NEW TOWN NORTH – IMPACT ON THE PARK
Planning Applications due early September
A total of three planning applications is scheduled to be submitted to the Council very shortly. One will relate to demolition of all existing buildings. A second to development of the site as a whole and the third will deal only with the proposed new entrance to the park in its south west corner (this is a separate application because it will involve work within the park on land in public ownership). A completely separate application will be lodged at a later date and this will deal with the detail of the future of the trees.
We will alert all those members for whom we have an email address when the applications are finally advertised, on the Council’s planning portal, at which point we will have three weeks in which to respond with comments. Each application will require a separate response. The planning portal has guidance about which issues are considered material and therefore constitute valid grounds for consideration by the planners.
- Trees: As stated above, detailed proposals will be subject to a separate application at a later date. Sadly, a professional forester has confirmed that a depressing number of trees in the park are dying or in a critical condition. We are therefore resigned to a necessary and significant reduction of the density of the existing tree belt. However, we believe that no trees should be removed simply to accommodate the developers’ plans. Replacements should include trees likely to have significant landscape value and all must be subject to a legally enforceable maintenance programme
- Buildings: six-storey buildings placed close to the south and west boundary of the park will have a brutal effect on it. Maximum tree screening is essential. The conflict between the interests of park users and those of the developers who will wish to provide the purchasers of their flats with an unimpeded view of the park must be resolved in favour of the former.
- Scale of Development: 340 new residences are currently envisaged, with the possibility of more if a proposed hotel in Dundas Street proves unviable and the site is repurposed for housing as already suggested by the developers. This will bring an influx of several hundred new residents who could subject the adjacent park to undue pressure, when it is already less than half the size recommended for this part of the city in the Council’s Open Space Strategy. The scale of the development is, of course, also responsible for the height and bulk of the buildings.
- Movement of cyclists and pedestrians through the park: if the proposed new entrance to the south west of the park receives consent, careful consideration will be needed to configure the way cyclists and pedestrians access the park and the Nation Cycle Route. We would oppose the creation of any new path which cuts across currently uninterrupted recreational space.
- Boundary definition: we believe it is imperative that there is a clear distinction between public (the park) and private (the development) space. It must be defined by a fence and maximum planting of shrubbery and trees. The illustrations so far provided by the developers indicate a disturbing seamlessness, with minimal planting mitigating the impact on the park of the hard surfaces of buildings.
- Ground between the crescent blocks on the site of the car park: this is now going to be completely gated private land. So no extra public open space is to be made available contrary to the developers’ stated intentions.
26th August 2020