools, Water of Leith etc. 

The site will also have a “Mobility Hub” this is an accessible place which brings together different transport modes alongside associated facilities, services and information to encourage more sustainable travel. These can include a range of shared mobility services, click and collect, electric vehicle charging, etc.

The developer will also fund investment in Firrhill HS and Colinton PS. It is estimated that Colinton PS will require 6 classrooms and a dining/assembly hall extension. For Firrhill HS, a site of around 2.3ha is required for expansion. It is also recognised that additional pre-school provision will be needed.

The public will also have a say on individual applications over the next decade, and I will ensure the voices of local people are heard.

When I was elected in 2017 I was sure we’d have seen more clarity on the future of the barracks by now, but today I am less than certain that we will see substantial progress before 2030!

Fairmilehead Area
There is no mention in the report other than confirming the Swanston and Winton conservation areas. Buckstone Shops are noted as being a “Local Centre”. St Peter’s, Buckstone and Pentland Primary Schools are noted as needing no additional capacity up to 2030.  

Oxgangs Area
Oxgangs is noted as benefitting from the potential redevelopment of Redford Barracks. Oxgangs Broadway is designated as a Local Centre. St Mark’s and Oxgangs Primary Schools are noted as needing no additional capacity up to 2030, but Firrhill High School is flagged as needing room for expansion due to the Redford Barracks redevelopment.   Braidburn School is not mentioned in the report.

Colinton Area
Colinton Village is noted as being a Local Centre and the conservation area designation is noted. The potential to establish South Gyle-Pentlands-Swanston-Portobello cycle route is highlited (this looks like an extension to the planned Portobello-Pentlands active travel route). Colinton Primary School is explained as needing room for expansion due to the Redford Barracks redevelopment, and Bonaly Primary School is noted has having no capacity issues.  

Boroughmuir HS, St Thomas of Aquin’s RC HS & St Augustine’s RC HS.
There is already significant pressure on the capacity of Boroughmuir HS, and development withing the catchment will result in an estimated further 46 pupils. An extension to increase the capacity of Boroughmuir High School to 1,560 pupils is currently under construction – the demand by 2030 is estimated as 1,705. Beyond this, the school cannot be extended further on its existing site (they built it in the wrong place!). The report notes – “To accommodate all pupils forecast from population growth and pupil generation from new development it will be necessary to engage with the school community to consider the options available, including catchment change.”. I write about this issue here – the blog is now a little dated, but the issues at play have not changed.

For St Thomas of Aquin’s RC High School, the report suggests suggests that it will have only limited capacity to provide places for RC pupils generated by new housing developments. Accordingly, contributions of £5,313,509 are sought for the 101 pupils estimated to be generated by new developments.

For St Augustine’s RC High School, contributions of £18,465,759 are sought for the 351 pupils estimated to be generated by new developments.

Braid/Comiston Road Spaces for People Scheme Survey now LIVE

I was informed by a resident yesterday evening the Braid/Comiston Road SfP survey is now live – the results of this will inform the ongoing review.

I was very disappointed not to have been informed by the Council that survey was going live. Additionally, I received no replies to my request to comment on the survey design. Nor was I allowed to see the area from which residents will be permitted to participate (it is shown on the above map which I received today after complaining).

My view is that the number of households being invited to respond from the Buckstone Terrace area is wholly inadequate, and does not compare well with the approach taken along the Lanark Road where a number of side streets were included.

People living outside the survey area can’t take part, and when I asked about how this was monitored (for the Lanark Road survey) I received this response – “Participants of the survey are required to supply name, surname, postcode and email address. This will allow the us to determine if the participants are from the area or not. Regarding the integrity of the survey, we are managing the risk of this happening proportionately by introducing these required fields as it make it much more difficult for someone to fake a response at scale – to submit a hundred fake responses you would need a hundred valid postcodes, a hundred emails and a hundred names.”

A copy of the survey and the letter to residents is below, but please don’t respond if you have not been invited to do so. I’m working to have the area enlarged.

Update – Braid/Comiston Road Spaces for People Scheme Review

Below is an update from Council Officers in the ongoing Braid/Comiston Road SfP Scheme review. At the foot of the blog are the notes from the Community Council workshop and the slides which informed the discussion. It looks like an interesting meeting, with two stand-out quotes:

  1. The Council appears to be considering allowing parking in the cycle lanes: “it is proposed to remove the Loading restrictions along most of the length of the scheme, and provide gaps in the cycle lane defenders where possible, to provide additional loading opportunities.”
  2. There is an acceptance that the road network is now less resilient when road traffic incidents occur: “Accidents can happen anywhere but they are occasional events and should not be the primary concern when planning a road network.”

The next step is for a survey of local people to take place. I have asked for an opportunity to comment on the questions and the area included in the survey.

Council Update – Braid/Comiston Road Spaces for People Scheme Review
As you will be aware we recently completed a consultation exercise on the potential retention of Spaces for People measures. This was followed by the publication of the report on keeping these measures, which was considered at the meeting of the city’s Transport and Environment Committee on 17 June. The decision to retain or remove measures was based on consultation results, independent market research, a review by technical officers and consideration of how well such changes fit with the Council’s long-term transport policy objectives.

At this meeting it was agreed that a final decision on moving forward with the schemes should be made at the 24 June meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council.

Council motion on Braid Road
The Council voted to approve the report, with requests from Councillors to review the Comiston Road Scheme and consider options for reopening Braid Road in both directions. Officers have been asked to engage with local residents and local Community Councils to consider:

  • options for Comiston Road, to improve public transport connectivity and reduce impacts on local residents
  • options for the reopening of the Braid Road in both directions, including analysis of impacts on traffic levels, resident connectivity and vulnerable road users walking, wheeling and cycling

To help us make more informed decisions, we are also currently monitoring traffic through the area, using cross-modal counters. You can read the full motion here.

We have commenced with the required engagement with Community Councils and Local Residents – this engagement will continue over the coming weeks through the following means.

Meeting with Community Councils
Council officers developed initial proposals which were discussed with representatives from the relevant Community Councils at a workshop on 25 August. Notes from this meeting, along with the slides which were presented, are attached.

Residents’ Survey
The outcomes of this meeting in terms of proposals will be detailed in a survey on the Council’s website. Information regarding this survey will be circulated to residents on affected streets via letter drop. This will allow us to gather a good sample of opinion in the local area in relation to the changes proposed.

The results of survey will help us to mitigate the concerns which have been voiced regarding this scheme and will sit alongside the results from the previous consultation when elected members decide on whether this scheme should be retained in the longer term.

The plan to resurface Lothian Road whilst George IV Bridge is closed?

A few people have been in touch about the Council’s plan to resurface Lothian Road whilst George IV Bridge is closed due to the recent fire. I have ask Council Officers about this as Lothian Road is used by a number of bus services serving my Ward, some of which are already being delayed by the Braid/Comiston Road Spaces for People scheme (this is under review, but I spotted no problems today). The response from Officers on the resurfacing plans is below.

Lothian Road Resurfacing Works
Firstly I can confirm that we are well aware of the issues at George IV Bridge and have been working with the Network Management team to determine a way forward.

It’s not simply a question of postponing the works. As the work is being undertaken by a third-party contractor there would be a cost involved in rescheduling the works, possibly requiring us to go back out to tender and delaying the work by several weeks.

I am pleased to report, however, that we have been in discussion with the contractor over the last couple of days and have determined a way to reconfigure the work to enable us to delay the introduction of the proposed temporary traffic lights at the Fountainbridge/East Fountainbridge junction which were planned to be in place from Monday 6 September. This will mitigate the impact of the work in the short term.

We are now looking at implementing them at some stage week commencing 13 September instead, when the situation at George IV Bridge will hopefully be clearer.

The work at Lothian Road next week will concentrate on the removal of the existing Spaces for People measures on Earl Grey Street along with gully replacement works which will require only a single lane closure. Lothian Buses have been involved in these discussions and are supportive of the revised proposals.

We will continue to monitor the situation over the forthcoming days and weeks.

The Official Lanark Road Spaces for People Survey Starts Tomorrow.

I understand a survey will go out to local people tomorrow asking their views about the future of the Lanark Road Spaces for People scheme.

Earlier this year, the Council asked residents and businesses what they thought about keeping the Spaces for People measures for a longer experimental period (or permanently) as they feel they help it achieve some of their longer-term ambitions for the “people-focussed travel network” included in the City Mobility Plan. This consultation rejected the Lanark Road scheme largely based on safety grounds, and the current mini-review aims to see if these can be addressed.

The survey going out tomorrow will seek the resident’s views on:

  • measures to achieve cycle speed reductions; and,
  • changes to the parking spaces which sit outside protected cycle lanes.

The Council have developed proposals which they feel focus primarily on those locations where conflict is most likely – that is where cyclists might be travelling at speed on the inside of parked vehicles. They’ve discussed these options with Community Councillors (I was not invited to this) and they say the comments have helped them inform the proposals.

I have not been given prior sight of the survey(!), but I was successful in having the area it covers enlarged and I was also given a commitment that local businesses would be included.

Below are notes from the meeting with Community Councillors – the discussion was based on the slides I shared here. The discussion sounds constructive, but it appears very little hard data informed proceedings (a concern given the recent RED Internal Audit finding SfP received).

Meeting Notes
SfP presented the previously circulated document, outlining the options which had been developed to mitigate cycle speed, and conflict between people accessing parked cars, and people on bikes.

Proposals include the introduction of road markings on the cycleway to encourage people cycling to slow down on approach to parking areas, as well as specific options for revisions at two parking areas: Spylaw Park (by Cranley Nursery), and; Kingsknowe Park (by Dovecot Park).

Spylaw Park (street)
The Council is aware of concerns regarding conflict between parents accessing Cranley Nursery and passing cyclists at this location. Due to its location this section of cycleway is also likely to be less heavily used, and less beneficial to users than the remainder of the corridor.

There are two proposed options at this location.

  1. Remove the Parking
  2. Remove the cycleway

(NB: SfP clarified during the presentation that there is a third option at this location – to leave it as it currently with both parking and cycleway, and that this will be made clear in any community engagement)

A Community Councillor stated that cycle counts were being carried out but the Post-Implementation results were not yet available, and that they would not go into granular enough detail to assess this specific location. Though this level of granularity may be available from Strava data, and this can be considered in advance of final decisions being made. However, the assumption that it sees less use than the rest of the route is reasonable.

A Community Councillor suggested that this area should remain as it is now, with improvements made if possible, and that it would be a retrograde step to remove the infrastructure now it is in place. AG further suggested that the cycleway should instead be extended further west to more effective connect the communities to the West of the bypass.

Officers noted that no support was voiced for removing the cycleway at this location, and that this would be considered in developing the public engagement, which would include the option to retain the current layout.

Kingsknowe Park
The Council is aware of conflict at this location between people accessing the parked cars and passing cyclists, including reports of near misses and collisions. There are two options at this location:

  1. Remove the parking
  2. Relocate the parking to the opposite side of the road
    1. (Relocating the parking results in a net increase in the number of spaces)

(NB: SfP explained that due to the occurrence of at least one collision at this location it was not considered a viable option to make no changes here – as such leaving the layout as it is was probably not a viable third option)

A Community Councillor stated that relocating the parking to the uphill side of the road seemed a sensible move, but asked about receiving deliveries etc for the flats where the parking is currently located.

SfP explained that loading/unloading, as well as pick-up / drop-off was still permitted on Double Yellow Lines. As such there will still be space for deliveries and other such uses to be carried out from the kerbside. As a brief activity this is permitted to take place from the cycleway where space allows.

Two Community Councillors agreed that relocating the parking to the uphill side of the street was a sensible option. Though one noted that electric bicycles can still travel at reasonable speeds uphill – though this was probably acceptable as the assisted speeds are still below what can be achieved when travelling downhill.

A Community Councillor queried whether the bollards could be removed from the downhill parking bay to provide more manoeuvring space for people cycling.

SfP explained that this would likely result in vehicles parking closer to the kerb, which would both remove the benefit, and increase the likelihood of ‘dooring’ accidents. Though SfP noted that the bollards have been omitted from the parking areas adjacent to the two nurseries, and adherence does seem to have been good. Nonetheless, the problem is resolved by relocating the parking.

Officers noted that there seemed to be a generally favourable view of relocating the parking bay at this location to the uphill side.

Other Parking Locations
At all remaining parking areas the risk of conflict between people cycling and people accessing parked cars is mitigated by the topography. Nonetheless, it is proposed to introduce further markings to encourage people cycling to keep to an appropriate speed while passing parking areas.

Attendees agreed that this would be a positive change.

General Discussion
A Community Councillor suggested introducing timed parking bays at the parking areas with high demand for customers. Officers highlighted that this is not possible using a TTRO, however it would be possible using an ETRO should the schemes be retained for a longer period.

A Community Councillor queried why we are not paining SLOW on the main carriageway given drivers are being recorded at speeds of 68mph even with the new road design changes. Surely the balance of risk has lost it’s sense of proportionality if we are only concerned about writing SLOW on the cycle lanes? I do support writing it on the cycle lanes before the floating parking bays but why not for drivers also? ‘Traveling Safely’ must surely apply to all road users

A Community Councillor suggested that the ‘floating’ parking bays should be ‘bookended’ better, eg: with planters, to ensure that they are conspicuous even when lightly used. It was also noted that these bays provide a valuable purpose in traffic calming by requiring passing vehicles to reduce their speed.

A Community Councillor highlighted that the cycle crossing point at the junction of Lanark Road and Kingsknowe Drive has poor visibility and should be altered to ensure safety.

A Community Councillor noted that some parking for the golf course has been displaced and that parking around the junctions of Kingsknowe Gardens and Kingsknowe Avenue, with Kingsknowe Road South. AG suggested installing Double Yellow Lines at these junctions to ease parking concerns.

A Community Councillor expressed support for points made by others, including retaining the parking and cycleway adjacent to Cranley Nursery and relocating the parking at Dovecot Park, and introducing SLOW markings on the cycleway. When asked for his thoughts on extending the cycleway further west the Community Councillor stated that should this be considered it should be alongside further engagement.

A Community Councillor suggested reducing the speed limit on Lanark Road further to 20mph. Further suggested installing Crossways (Zebra Crossings without Belisha Beacons) at regular intervals in Lanark Road and at Side Roads, and highlighted the need to improve the environment for cycling on Lanark Road between Inglis Green Road and Hutchison Avenue, especially in light of the new developments taking place in the area.

Officer’s Response
Officers stated that these points would be considered in advance of engagement with residents, and where appropriate the designs, and options, would be updated. In particular, consideration will be given to improving opportunities for crossing the road throughout the scheme, and consideration will be given to the inclusion of a temporary-traffic light controlled crossing. Though officers highlighted that budgetary constraints may create difficulties as such installations are costly due to the ongoing hire costs involved.

Two attendees sent further comments.

A Community Councillor had to leave early but submitted the following questions before leaving, and asked that they be answered:

  • Q: What can be done about enforcement whether that’s speeds (cyclist and cars) or parking illegally?
  • Answer: Enforcement of traffic speeds is carried out by the Police. Police Scotland have carried out enforcement recently following numerous concerns about speeding and are issuing penalties. Speed limits only apply to motorised vehicles as such it is not possible to ‘enforce’ cycle speeds, though it is unlikely that any more than a small minority of cyclists are travelling at speeds in excess of 30mph on this route. The Council is monitoring cycle speeds and will be able to consider whether further mitigations are required in the future.
  • Q: Will anything be done to improve/reduce conflict on the Water of Leith.  The largest number of complaints I receive are around inconsiderate cyclists on the water of leith.  if we are improving safety for cyclists on Lanark Road, is there a way or justificaiton on directing them away from WoL?  Especially what we’ve been referring to as the ‘Strava’ ones?
  • Answer: It is not proposed to actively discourage users from using the Water of Leith, however Lanark Road provides a far more direct route and it is hoped that this will encourage greater use from those people who value speed while cycling.

A Community Councillor was unable to contribute during the meeting due to technical troubles. However, they sent comments after the meeting, which included:

  • Requirement for pedestrian crossing improvements long overdue
  • Relocation of parking at Dovecot Park supported
  • Cycle crossing at Kingsknowe Drive dangerous due to visibility
  • People are much safer cycling on the new route, though some still choose to stay on road
  • Difficult for motorists joining Lanark Road from side roads due to visibility being obscured by parked cars
  • Don’t agree with banning people cycling on Water of Leith
  • Agreement with 30mph limit, but 20mph not required
  • Speed cameras should be re-instated, query why the only face east
  • Several changes at once, means it’s hard to identify results of each
  • Lack of clarity on what metrics will be used to assess the impact of the scheme


Consultation – Taming Airbnb in Edinburgh?

Below is a briefing from the Council on a consultation which is now underway in Edinburgh. After 10 years of inaction (and actually supporting Airbnb), the Scottish Government have given the Council the powers to reduce the impact of Airbnb. Essentially, these changes will mean that in many instances the Airbnb host will have to apply for a “change of use” in order to operate if the let is not their principle home. You can take part in the consultation here.

Briefing
We’re seeking views on a proposal for Edinburgh to be short term let (STL) control area.

A public consultation approved by the Planning Committee on 11 August, will run from today (3 September 2021) for nine weeks, until the 5 November 2021.

If, following the public consultation, the Council gives the go ahead and the proposal is approved by the Scottish Government, the new powers would mean all residential properties, which are not an owner’s principle home, being let as STLs in their totality throughout the local authority area would require approval of a ‘change of use’ to a STL from Planning. Our ‘Choices’ consultation responses for our next local development plan, ‘City Plan 2030’, also showed overwhelming support for us to look at control areas in the Capital.

Around a third of STLs in Scotland are in Edinburgh.  At the moment, in addition to planning applications made for STLs, to establish whether or not planning permission is required for properties where this is disputed, the Council’s enforcement team looks at each case individually, which is a very lengthy and time consuming process.

The introduction of powers to make a control area, follows the Council calling for new legislation to tighten up the control of STLs to help manage high concentrations of secondary letting where it affects the availability of residential housing or the character of a neighbourhood.

Also, it will help to restrict or prevent STLs in places or types of buildings where they are not appropriate as well as making sure homes are used to best effect in their areas.

Generally renting out a room/s in your house or letting your property whilst on holiday would also still be allowed if Edinburgh became a STL control zone.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on legislation to introduce a new licensing regime next year, which the Council also called for, to address the issues of safety, anti-social behaviour and noise. These issues have all had a detrimental effect on communities as the number of STLs has greatly increased across the city in recent years.

The proposal is that all Scottish councils will have to adopt a STL licensing system by October 2022. In terms of the Government’s proposed new licensing regime, if Edinburgh becomes a control area it will be a mandatory condition of any licensing application to have made a planning application or to have planning permission already when providing accommodation that requires it.


Further information
Q. What is a short term let?
A. Details can be found in Annex B of the Scottish Government’s Planning Circular on Short-Term Let Control Areas.

Q. How many STLs are Edinburgh?
A. There are a significant number of short-term lets in Edinburgh, with the Airbnb platform providing a useful indicator of the scale of this in the city. In the period 2016-2019 there was a substantial rise in the number of both entire properties and rooms registered with Airbnb. Relative to other areas in Scotland the number of Airbnb listings is high making the impact on the city disproportionate. In 2019, 31% of all Airbnb listings in Scotland were in the city of Edinburgh. The next greatest proportion was 19% in Highland followed by 7%.

Update on the traffic signals at Fairmilehead Crossroads

Below is an update on the traffic signals at Fairmilehead Crossroads. A few years ago I was promised that this junction would be completely overhauled, and that this could address the issues vehicles turning right from Buckstone Terrace on to Oxgangs Road face. This has now been “reprioritised”, but after a bit of fuss the Council has agreed to upgrade the signals infrastructure. As part of this the junction will be improved for pedestrians (esp those with visual impairments) and changes to the right turn on to Oxgangs Road will be considered.

I am also in the process of asking the Council about the very short green man time of the Biggar Road leg of the junction.

Fairmilehead Crossroads Update
Thank you for your enquiry of 18 August 2021 on behalf of your constituent regarding the introduction of a right turn filter into the traffic signal sequence at the above location.  I was sorry to hear of the issues your constituent is experiencing whilst traversing through the junction.

The traffic signal sequence currently has a right turn filter for vehicles turning from Biggar Road into Frogston Road West.  This movement has a very high flow with the opposing vehicles turning right into Oxgangs Road relatively low.

To allow for the introduction of two opposing right turn manoeuvres, they would need to be separately signalled on a red/amber/green signal and the north/south movements stopped to allow for this to happen.

Alternatively, the north/south movements would have to operate separately as per the current east west movement.  However, the current road layout does not allow for the separate signalling of the right turners.  If the north/south movement was to run separately this would lead to lengthy delays on all arms of the junction and an increase to pedestrian waiting times.

Although there are junction improvement works programmed for this location we are only upgrading the traffic signal infrastructure and not the actual junction constraints or road layout.

Like many junctions across the UK vehicles turning right into Oxgangs Road are expected to do so in gaps when it is safe to do so or at the end of the stage during the safety period from one stage leaving green to the next stage receiving a green signal (intergreen).  As a measure of comfort, the intergreen period for this manoeuvre has been increased by 40%.

As part of the junction improvement works, the junction timings will be looked at in detail to try and find any efficiency measures that can be introduced to improve the overall operation of the junction.  However, it should be noted that the current constraints of the junction layout may mean that it is operating as efficiently as it can.