Redevelopment of the RBS site bordering the park

Below is the response of the committee to the latest and final stage of the consultation process.  The formal application for Planning Permission in Principle is expected to be lodged sometime in April.  Depending on where you live you may receive neighbour notification of this from GVA James Barr the RBS agents.  There will then be three weeks in which to respond and the neighbour notification will give details of how to access the plans and comment on them.

Public Consultation Event – Land on Fettes Row/Royal Crescent/ Dundas Street and Eyre Place

February 2016

Response of the Friends of King George V and Scotland Yard Parks

A. Impact of buildings

The Friends of the King George V Park  regret the damage which the proposed encroaching buildings will deal the environment of the park with its atmosphere of sunlit seclusion.

The eight smallish three storey dispersed blocks previously proposed for the section of the current car park bordering the park to the south have now disappeared  These human scale blocks went some way towards  mitigating the impact of the five “finger blocks” descending from Royal Crescent which would otherwise have  overwhelmed the park.  Worse, these five relatively slender blocks have been replaced by four coffin shaped blocks, nearly twice the size,  which will bear down brutally on the park from the south to a point little short of the line of the existing sheds.  A narrow crescent shaped buffer zone is all that is proposed to shield the park from the overshadowing impact of these massive blocks.  Tapering of the upper floors will do nothing to minimise their looming presence.  From the level of the park they will rear up to a height of eight storeys, a few metres from the park fence.  

To compound this, all the smaller, presumably three storey, blocks dispersed throughout the core of the site in the earlier plans have also been swept away.  The regrettably already consented  four to five storey block on the northern section of the park’s western boundary has now been extended along its full length.

The park will be deprived of south and west light, increasing belts of shade substantially. Its soft border of trees will be closely backed by the unforgiving solidity of multi storeyed  buildings. Most of what gives the park its current charm will be lost.  It should be remembered that this park is the only community park in the New Town and in the southern half of Inverleith ward, the only public open space available for recreation. It must not be degraded by overdevelopment of the adjoining land.

B. Affordable housing

We are anxious that the piece of prime real estate constituted by the site should not be developed as a potentially socially sterile investment opportunity and urge that developers are not allowed any opportunity to dodge their minimal statutory obligation to designate 25% of the accommodation as affordable housing. The park is an invaluable amenity and we want it to be readily accessible to people of all ages, and all levels of ability and income. Moreover, we urge that a preponderance of the accommodation should be designed to offer two/three or even four bedrooms and be suitable for families.  All too many of the three to four bedroom flats in the nearby Georgian and Victorian terraces are now priced beyond the means of the average family reducing the diversity of the local population. Favouring family accommodation would help to redress this social imbalance.

C. Greening, opening up of the site

We welcomed the generous proportion of green space to building plot which was proposed in the second exhibition.  We thought that this went some way towards restoring the balance of open ground versus hard surface in the site overall, in the wake of PPP consent having already been granted for building on land on Eyre Place which had for many years been designated “protected open space” in the Local Plan.  Sadly, the latest proposals indicate a marked reduction in the provision of open space and of opportunites for planting.  With the subsuming of all the smaller buildings in the core of the site into monolithic blocks a lot of  opportunities for visually opening up the scheme have been lost. Elements of the previously much vaunted pedestrian permeability have been lost.  The site is being over developed.

D.Vehicular access

We are sceptical of the figures adduced for projected traffic movement in and out of the site via the sole designated route of Eyre Terrace and Eyre Place.  While these figures, once development has been completed, may prove accurate for private cars do they take into account delivery vehicles, tradesmen’s vans, service trucks or taxis (should in the latter case the option of hotel development be taken up)?

The period of demolition and construction will lead to a high volume of seriously onerous  traffic, with the removal of spoil and the importing of construction materials and heavy plant.  For this to have Eyre Terrace and Eyre Place as its only route in and out of the site is unrealistic.  We strongly urge that a short term entry and exit point is created in Dundas Street, using the line of the public space and the road/shared use surface proposed for the core of the site.  

We are concerned about the amount of traffic movement, especially of larger service vehicles, which will be generated along the path close to the fence on the south side of the park, presumably requiring to use a turning circle at the east end of the path.  Traffic noise and fuel emissions in such close proximity to the park will be unsafe, unwelcome and unacceptable.  Indeed the mix of traffic and pedestrians in the site seems not to have been adequately addressed so far.  

In an effort to cover all eventualities it is perhaps worth stating here that we believe there should be an absolute prohibition on any attempt to use part of the park, however peripheral,  as a route into the site.  The section of the park adjacent to the development site is a King George V National Playing Field, protected in perpetuity as space for recreation and sport, within the custodianship of Fields in Trust (formerly the National Playing Fields Association).  

E.Trees

It is vital that the trees on the southern boundary of the park should receive the statutory level of protection for trees in a conservation area while construction is carried out.  We are aware that most of these trees are of poor quality but they are worth being designated as of “high amenity”value. Long term, however, they are unlikely to provide much protection for the park if the buildings currently being proposed for the car park with their inappropriate bulk do sadly receive consent.  

F.Supporting documents

We hope that the section in the Environmental Statement covering Daylight, Sunlight and Overshadowing will be required to include the park and not just neighbouring properties.  We also  hope that the poor drainage of the park  as well as of the site will receive attention.

Judy Conn,  Secretary

4th March 2016

 

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About Andy

This is for the Friends of King George V and Scotland Yard Parks in Edinburgh
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