Friday, 27 October 2017

Meeting about the Sick Kids site

Last week I notified readers about a meeting organised by the Marchmont & Sciennes Development Trust about the future of the Sick Kids site.  If you are not up to date with the background, see the three links in my last post.

At the meeting earlier this week four representatives of the Marchmont and Sciennes Development Trust gave a detailed account of the events which led up to their application for a community buy out under recent Scottish Government legislation being rejected.  Well, it was not formally rejected - rather, because of complexities of meeting the legislative requirements, stage one of the bid was not submitted until after NHS Lothian had reached a deal with the Downing Group, who now, subject to missives, own the site.

Andrew, Akiko, Nathan and Tom from the MSDT were very factual and, as I say, measured, and were now looking for support to go forward with negotiations with Downing on the possibility of getting access to a small part of the property or some of the Affordable Housing tranche with a view to doing something based on local common ownership.  That is for negotiation with the new owners.

Downing will now produce plans as a basis for local consultation before submitting planning permission for the site.

In advance of those plans being presented I felt it was appropriate to make contact with the developers at this early stage, with the view that the following should be a significant part of their considered
  • Whilst a mixed development is to be welcomed,  devoting 40-50% to student housing would be too much. (A meeting between representatives of the MSDT and Marchmont & Sciennes Community Council had suggested this figure was part of their preliminary plans.)
  • The development should not be too high particularly where it might overshadow neighbouring properties.
  • Opportunities to make provision for enhancing facilities for the overcrowded neighbouring Sciennes Primary School will be welcomed.
  • There is a need to prevent unnecessary delays.  The last thing we want is a major site which lies unused and unoccupied for a lengthy period of time.  I know how planning and other wrangles can lead to lengthy delays
I reported that at the meeting.  

A couple of other brief points from the meeting.
  • Issues related to the process and the reasons for the failure of the bid are not priority matters at the moment.  Concern was expressed about the new Community Right to Buy legislation and how fit for purpose it is
  • There were some (ill informed, I believe) comments about Affordable Housing not being provided by developments on site or not provided at all.  I am currently sourcing information from recent planning history to clarify these claims.
I'll keep you updated when the initial plans are published and details of the consultation events.

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