Tag Archives: Council Policy

Objection to Planning ref 21/02434/FUL – Pipe Lane

Living Streets is the UK Charity for Everyday Walking. Living Streets Edinburgh Group aims to promote walking as the safe, enjoyable and easy way of getting around Edinburgh.

These comments on this application are from Living Streets Edinburgh Group.
https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/get-involved/local-groups/edinburgh

Scottish Planning Policy clearly sets out the hierarchy for transport modes (para 273) – walking, cycling, public transport and finally private cars in that order. It goes on to say that planning permission should not be granted for significant travel-generating uses (para 287) at locations which would increase reliance on the car, where walking and cycling networks are not available, and where public transport to local facilities involves walking more than 400m. Designing Streets: A Policy Statement for Scotland reinforces this policy and clearly states (pg15) that the street user hierarchy should consider pedestrians first and private motor vehicles last. The National Transport Strategy states (pg5) that walking, cycling and shared transport take precedence ahead of private car use. It goes on to illustrate this position with reference to The Sustainable Travel Hierarchy (Fig14 pg43) – walking and wheeling, cycling, public transport, taxis & shared transport, private car. So, the Scottish Government position is quite clear that people walking and wheeling are the priority, with the expectation that this is delivered by developers and local authorities via their planning and highways functions.

The City of Edinburgh Council Local Development Plan 2016 does not articulate or follow this national policy as it should, but there are references within it to providing for walking and cycling, new road space not encouraging greater car use, bringing accessibility by and use of non-car modes up to acceptable levels, opportunities for ‘car free’ housing developments e.g Policy Des 7, Policy Tra 1, Policy Tra 2. The Council has adopted Street Design Guidance which has much useful content and is stated as embracing Scottish Government’s Designing Streets document, but it is not always adhered to in practice.

The recent consultation on CityPlan 2030 has highlighted a wide preference for development of brownfield sites, greater provision for walking and cycling, reduced use of private cars and less car parking provision. The Council is currently proceeding to draft the next Local Development Plan on this basis and in 2020 stated that ‘pedestrians are at the top of the urban transport hierarchy.’

The COVID-19 pandemic, although a dreadful event, has provided an opportunity for people to take stock and consider what is important to them. There have already been changes to the way we all live and work, and the likelihood is that much of this, as reflected in the CityPlan 2030 consultation, will be here to stay.

Scottish Government Policy has clearly articulated walking as a priority for several years, whist developers and the Council have at best paid it lip service and often ignored it completely. Now that emerging Council planning policy and public expectations are becoming aligned with national policy it is vital that the opportunity is taken to reset the clock and reflect this in all planning decisions.

Having set out the context for consideration of this application, and without commenting on other non-walking aspects, Living Streets Edinburgh Group makes the following constructive comments:

  • The location of the site in Portobello is extremely accessible by walking, cycling and public transport.
  • The site adjoins the seafront and is accessed by a network of narrow streets already congested with parked vehicles.
  • The additional vehicle movements will compound an existing unsatisfactory situation when there is no need to do so.
  • The site therefore justifies a car free development which is permitted by Council policy and it is requested that approval is only granted if the parking spaces are removed, other than for disabled parking, and this will in turn give scope for more landscaping and amenity space.
  • The Council now acknowledges that pedestrians are at the top of the urban transport hierarchy, so to accord with Council expectations the proposals must reflect this position.

LSEG response to Council review of communal waste bins

CEC COMMUNAL WASTE BINS REVIEW Project: Comments from the Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG)

LSEG welcomes the current review of the location of Communal Waste Bins in the city, and the intention to create bin hubs and rationalise the scattered locations of the various types of bin. Under existing conditions there are far too many such bins that are poorly located or left mislocated on pavements, so creating unnecessary obstacles for pedestrians. In numerous instances they also collect other clutter items around them.  This review is timely in the context of the covid virus with  heightened concern over clutter and the need for more space on pavements to allow social distancing. The reduction of bin clutter is also central to the realisation of the council administration’s objective (27), to tackle clutter and pavement parking.

We have a number of questions and concerns however, about the specifics of the review and how successfully they will be translated into practice.

One particular concern is the intention to go with wheeled communal bins everywhere, rather than the ones with fixed positions that can then be lifted automatically with the lorry correctly alongside. The latter are all in the carriageway of necessity and, unlike wheeled bins, cannot be left out of position on pavements! Given the frequency with which wheeled bins are currently so left as obstacles to pedestrian movement, both on pavements and in the carriageway where blocking crossing points, we would wish to see fixed positions retained wherever this is practicable.

As of now wheeled bins are to be found out of position all over the city. Even when in the carriageway they are often to be seen too close to junctions or where they obstruct dropped kerb crossing points for pedestrians or block cycle lanes. They are left there after emptying by contractors, or they are subsequently moved or sometimes blown there.  Can we please therefore be informed as to what additional measures will be taken to ensure that bins are repositioned within the defined hub positions? Under the current regime, even where there are defined areas for bin location, all too often these are ignored or treated as only approximate indicators.  We are not convinced that the new bin hub settings will be sufficient to ensure that contractors do correctly reposition the bins. So without exception the hubs should be in roadway rather than on pavements. If gradients are a problem for this then regrading of the carriageway is the answer, not putting bins on pavements. Where there is a sufficient excess of pavement space to allow bin hubs to be located there without inconveniencing pedestrians, then it would be acceptable for that space to be used, but it must then be regraded to carriageway level in the process; otherwise there will still be out of position bins rolling around on pavements.

The current review is seen to only be covering communal bins. It does not embrace the residential or trade waste bins that are equally of concern for pedestrians, given that these bins are also frequently left on pavements for periods of time out of all proportion to the needs for collection, and in excess of the times authorised by the CEC.  We call for a complementary review to be undertaken of ways to reduce the problems and clutter associated with these bins also.

There are problems arising from both residents and retailers leaving bins out permanently or semi-permanently in some cases, and for excessively long periods in many others. The situation with trade waste bins does seem to have been improved somewhat over recent years, but the levels of regulatory and enforcement activities are still far from adequate. Woeful conditions for pedestrians are being created on pavements as a result, whereby wheelchair users and other vulnerable pedestrians are at times simply unable to use them. Council policy should make it clear that residential bins must be left on the roadway side of the kerb where the pavement width is less than 1.5m. The council should also seek powers to levy fines on residents who leave bins out permanently.

In many instances residents’ bins are also left blocking pavements after emptying by the contractors, and it is clear that insufficient efforts are being made to encourage compliance with or to enforce the rules. At the very least there surely should be clear instructions that emptied bins must not be left anywhere on pavements narrower than 2m, with penalties introduced for contractors who fail to ensure that their staff follow this in practice. Equally if bins are replaced on pavements where they are wider than 2m, there should be penalties imposed for placing them in obstructive positions.

 

There is also a need for the current review to be followed up with a much wider review aimed at minimising the extent to which bins of all kinds are located on streets in Edinburgh, where space is so often limited and in demand for multiple other uses, and in scarce supply for pedestrians in particular. There is potential for bins to be relocated off street in many places, and for space demands to be reduced by underground storage; as can be seen in a number of the cities with which Edinburgh both competes (e.g. for tourism) and likes to compare itself with. It is accepted that underground storage can be too expensive and will not be an option everywhere, but opportunities to introduce it arise continually in association with development and redevelopment processes, and CEC should initiate a system to take these opportunities.

This wider review should also embrace the waste management objectives set out in the finalised Edinburgh City Centre Transformation report of 12 September 2019, which approved early action to address waste collection through “operating plans for residential, commercial and public waste collection, including operators, vehicle restrictions, time restrictions and consolidation” (para 5.3.5). Potentially these plans will help deliver the aspirations in the ECCT to make a more walkable city, less dominated by traffic, especially heavy vehicles. 26 ton bin lorries have no place in many of Edinburgh’s streets and alternative ways of collecting waste must be explored, as already agreed by the Council.

Objection to TRO/19/50 – One Way – Braidburn Crescent and Braidburn Terrace

This is to register a formal objection to traffic order TRO/19/50, as it is still currently advertised, on behalf of the Living Streets Edinburgh Group. Our objection is to the Braidburn Terrace proposals as drafted, which prioritise cycling and  parking provision over even the most basic standards for pedestrians. This is despite of the stated policy priorities of both the Scottish Government and CEC to place walking at the top of the priorities list for modes of travel. It is therefore in direct conflict with Council policy, and with the Sustainable Transport Hierarchy as now embeded within the Scottish Transport Strategy (NTS2,Feb. 2020)

We would support the proposal for Braidburn Terrace to become one-way for vehicular traffic, but only if the use of the extra space made available from the carriageway is devoted to a package of improvements that includes pavement widening, and junction designs with crossing facilities that favour pedestrians.

Specifically we object to the failure to upgrade the pavement width along the north side of Braidburn Terrace to an absolute minimum of 2 metres, as specified in the CEC’s own Street Design Guidance.  We also object to the failure to provide raised crossing facilities at the entrances to and from Braidburn Terrace that are aligned with pedestrian desire lines and define adequate priority for pedestrians over cyclists. We further object to the extent of the proposed shared space facilities for pedestrians with cyclists, and in particular to the proposals along Braid Road.

We understand that revised proposals have already been prepared, and assume that these will be advertised in due course, once the current emergency lockdown conditions are lifted and life and CEC business can return to something more normal. We look forward to being able to input comments on these revised proposals.

Pedestrian Campaign Gives Cautious Welcome To Council Street Shake-Up Plan

City of Edinburgh Council plans to re-organise street management have been given a cautious welcome by the pedestrian campaigning group, Living Streets Edinburgh [1]. The Council’s Transport & Environment Committee meets on 10 August to consider a report which brands current street management arrangements as ‘unfit for purpose’ and proposes a new streamlined arrangement to look after roads and pavements. David Spaven, the Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh, commented:

 

‘We’ve been monitoring the state of Edinburgh’s streets for years, and it’s fair to say that many are currently a shambles, with broken pavements [3] full of all kinds of clutter. In the run-up to the Council elections earlier this year, we called on all the parties to back a big shake-up in street management [2] with joined-up and accountable responsibility for looking after our streets, spotting faults and ensuring that they are fixed quickly. Much better conditions for walking – including wide, well-maintained and clutter-free pavements – are the key to making the city’s public realm much more civilised, and safer.

 

‘We welcome the Council’s recognition that the inspection and fixing of street faults is currently not working properly and that plans to improve efficiency and co-ordination are being brought forward. However, it’s not yet clear how far this new set-up will help to transform conditions for pedestrians – the new Roads Services Improvement Plan mentions ‘roads’ over 50 times, but ‘pavements’ on just five occasions.’

Photos below by Living Streets Edinburgh illustrate pavement problems across the city:

 

LSE delighted at proposal for fundamental review of Advertising Board Policy

Living Streets Edinburgh is delighted that the City Council’s Transport and Environment Committee is being recommended to back undertaking a strategic review of the growing problem of A-board clutter across the city. As the Committee paper – http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/53632/item_76_-_a_boards  – acknowledges:

Concerns have been raised by organisations including community councils, Living Streets and the Council’s Access Panel that street clutter is impeding the ability for pedestrians to move through the city safely, and that the situation is worsening.’

Feedback from our supporters shows that A-boards:

  • are widely disliked by the public
  • narrow the walking space on pavements, often contravening the Council’s own Street Design Guidance
  • cause obstructions and sometimes hazards, for example for visually impaired people, which is potentially unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

Since organising – in conjunction with Tollcross Community Council and the Edinburgh Access Panel members – a representative street audit at Tollcross in late 2015, we have been pressing the City Council to undertake just such a strategic review of policy – and its enforcement. http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/consultation-responses/street-audit-tollcross-edinburgh/street-audit-tollcross-edinburgh-summary-of-recommendations/

If Councillors back the recommendation, we will be fully consulted by officers. Other UK cities have undertaken such reviews, with the result that A-boards are licensed, better controlled or simply banned.  Edinburgh’s review should cover what should be allowed on which streets and how the rules are enforced. The issue has wider implications of course – on the quality of public space in the city, the vitality of its businesses and the potential for better Council management of our streets – the latter being one of the four proposals in our ‘Manifesto for Walking’ in the run-up to the Council Elections in May. at http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/12/21/living-streets-edinburgh-manifesto-for-walking/ ‘