DRAFT WEST EDINBURGH PLANNING FRAMEWORK
Overview of consultation responses
1. On 23 August 2002, the Executive, jointly with The City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and the Lothians, published a consultation draft West Edinburgh Planning Framework. It sets out a long-term strategic vision for the area. This report provides an overview of the consultation responses.
2. Over 1000 copies of the consultation draft were distributed to all local authorities, a wide range of public bodies, community organisations and business interests. The document was made available on the planning pages of the Scottish Executive website. Presentations on the contents of the draft Planning Framework were given to community councils in west Edinburgh, The City of Edinburgh Council's Local Development Committee (West) and the Edinburgh Civic Forum. The consultation period closed on 15 November 2002, but a number of responses were received after the closing date. These have all been taken into account.
3. There were 73 responses in total. These come from a wide range of interests, which can be broken down into the following categories:
Business and commercial interests
Community organisations and the public
4. A full list of respondents is set out in the Annex. Copies of the responses are available for inspection at the Scottish Executive Library (Saughton House, Broomhouse Drive, Edinburgh, EH11 3XD), although two have been submitted confidentially. For an appointment please contact Mr Alan Gold (0131 244 4553). A detailed digest of responses is available on the Scottish Executive Planning Homepage http://www.scotland.gov.uk/planning/
5. The responses have shown very strong support for the strategic aims of the Planning Framework. There was also widespread support for the efforts made to provide a co-ordinated approach to planning and transport in west Edinburgh. It is nevertheless possible to identify a number of issues of concern. These are explained below, together with the Executive's response.
- A number of responses argued that the Planning Framework does not cover a large enough area. Some would like to see the inclusion of a number of neighbouring sites. Others were arguing for more detailed consideration of wider east central Scotland issues and the redistribution of growth.
6. The focus of the Planning Framework is the A8 corridor although the wider impacts have been taken into account. The map showing the main focus of the Planning Framework is indicative only. The National Planning Framework and proposed City Region Plans will be the vehicle for addressing many of the wider strategic issues.
- There were also a number of suggestions that the Planning Framework should deal more explicitly with housing issues. The concerns was that the Planning Framework would lead to increased long distance in-commuting
7. The Planning Framework focuses on a small geographical area, mainly consisting of Green Belt, transport and employment related land uses. Housing land issues and wider settlement strategy will be for the emerging Edinburgh and the Lothians Structure Plan to address. In response to the point about in commuting, it is important to point out that the priority for the Framework will be to facilitate more sustainable transport options.
- Representatives of the local communities have expressed concerns that the local interests and social impacts of proposals have not been properly taken into account.
8. The Vision contained within the Planning Framework is for the protection and enhancement of the special qualities that have combined to make West Edinburgh a national asset. The Planning Framework envisages significant investment in public transport combined with continued protection of the Green Belt. Whilst a wide range of other economic, environmental and social issues facing West Edinburgh have been considered as part of the work, the strategic nature of the Planning Framework means that not all the local issues can be addressed in detail. It should also be remembered that any further development in West Edinburgh would still be subject to normal Development Plan and Development Control processes, during which the usual scrutiny and opportunity to get involved will be provided.
- The Planning Framework does not at any point mention cycling and walking issues.
9. Walking and cycling will form an important component of any sustainable transport solution to West Edinburgh. The finalised version gives more explicit mention of this.
- A number of responses argued that the emphasis given to the environment protection and enhancement are not given a high enough priority. It is also argued that the draft misses an opportunity to promote positive enhancement of landscape and environmental quality.
10. The Planning Framework is clear in stating that development in West Edinburgh must incorporate the most sustainable principles and high quality design and construction standards. The vision for West Edinburgh includes measures to introduce more environmentally sustainable modes of transport. It also reinforces protection over the Green Belt to 2020 and in promotes its careful planning and management in the longer term. Whilst the principle of promoting the enhancement of the landscape and environmental quality of West Edinburgh is also strongly supported, it will mainly be for Development Plans and future work and study to prescribe exactly how this is to be achieved.
- It has been suggested that the Framework should reflect national policy on reducing road congestion as set out in Scotland's Transport: Delivering Improvements and The City of Edinburgh Council's Local Transport Strategy. Similarly, it has been suggested that the Framework could set general mode share targets.
11. Policies on congestion and mode share targets exist as a transport policy context for the Planning Framework although more explicit reference has been made to them.
- Some responses argued that support to further development of the Gyle Centre is inconsistent with stated council policy and NPPG8
12. The Planning Framework promotes further retail development at the Gyle Shopping Centre consistent with Structure Plan policy and in association with enhanced public transport accessibility and a wider range of supporting leisure and community facilities. Individual planning applications will therefore still need to be considered against stated Council policy and NPPG8.
- It has been suggested by a significant number of private sector interests that the vision is not bold enough and that postponing development until 2020 is a missed opportunity. It is argued that land release should take place either after transport infrastructure is in place or in parallel with investment in transport infrastructure.
13. The Scottish Ministers have recognised West Edinburgh as a unique opportunity in Scotland to create an international business location. But this cannot happen until strategic transport improvements are in place first. The priority is to ensure accessibility and competitive advantage is not threatened in the long term by the adverse transport impacts of development already committed. Other considerations are the long lead in time of these transport projects and the labour supply shortages expected in Lothian. It is also necessary to ensure that committed investments elsewhere are not prejudiced through displacement from other core development areas, which is likely as a result of the very large supplies of employment land in Edinburgh and the Lothians.
- It has been suggested that the Planning Framework does not give a clear enough policy steer on the future of the Airport or Royal Highland Showground.
14. The Planning Framework recognises the important role played by the Airport and the Royal Highland Showground. The long-term future of this area is being considered as part of a consultation on the Future Development of Air Services in the UK, due to conclude with the publication of an Aviation White Paper in 2003/4. Also relevant are the Rail Links to Airports Study, along with proposals by The City of Edinburgh Council for a West Edinburgh Tram. The Planning Framework simply seeks to safeguard various options for strategic transport improvement at this stage. As decisions on these schemes are made elsewhere and the land use implications become clearer, the Framework will clearly need to be refined and updated.
- Support for clearer steer on use of planning agreements (Stakeholders, speculators, SRA)
15. The standard arrangements for planning agreements as set out in Circular 12/1996 will apply.
- There were a number of concerns and suggestions related to next steps and the need for stronger commitments by the Executive on transport delivery, further study and masterplanning.
16. The Scottish Ministers are committed to the implementation of the Vision for West Edinburgh. They recognise that addressing the issues and realising the opportunities presented in West Edinburgh will not be achieved with publication of the Planning Framework alone. An early task will be to reflect the Vision into Development Plans. Good progress is also being made on transport delivery. The finalised version gives a clearer steer on action required to implement and deliver the Planning Framework, including an undertaking to review and update the Planning Framework in light of progress with transport delivery and the Aviation White Paper.
- There were several requests from respondents to be included in the Stakeholders Advisory Group.
17. The Stakeholders Advisory Group was set up to inform the early stages of the drafting process. It was made up of key public and private sector interests operating in the area. A decision was made to meet speculative developers and wider land holding interests bilaterally on request. Comments were also invited on a consultation draft and all those who responded were also invited to a seminar. The Scottish Executive welcomes the efforts made by all the stakeholders to engage positively in the process and is keen to maintain dialogue with them as work to implement the Vision for West Edinburgh continues.