.
Cartoon by George Robinson

Edinburgh City Centre Residents seeking to  maintain / improve  the quality of their lives
Keep your EAR to the ground

The people to blame
Burned after torching car
Developer money
Housing market on brink
Aerial pic of Fountain North Site Another Edinburgh Play Area closed Reasons for cutting down trees Fountain North Car Wash
Asbestos 1 Asbestos 2 House price bubble Fire-raising?
The Social Landlord Money Week Editor on house prices Meet the planners - 1 Un-let office space
Probe into Common Good Land Some questions and answers Some links elsewhere The BIG plan
Planning bids not checked A Clean Air Plan About Gardyloo Edinburgh At Risk

October 4th 2008
Edinburgh Citizen's Advice service

Plans to restructure the Edinburgh Citizen's Advice service, which provides free advice on almost any subject for Edinburgh's community, were announced in September 2008, and caused a massive protest among volunteers and politicians. Under the plans (which are currently on hold pending a full consultation), Gorgie / Dalry Leith, Pilton and Portobello offices will all shut, with operations being centralised at Dundas Street. CAE (Citizen's Advice Edinburgh) have blamed a lack of local authority funding for this move, whilst Edinburgh City Council claim that CAE made a committment to continue to run the Advice Bureaus in their current fashion.

This petition will register popular opinion against the move to close these vital local services. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/edinburghcab/

September 22nd 2008
What will the credit crunch mean for the Springside development and residents in the area?

A good question which must be causing some concern to Grosvenor, AMA and the Royal Bank.  According to AMA Scotland and Springside.co.uk only 17 properties out of 58 have been pre-sold as at 22/09/2008. List prices range from two bedroomed top floor penthouses at Inglis Point £585,000 to a £199,000 first floor one bedroom flat at Jex-Blake House.  This may come down to a lack of marketing. According to Alexa.com, the Springside.co.uk has a traffic rank of: 4,006,033.

As state bail-outs for the big boys appears to be the order of the day Gardyloo wonders if the developers will end up begging the Scottish parliament to buy hard to sell property for use as social housing. Pity there are so few family homes in the plan.
Springside site at 20080715



With over one third of the total area given over to green and open space, Springside has been designed to make the most of this shared area.

(on left - how it was)


Previously unseen vistas will open and show just how much of the city is currently isolated and cut off, revealing the vast potential for stitching this area of the city back together. ”

Andrew Wilmot, Oberlanders
The above comments are to be found at http://www.springside.co.uk

Slowdown fears threaten new offices

Scotsman 14-07-2008

A huge expansion to Edinburgh's main financial district may be shelved due to fears of a slowdown in the capital's office market.

Reviews have been ordered to two major developments in the Fountainbridge area – one of the biggest regeneration areas in the city.

Work on new commercial offices on the site of the former Scottish & Newcastle brewery, which was due to get under way last month, has been put off indefinitely. It is understood a hotel development is now considered a better financial option for the site.

The owner of a neighbouring site where work on new homes and offices was due to get under way months ago has also put the project on hold. The transformation of the site of the old brewery social club – on the banks of the Union Canal – is understood to have been postponed for the foreseeable future. About 170 new homes are also planned along with a new pedestrian bridge over the canal.

But industry insiders say there are growing fears about the impact of the credit crunch. It is also thought the deal by banking giant HBOS to snap up another former S&N building for a major new headquarters complex will lead to an over-supply of office space.

One source said: "A year ago this part of Edinburgh was a safe bet for new office space. Now, it's far from certain that there will be enough demand to justify what is effectively an extension of the financial district.

"Developers are likely to wait until schemes that are already coming out of the ground are completed before committing to building anything else in an area like this."

Another insider said: "HBOS's deal with S&N has changed the whole complexion of what this area may look like. The bank is unlikely to need all of its site for its own purposes and Fountainbridge could end up with too much office space."

Work is already under way on new homes and a student housing development as part of the Springside development, where the hotel is now being considered by the developers, Grosvenor and AMA and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The developers may reserve space on the site for offices if the market improves in the next few years.

Friday 11th July 2008

Height of the proposed hotel at Haymarket, EdinburghOn the left is a very rapid lash-up to raise debate about the continued practice of distorting views in architect's graphics.

An image section, taken from an 18 multi-storey block at Sighthill is has been superimposed onto  an  image  of the proposed 21 Haymarket storey hotel recently presented to the public.

The red line shows the approximate height of existing four storey buildings.

Which is the more honest representation of the proposed massing and impact on the area?

Don't forget to add some storeys to the image on the right which is another paste-up of height massing on the Haymarket area


 
Haymarket - a new perspewctive on the massive planned hotel



Time to start asking questions about the sale of common good land and sections 75
June30th 2009 Andy Wightman

It is approaching the time of year when Local Authority accounts are open to formal statutory public inspection. This is a good opportunity to make a formal complaint if the accounts do not properly record the assets of your common good fund.

Please go to http://www.scottishcommons.org/news.htm and look at the 23 June entry - you'll see links to a briefing on how to do this etc.

Please circulate this widely - would be good to up the number of complaints this year.
Tyre slashing vandals in the area
23 June 2008 - By Andrew Picken - Edinburgh Evening News

Vandals have gone on a tyre slashing spree in the city centre, near the financial area and Springside. At least a dozen cars had their tyres cut overnight in what residents today described as "mindless" attacks.

The cars were parked along Gardner's Crescent, Rosebank Cottages and Viewforth. The attacks at Rosebank Cottages were indiscriminate with sports cars and family saloons targeted alike.

“Edinburgh is at greater risk than it has been since the 1960`s”
Conservation Architect James Simpson OBE (ICOMOS newsletter Spring 2008)
Saturday 31st May 10 - 4pm

The Canongate Project shop at 8 St Mary’s Street, just off The Royal Mile.

Come and find out what’s going on in the city of Edinburgh and its surrounding areas.

Have you concerns about proposed developments, demolitions of buildings, disappearing green spaces and management of Common Good Land and Assets?

Don’t know what to do?

Come and meet others who have concerns and find what they are doing.



Who is this?
EAR was founded by a number of Edinburgh campaigns in 2007 and is a non-political umbrella organisation
open to all who value the city’s communities, culture, history and her future.

Campaigns involved so far include Save Our Old Town, Save Meadowbank, Orroco Pier (South Queensferry), Porty Greenkeepers, and Save Glenogle Baths.

Come along to The Canongate Project shop at 8 St Mary’s Street, just off The Royal Mile.

Stay for entire day or drop in at whatever time suits you.

Films, workshops and discussions etc

More at http://www.eh8.org.uk
This sick old fellow either represents a developer like Manish Chande, CEO Mountgrange Capital, who has been bashed around by the economic climate and the absence of friends on the council, or depicts battered Edinburgh - you choose...
Saturday 29th March 2008

The idea that house prices only ever go up is deeply embedded into the British mentality.  The realization that prices can fall too will only dawn upon people slowly.    The danger has to be, however, that eventually the British public will overreact.  As we told yesterday, overreaction from the individuals involved is about the one thing all economic cycles, booms and crashes have in common. The real danger sits with buy-to-let investing. A recent report from the Halifax found that the average total return for a buy-to-let investor was 16.3 per cent in the year to December 2007.  Of that return, 5.4 per cent came in the form of yield. 

Now, let’s assume that voids, agent fees, and maintenance costs come to, say, 1 per cent of a property’s value. If Capital Economics is right, and house prices fall by 5 per cent this year, then buy-to-let investing, even for investors who don’t even have a mortgage, will make a loss.

In an environment in which demand for properties is low, it will only take a small rise in supply to tip the market over the edge.  If some buy-to-let investors conclude that house prices are likely to fall, and that their business will make a loss for a couple of years, they may well be tempted to liquidate.  This could in turn lead to even bigger falls, creating even less confidence. Capital Economics’ projections of 8 per cent falls next year could end up looking like naive optimism.

Thursday 20th March 2008

Interest in Springside seems to be flagging if the ranking of their expensive hoop web site is an indicator.

Over the past three months visitors to  springside.co.uk has dropped by 40% according to Alexa and the site ranking has fallen to 4,453,197 - a drop of 1,717,363.

Is the business going to Quartermile instead?  - qmile.com has risen in the rankings to number 2,754,504 a leap of 1,250,416 or 181%.

The council's Waterfront development waterfront-ed.com is static at the 4,084,747th most viewed web-site.

Plenty of free city centre parking when you are in the know

Free parking at the West End?
Edinburgh's trams may be causing congestion and the removal of many pay as you go parking spaces but that doesn't seem to worry these lucky folks. Presumably these vehicles are need for the construction work or is a first come first served deal?
Empty office space on the rise in Capital
Evening News March 15th 2008

More office space is lying empty in the Capital now than in any year since 2003, new research has revealed.
Property firm CB Richard Ellis's annual review of commercial property has found that there is currently 2.4 million square feet of office space available in Edinburgh. See here for up-to-date links and figures

It means that Edinburgh has double the amount of space available in the central business district of Glasgow.

Are AMA, Grosvenor and Co being Gazumped?

The Scotsman March 4th 2008

The banking giant HBOS is planning to create a massive new global headquarters' complex in Edinburgh city centre, The Scotsman has learned.

The company is in advanced talks to buy a historic former brewery site in Fountainbridge for a state-of-the-art base for around 6,000 staff.

HBOS confirmed last night that it had entered exclusive talks with Scottish & Newcastle to snap up the site of the former Fountain Brewery, which closed in June 2005. The bank hopes to have the development up and running within five years.

But the move, which would transform the brewery sites on the banks of the Union Canal, has gazumped two development companies that have spent years negotiating with the brewer over the prime sites.

more from http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/latestnews/HBOS-unveils-plans-for-global.3838380.jp
An important web site to bookmark and an organisation to join
03-03-2008

You can make a Freedom of Information request to Edinburgh Council here:

http://foi.mysociety.org/new/185

Hopefully by having requests in public, we will help put pressure on them to answer them well!

Community service for teen who burned face while torching car
29-02-08 - Edinburgh Evening News

A teenager who burned his face while setting fire to a car has been ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service. Daryl Ness, 19, was left screaming in agony when the fuel vapour exploded back at him, leaving him with serious burns to his face neck and hand.

His friend tried to cover up what had happened by telling police Ness had been attacked by a someone wielding a blowtorch.

Sheriff Fiona Reith said she could have jailed Ness for the fire-raising but was ordering him to complete unpaid community work instead.

[Lets hope that police eradicate this kind of behaviour from the area before potential owners, tenants and businesses are scared off]


Repossession on the rise
10-02-08 - Scotland on Sunday

New flats and developments
Many such properties were blatantly overpriced, and their prices have tumbled as the market has softened, leaving borrowers to take fright and hand back the keys.

However, evidence is emerging that special incentives and offers muddied the waters even further.

The prices some of these flats were purportedly sold for were registered on the Land Registry at inflated values. For example, if a developer knocked £50,000 off the price of a unit selling at £200,000, the flat was still registered for £200,000, even though the purchaser only paid £150,000.

This gave other new buyers an entirely false picture of the true value of these properties. Meanwhile, lenders have reduced the amount they are prepared to lend on these properties, making selling your way out of trouble more problematic.

Sadly, crooks and cowboys always move in to make a killing at any boom.

Buy-to-let
Not only have buy-to-let investors been particularly vulnerable to fraudulent activities and tumbling new development prices, but rents are falling too in some areas.

There is mounting evidence that in some areas buy-to-let landlords are rushing for the door and handing back their keys to the bank.

more from http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/business/Repossessions-on-rise-as-debt.3762418.jp



Council backs Caltongate - these are the people to blame
Thursday 7th February 2008



Teenager burned after trying to torch car

By Gordon Smith - Edinburgh Evening News - 18-12-2007

A teenager who poured petrol over the inside of a parked car and then used his lighter to start a fire suffered burns to his face, neck and hands when the petrol vapour exploded.

Because of his injuries, Daryl Ness, 19, now has to stay out of direct sunlight for a year and wear sun block.

Sitting in Edinburgh today, Sheriff Fiona Reith heard that Ness' friend, Craig Walker, also 19, told the police that somebody had assaulted Ness with a blowtorch.

Ness, of Upper Grove Place, Edinburgh, had previously pleaded guilty to wilfully setting fire to the car in Brandfield Street on August 5 last year; and Walker of Hermiston Court, also Edinburgh, had admitted wasting police time by making a false statement. Sentence had been deferred for background reports.

Fiscal Malcolm Stewart said Ness had found a petrol canister inside the car, doused the inside of the vehicle with the petrol and lit his lighter, at which point the petrol vapour exploded back into his face.

The two youths, who lived in the Broomhouse area at the time of the incident, went back to Walker's home. Ness' injuries were becoming so painful that he stood under a cold shower to try and ease the pain, but eventually the pair decided to call an ambulance.

Mr Stewart said it was obvious to the ambulance crew that Ness needed treatment and he was taken to St John's Hospital in Livingston.

When Walker was being interviewed by police he told them that somebody had got hold of Ness in the Broomhouse underpass and held a blowtorch to his face.

The Fiscal said the officers became suspicious and "put two and two together" with the car being set on fire

Sentence was again deferred on the two teenagers to allow a psychological report to be prepared on Ness.

Has the developer even got the money to go ahead?
06-12-07

Poor wee Donald Trump
is not happy that an application for his scheme for a luxury golf course, including a hotel and 500 holiday homes, was turned down by Aberdeenshire council last week.

His chosen location is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and there would be considerable environmental damage if this went ahead.  The usual claims of job and wealth creation in the community are as always unproven and highly unlikely.
 
Following enormous pressure from vested interests the Scottish Executive has now called the application in under rarely used powers in the 1997 Town and Country Planning Act on the grounds that it "raises issues of importance that require consideration at a national level". 

So, instead of the applicant being required to go through the appeal process or submitting revised plans, this means that local democracy is being bypassed and would set a DANGEROUS PRECEDENT for planning applications throughout Scotland.

If you wish to support the campaign to protect this important site from damaging development, here is the link to the petition. http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/trumpoff/

Its been a bad week for Trump as shown in this Newsday article

.... At least one proposed sale of the company to outside investors has fallen through this year, but company chairman Donald Trump said recently there are still several parties interested in buying all or parts of the company.

Trump's casinos are trying to whittle down $1.5 billion in debt that remains despite a 2005 bankruptcy reorganization.

Its stock hit a 52-week low on Tuesday, closing down more than 6 percent at $4.62. It had traded as high as $23.47 within the previous year.

Housing market on the brink
3rd December 2007

According to economist Roger Bootle, in October, mortgage approvals for new house purchases fell to 88,000, the lowest level since February 2005. In recent weeks, Nationwide, Halifax, Hometrack, the RICS and Rightmove have all reported house price falls.

Moreover, this chimes in with evidence from the Home Builders' Federation. Their site visit balance has already fallen below its 2004 low. Interestingly, in the past six months house builders' share prices have fallen by 50pc. Falls on that scale have only been seen three times in the past: in 1974, 1976 and 1992. Each of the three major house price corrections of the past 30 years has been preceded by a collapse in house builders' share prices.

Meanwhile, gross rental yields on property are running at around 5.3pc - below mortgage rates of roughly 6pc. This means that once you take account of all the incidental costs, landlords are making a running loss. It is only the hope of future capital gains that can justify hanging on.

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2007/12/03/ccom103.xml

Mintel puts Fear of God into UK Property Market
29th October 2007

"The focus over the last few months has very much been on subprime borrowers, but they are only the tip of the iceberg," said Mintel yesterday. And with those words Mintel put the Fear Of God up the UK property market.

Mintel reckons 9 per cent of mortgage holders in the UK are subprime, but that another 24 per cent were non-standard with irregular incomes. And that's a problem, says Mintel, because when these mortgageholders come to move, and need to get a new mortgage, or if they want to re-mortgage their property, they are going to find it a whole lot harder and more expensive than they were expecting. "In today's more-conservative lending climate, the unconventional financial situation of these homeowners means that they will now face higher repayments and increased lenders' fees when remortgaging or moving house," said Mintel.

It does seem to us that many economists have underestimated how serious the current credit crunch is. If you remove from people the ability to borrow in order to repay borrowings, then all of a sudden you may well find a rapid rise in possessions, which in turn could lead to a rush of cut-price properties coming on the market.

2008 is likely to see this partially reflected in house prices, but given the time lags entailed in property possessions, 2009 may well be the year when things hit bottom.

From http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/nov2007/biznews644.html#shock

How the land lies

Richard Wachman The Observer November 11 2007

Investors have been dumping shares in commercial property companies: Land Securities has seen its stock price plunge by 30 per cent since January. British Land spooked the City last month when it failed to sell a stake in the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield because of the credit crunch. Analysts fear that capital values of all commercial property could fall by up to 20 per cent. Expect writedowns to become a feature of the reporting season. The sector has enjoyed phenomenal growth in recent years, but now the chickens are coming home to roost.


25th October 2007
Bank of England Financial Stability Report
October 2007 Issue No 22 - (page 29)
http://www.bankofengland.co.uk

…and commercial property companies.

Another potentially vulnerable component of the UK non-financial corporate sector is commercial property companies. Returns on commercial property companies are highly cyclical. Between 2002 and mid-2006, commercial property price inflation rose to a peak of 15%.

With property prices growing considerably faster than rental yields, initial yields on commercial property have fallen substantially over the past few years and are now well below the cost of finance (as proxied by the five-year swap rate).

Since mid-2006, commercial property price inflation has weakened markedly, with the level of prices falling slightly in August. The price of commercial property derivative contracts suggests further falls.

Contacts are surprised at the speed of this slowdown, which they expected to be more pronounced for secondary than prime commercial property.

…recent first-time buyers...(page26)

Another group of potentially vulnerable households are recent first-time buyers. The increase in house prices relative to income in the United Kingdom may mean that they have had to stretch themselves more than would normally be the case in order to get on the housing ladder.

This is evident in the sharp increase in the proportion of new mortgages with high loan to income multiples since 2004.

Alongside the rise in interest rates, this has resulted in interest payments reaching 20% of first-time buyers’ average incomes, the highest share since 1991.

These households may be hoping that house price inflation will remain high to lower their leverage ratio. But anecdotal evidence suggests first-time buyers are now feeling priced out of the market, which suggests that an important source of housing demand may drop out of the market.

…and buy-to-let investors... (page26)

Buy-to-let yields continue to be squeezed, with rental growth remaining weak (relative to house price growth) and borrowing costs having risen. Net rental yields remain negative: Bank staff estimate that after deducting costs, the rental yield was about 2.3 percentage points lower than the mortgage rate in 2007 Q3. Recent investors are relying on continued house price appreciation to earn positive returns. Buy-to-let investors have often invested in new-build flats in the United Kingdom, which have experienced much lower rates of price appreciation than houses. Some UK property investors are also exposed to international property markets, where there are some signs that the cycle may have peaked.

October 24th 2007

Grosvenor has completed the first ever Italian property derivative transaction.
By Mike Phillips - PropertyWeek - 24.10.07

The trade was an all-property total return swap based on the IPD Italian Property Index, and has a two-year life span.
It was executed with BNP Paribas and brokered by ICAP.

Grosvenor has been at the forefront of the emerging property derivatives market, and earlier this year it undertook the first derivatives trades in Japan and Australia.

Hedge
In the UK, the level of derivatives trades dropped in the second quarter, down 67% to £970m. However, anecdotal evidence for the third quarter suggests that the sector has seen increased activity, partly because investors are using derivatives to hedge against falling values in the direct property market.

Nick Scarles, group finance director at Grosvenor Group, said: ‘This test trade is another step towards our using property derivatives as a tool to meet our strategic objectives and adjust our economic exposure to real estate between markets.’

So who now 'owns' the Fountain South / Springside development?
October 15th 2007

Traffic chaos hits Grove Street, Morrison Street, Dalry Road, Shandwick Place. In case you were one of the thousands delayed here is the reason. Note that this is not connected with the Trams project which will see two seperate sets of roads disruption and it is before the  hugely expanded number of residents, workers and visitors cars arrives.  Fountain North is expected to add at least 600 vehicles, The Marcos 'student' flats plan could attract several hundred 'tourist' in the holiday season, several thousand new office based job spaces  are already under construction, a failed nightclub at Fountain Park is seeking permission to transform into a six storey hotel. And thats before the Canalside Fountain South area starts building.

September 24th 2007
'Rent gap' fear in buy-to-let market

By Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Correspondent Daily Telegraph 24/09/2007

Fresh fears for the buy-to-let market were raised last night, after figures showed that most investors face not receiving enough from their properties to pay their mortgage payments.

The figures show that the rental returns from most properties have fallen below the cost of the average buy-to-let loan – a blow to the sector, which has surged ahead in recent years, providing valuable income for an estimated 400,000 private investors.

According to research from the Association of Residential Letting Agents, which represents buy-to-let mortgage lenders, 67 per cent of all landlords were making rental returns of 5 per cent or less in August.

This rate of return is much lower than all of the best buy-to-let mortgages available in the market. MoneyFacts, the financial research website, currently lists 10 top buy-to-let mortgages, ranging between 5.09 per cent and 5.84 per cent, many of them with a hefty arrangement fee.

The fear is that buy-to-let landlords are starting to sell their properties, in an attempt to avoid an imminent downturn. Tim Warrington, of landlord.co.uk, which has 14,000 registered landlord users, said: "Too many landlords selling in the UK could send the property market into freefall."

Most property economists have already downgraded their forecasts for house price growth in the wake of the credit crunch and the Northern Rock fiasco. Ed Stansfield, of Capital Economics, is predicting house prices in 2008 will show no level of growth at all – a fall in prices, in real terms.

Previously
FIVE YEARS AGO

Flooding sparks city canal probe

June 24th 2002 Edinburgh Evening News

Flooding at Fountainbnridge in Edinburgh when the Canal Wall failedA full investigation into the soundness of the banks on a section of the Union Canal has been launched following extensive flooding after it burst its banks.

Parts of the Fountainbridge area in the city centre were under five feet of water yesterday morning after a section of the canal collapsed near the Leamington Lift Bridge at Lochrin Basin.

Eight people had to be evacuated from nearby flats by Police Marine Unit boats, others sought refuge with neighbours, and workers at the Scottish Courage brewery were evacuated as millions of gallons of water poured onto the streets.

Emergency crews worked flat out to contain the flood, using heavy machinery to pile rubble into the hole in the canal bank.


August 20th 2007
The massive underground Car Park under construction at

Some years ago the Canal basin 'leaked' onto the  Fountain North / Springfield site.  Today's picture  shows that water a plenty still proves a problem in the area. Of course one of the reasons for building a brewery in the area was the ready supply of spring water. Earlier problems of flooding were also experienced at part of the Exchange.

August 15th 2007
Progress at Fountain North - aka Springfield.
Recent excavations at Fountain North - aka Springfield - for the mega sized underground carpark have smashed through numerous pipes probably from earlier industrial workings. Does any reader have an idea if this was connected to the rubber factory? info@gardyloo.org

July 31st 2007

Hopefully our politicians watched last night's Dispatches documentary on Channel 4 Television (it should be available soon at http://www.channel4.com/news/dispatches/) which reported on the scandals surrounding UK house building, abuses of the planning process and the abdication of responsibility by councillors. Hopefully Andrew Gilligan will follow up his good work with an examination of the Scottish Common Good scandal.

July 30th 2007

Well our July 13th warning proved prescient with some 300 homes in the area losing Telephone, TV and broadband services over that weekend. According to Virgin Media engineers this has been a regular occurence with the Fountain North / HBG /   Springfield workforce. To be fair however they have yet to emulate the incompetance of workers at the old ScotMid building near Edinburgh Quay. They simply demolished an expensive fibre cable head with a crane. 

Edinburgh folks and even the Faculty of Advocates seem to be getting onboard the EAR planning bandwagon. Follow some new links here

July 14th 2007

Commercial property sector gets the jitters
Rosemary Gallagher - The Scotsman 14-07-2007

Commercial property  property was, for a time, riding on the crest of a wave. Given the excellent returns it was delivering, investors piled their money into bricks and mortar and it was seen as an excellent way of diversifying a portfolio away from equities.

In 2006, commercial property was the most popular asset class among retail investors - not surprisingly, given that investors have enjoyed returns of close to 20 per cent a year for three years.

But over the past six months, year-on-year returns have fallen drastically for UK commercial property, with some seeing negative figures.

July 13th 2007

Tempting again fate today ...

July 11th 2007

Watch out for a loss of cable services in the Grove Street area

Developers seem to have acquired even more land at Brandfield Street and taken over the pavement along with a Telewest/Virgin Media cable box. (arrowed on right).

While we are at it - HSE regulations require a hard hat be worn at ALL times.
Cable box at Fountain North site
June 27th 2007

Dundee Street Edinburgh looking Westwards - The AMA development appear to have commandeered the pavement on the North side of the street
Just how much land did the former Edinburgh Council sell off at Fountainbridge?

As well as ridding the area of  a substantial chunk of green space at Grove Park,  Labour Councillors  appear to have also sold off the pavements and a drying green adjacant to a former children's playground.

However they forgot to mention that the Council had no rights over the latter land which is in the title deeds of some flats in Grove Street.  Tonight's talk by Andy Wightman  will be of interest to all concerned at the legality of this 'rip-off' of public and private land by a council desperate to raise money for it's pet Trams project.

Some questions:

(1) How much HAS BEEN PAID by the developers for the Grove Park land and playground and drying green?
(2) How much money HAS BEEN PAID towards the Trams project?
(3) What percentage of 'affordable housing' will now be included in the Springfield (AKA Fountain North) Site?
(4) What will happen to the 'donation' towards the Trams project if it is cancelled by the SE?

June 24th 2007

Is student buy-to-let now a 'disaster'?

Edinburgh City Centre property could yield an annual loss of over £6500 according to a new survey from Landlord Mortgages. http://www.lml.co.uk  This is the worst performance for University Cites in the UK.

"Household income has grown 52%* since Blair first came into power in 1997, and for the sake of affordability, the housing market must cool, with growth a predicted 24% over the next five years", says LML MD  Lee Grandin.

June 15th 2007

Commercial property prices will fall by 12%  by 2010

Capital Economics property economist Kelvin Davidson quoted in the Daily Telegtaph said that its forecast marked "a distinct change to our expectations for the commercial property market. We have been warning  about the upside risks  to interest  rates and the  downside risks to commercial property prices for some time."

"With the Bank of England increasingly worried about the need to address building inflation pressures, these risks are now out central view. While rising rents will limit falls in cap[ital values but not prevent them. Property yields have been left stranded about 80-90 basis points below 10 year bond yields. We view that as unsustainable"

http://www.capitaleconomics.com/

To see some commercial property available in Edinburgh go here

June 15th 2007

Price drops starting for Edinburgh Housing Market underway?

An interesting site that you should peruse if you are considering buying or selling property in Edinburgh EH3 (or elsewhere in Britain) http://www.propertysnake.co.uk/site/postcode/eh3

June 12th 2007

Just how legal was the previous Edinburgh council sell-off of public parkland to the AMA - Grosvenor - RBS consortium?  What remedies exist under UK, Scots and European Law?

An important lecture and evening with Andy Wightman on Edinburgh's Common Good has been organised by EdinburghAtRiskSee here for details.

May 30th 2007 

Reopen the South Sub!

This is the website for the campaign to reopen the Edinburgh South Suburban Railway ('South Sub') to passenger rail services.  This campaign has been launched by the Capital Rail Action Group (CRAG) in support of the petition lodged in the Scottish Parliament in March 2007. As the existing rail can be largely used there is much less disruption than the blessed Tram idea. Please support their petition  http://www.reopenthesouthsub.org.uk/   

May 25th 2007

So now it becomes clear why the Fountain North developers wanted to buy the Park Land at Grove Street - they want to build a 'loop road' between Upper Grove Place and Brandfield Street. No mentioned of course in the original 'application' for the development although many who objected to the scheme warned of the impact on traffic of the scheme. Since then of course Marcos wants to build 350 student residences, Fountain South is still to appear, The Morrison Street Carpark and Haymarket developments have appeared. Nore details when the 'plans' become available.

The application is being made under the Roads (Scotland) Act of 1984.

May 20th 2007 - Sunday Times

The smart money moves into German offices

Is European commercial property the next big thing?

John Duffield, one of the country’s savviest investors, has put millions of pounds of his family’s money into overseas commercial property, including German offices and Polish warehouses, as property chiefs warn that the British market is past its best.

Millions of ordinary investors who have piled into UK commercial-property funds in recent years will now be wondering whether they should dump Britain and back Europe too.

Investors have poured £5 billion into commercial-property funds over the past year alone, with the bulk of the money going into funds that invest in bricks and mortar here in Britain. Interest in the funds, which invest in shops, offices and industrial premises, was sparked by stellar returns: 65 per cent over the past three years, according to the Investment Property Databank (IPD), against 58 per cent for the FTSE All-Share index.

The consensus, though, is that the UK market has peaked. The chief executive of Britain’s largest commercial-property firm, Land Securities, took the unusual step last week of warning that the returns available to investors are set to decline. Francis Sal-way said that some of his firm’s properties had fallen in value since the autumn. “This is a big deal,” he said. “We have had four years when everything was going up.”

His warning came a day after Savills, the estate agent, said almost a third of the properties at its last commercial auction had failed to sell.

And Spanish company Metrovacesa has recently bought HSBC’s Canary Wharf headquarters for a record £1.09 billion, with a yield – rental income as a portion of the property’s value – of just 3.8 per cent. This is an extremely low return with interest rates at 5.5 per cent and many analysts suggest it signals the top of the market.

See more at http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/money/investment/article1813028.ece

May 17th 2007

A typical experience at the Fountain North (aka Springfield) site. What is the point of speaking with developers, health and safety folk and  environmental services when the rules continue to be ignored. See below for assurances which were  given  regarding dust, asbestos and 'fly'.

Why is there still no sign of  promised  figures on air quality measurements and the method statement for this work or does City of Edinburgh Council not bother with such boring matters? 


May 14th 2007
Edinburgh At Risk (EAR) is to release the contents of 'Brown Envelopes'
May 8th 2007
House prices are at their least affordable level for a generation according to the Daily Telegraph. It now costs nearly seven times the annual wage to afford an ordinary home and mortgages are taking 45% of the average salary.  The figures have not been at this level since the housing crash of 1989. With  further interest rates rises expected this and next month, economists have warned of a dramatic 'cooling' of the housing market.

Is affordable housing on the way?
May 1st 2007

From The Scotsman House-price boom may be stalling amid fear of higher interest rates, according to figures which show the number of mortgages approved last month was 12 per cent down on last year.

The British Bankers' Association (BBA) said just over 198,000 loans were agreed during March - 19,000 lower than the same period in 2006, a sign that some of the heat may be coming out of the market.

April 27th 2007

Earlier in the week complaints were received by Edinburgh Council's Environmental officers concerning the quantity of dust flying off the Fountain North Site. Following their visit  contractiors  tapped into the water main running under the former park and started to spray the growing mounds of material which is being 'processed'.

This action resulted in a severe loss of pressure to the upper stories of nearby tenements.  Following discussions with Scottish Water the situation seems to have improved somewhat but if residents face any re-occurence it is suggested that they contact site manager Malcolm Boyd on 0791 7227 371

As we have still not received promised information regarding monitoring during asbestos removal and the impact of weather conditions on site working,  those concerned might also wish to approach Mr Boyd .

April 26th 2007

While Gardyloo is non-party political, we were impressed with the records and aspirations of Brian Ferrier and John Anderson who are standing as independent candidates in the forthcoming council election. Take a look at their website for some refreshingly sensible views. http://www.stockweb.net/independent/

Some interesting and serious allegations have been flagged up this morning at http://www.edinburghsucks.com/


April  25th 2007
Edinburgh At Risk Launched

As AMA / Grosvenor / Fountain North attempts to woo investors and public opinion with a freebie at Edinburgh Castle, signs that Edinburgh's public have had enough of the destruction of their City in the name of Development. 

EDINBURGH AT RISK is a 'support  network' which aims to address the 'democratic deficit' that many feel is  occuring with recent planning decisions in the City. Amongst its supporters is Sir Bernard Crick. For the press release and links to a video read the release here.


April 19th 2007
£80m scheme dropped
Edinburgh Evening News 19-04-07

Plans for a massive extension of Edinburgh's flagship conference centre are in tatters after the developers behind the project pulled the plug on their involvement.

The £80 million scheme, a joint venture between Cala and AWG, would have seen an eight-storey office block created on top of a major new underground banqueting and events space for the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

The shelving of the scheme is expected to have a major impact on Edinburgh's ability to attract major conferences and events. However, the council and the EICC said they would be working to try to rescue the scheme by trying to get other developers involved.

Work had been due to get under way within months on the project - which has been more than five years in the planning stages - after it received planning permission last August.

Developers said the project is no longer viable because of spiralling construction industry costs.

April 18th 2007 

A report to be published tomorrow (Thursday 19th April) is expected to show that higher stamp duty has reduced housing transactions by ½ million and by restricting supply in the upturn and by reducing demand in the downturn has added to volatility in the housing market.

The report will claim that with housing accounting for 55% of private individuals’ net worth, introducing an additional element of volatility into the housing market is dangerous.  If and when the housing psychology becomes negative, it suggests that the consequences will be unnecessarily severe.

April 16th 2007

Apologies for the delay in publishing the results of Asbestos Monitoring and Answers to questions concerning windspeed maxima during the recent demolition. Promised figures and a report  have still not arrived from AMA.

Some residents remain concerned at the degree of 'stoor' blowing from the site.

New layout for the Fountain North DevelopmentMarch 23rd 2007    

Jumping through Hoops

Property investors want to be in on the ground floor of any opportunity.
Actually, they want in earlier than that.

While helping Grosvenor develop the brand for an important new mixed use scheme in central Edinburgh, we simultaneously created a holding brand for the investment community.

Rule No.1 is to look like you’ve spent no money on marketing to investors. Rule No.2 is to make the opportunity utterly compelling and apparently exclusive. 


Taken from Fountain North's new website for investors and their web developers Hoop


Please compare the building massing shown in the website image with plans submitted the Council and shown to residents.
Budget special - Business rate relief for empty properties will be cut. - March 21st 2007

From Gordon (Stalin) Brown's budget speech today:


 The system of business rates includes a number of reliefs and exemptions. The Inquiry recommends that some of these should be reformed. In response to these recommendations and those of the Barker Review of Land Use Planning, as described above, the Government today announces its intention to modernise empty property relief from business rates.

These reforms will reduce the duration of the existing empty property relief to three months for all properties and six months for industrial and warehouse properties. These reforms will reduce the current distinction between different types of property.

The duration of empty property relief (EPR) will be limited to three months for all property when they first fall empty with a further three months for industrial and warehouse properties only. Complete exemptions from rates will be awarded to empty properties held by charities.

This will enhance the supply of commercial property, reducing rents and improving access for new and existing firms. Downward pressure on rents will have significant benefits for UK business and wider UK competitiveness with particular benefits for new starters, and companies investing in additional property, in addition to all companies – especially SMEs – who rent their premises.

With any luck this should place some checks on the ever expasnding quantity iof unsold office space in Edinburgh's City Centre. A link to the present situation can be found here.
 

Comment on the US and UK Housing Market

......Why are the investment bankers so nervous about their own debt? Both Wall Street and the City of London earned record sums in the last 12 months. But at the top of the credit cycle – and with global asset values tumbling as the flood of easy money dries up thanks to rising rates in Japan, higher real rates in the US, and the threat of rising rates in Switzerland – the biggest security firms are starting to look awfully insecure.

 In the United Kingdom for instance, 125% mortgages lent at 7 times income for 50 years were packaged and sold – retail – to house-hungry consumers now struggling to make interest-only payments each month. Then the City of London bundled that risk along with yet more subprime debt and sold it again – wholesale – to pension and insurance funds.

Double the fun, in other words – plus a high-risk investment for unwitting pension savers, and "negative equity" for the homeowner without house prices needing to drop....
.
Taken from a March 4th 2007 article by Adrian Ash at http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/

More on Controlled Parking - a further email from 'Simon' 15th March 2007

After spending many hours trying to call the City Of Edinburgh council regarding the Zone 8 parking fiasco. I have at last found the person and the phone number to call should you have any complaints regarding this situation.

The person is
an Andrew McKay and the phone number is 0131 469 3577.

There is currently a dispensation for some Zone 8 residents to park in S1 - although those living in Viewforth / Fountainbridge do not get this benefit. This seems very unfair considering we all pay the same amount of money for a parking permit.

I would like to see the same benefits applied to the residents of Fountainbridage and Viewforth, to be allowed to park in the new S2 and S3 zones that are currently lying empty. I would love if all the locals could band together here and complain to the council, as this is what the Marchmont group did and they won their case.

March 8th 2007

Gardyloo is happy to post this email regarding parking zones. Edinburgh Council, of course, has for years oversold the number of permits, whilst 'Traffic Calming' has shrunk the number of available residential parking spaces.  Anyone else 'selling a service' in this manner would run foul of the Sale of Goods Act, and Trading Standards.

And now CEC are selling £1000 per year licences to tradesmen who will also be able to park in resident bays. Fountain North will have spaces for 650 cars when their project is complete. Whoever gets the Fountain South franchise will, no doubt, add to the dreadful congestion  and then there are all these other city centre office blocks, budget hotels and student flats to consider. We hope the Dundee Street traffic flow  estimates have been based on  better research than a recent occasion which consisted of conducting a census on one Tuesday in the Summer during school holidays. A net daily increase of 12 journeys was forecast by the 'experts'!

Hi there,

I recently noticed your site and wondered if you'd been affected by the new controlled parking zones.

I live in the Viewforth/Fountainbridge area and ever since the new CPZ's have came into existence I've literally had nowhere to park. I don't really use my car much, but I cannot believe the council has taken no interest in the Zone 8 residents.

I have tried speaking to the council on numerous occasions but get the same answer "we'll look into it". I'm guessing that if they admit a problem it may make them look stupid.

I was told to email the following address ( cpz.extension@edinburgh.gov.uk ) if I wanted to complain about the Zone 8 parking situation. The S2 and S3 zone which join the Viewforth area have on most evenings been derelict. 

A group of residents in the Marchmont area of Zone 8 complained strongly enough that they now have a dispensation to park in S1. I was wondering if you could post these details on your site for the residents of Zone 8 to make their voice heard.

They should also call the council as I have a feeling they're not overly concerned about reading emails...


 
Keep up the good work with your site...

Many Thanks

Simon

March 5th 2007

Well the world's stock exchanges have caught the frights - despite record profits reported by the banks concerns are growing over a slow down of the US machine and the impact of failures in the sub-prime market. This is an area of which the Royal Bank of Scotland is especially aware. See reports from http://www.responsiblelending.org/

(Indeed a little bird tells us that RBS are concerned at delays at the Fountain North  project)

Despite Edinburgh's bank workers bonuses much of the planned 'luxury' apartments will be beyond reach and likely to end up being flogged to buy-to-let absentee landlords.  When lending rates increase will the rents they have to charge remain affordable?  See http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/

See also: http://www.moneyweek.com/file/25283/is-the-housing-crash-coming-this-year.html

www.portygreenkeepers.org.uk 

www.hool.org.uk

www.citystrolls.com 

www.pcats.org.uk



Here are some other campaigning sites worth visiting. Our anger is not alone.

http://thelondonparticular.org/

http://www.yorkcastle.com

http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports

www.spacehijackers.org

The imminent arrrival of yet more glass and concrete slabs on this and nearby sites prompts city centre residents to pose a simple question:-

Why cannot Edinburgh planners and developers aspire to the imagination and sensivity of Adriaan Geuze and his team at West 8 in the Netherlands.?

Recently described as the UK's dirtiest, but with asprirations to be a world class city, Edinburgh should start to encompass the greening of urban spaces rather than flog off land.

To see how it can be done visit:

http://www.west8.nl/

Note: West 8 does not represent or endorse any advice, opinion, statement or other information provided by gardyloo.org

Meanwhile back in Edinburgh another play area is closed

Edinburgh Council sell off the land to developers who plan to increase the local population by several thousand.

...Equally good-quality public services such as transport, education and parks are essential to making the city region attractive for the long term...
Greg Clark, an advisor to the OECD quoted in the winter edition of Capital Review

The same review shows the residential land values for flats as £7.5million per hectare. 
So  HOW MUCH WAS THE COUNCIL PAID FOR GROVE PARK?

Some interesting pix from adjacant West Tollcross

http://www.myedinburgh.org/?page=3089&screen=1&custom=1

Fountain North's Car Wash

Hosing dust and fly from vehicles in Upper Grove Place Edinburgh
Residents in Edinburgh's Upper Grove Place had a pleasant surprise on Saturday.  They found their vehicles had been washed by workers from the Fountain North site. 

As you can see (below)  assurances regarding the damping of buildings to suppress dust were underway on the 8 acre site. The degree of muck on cars and windows in the area however, casts serious doubts on the effectiveness of the procedures put in place.

Dust supression on the Fountain North site

Can you Spot the Unhealthy Trees.
Fountain North's yellow cross
Fountain North can and they have ordered the Council's Parks people to mark out unhealthy trees for removal: Strangely enough they are all on a bit of land destined for  'luxury apartments'.

Of course the final planning consent has NOT YET BEEN GIVEN but obviously is expected as a fâit accompli.

Fountain North Demolition
If you were wondering why there was some much 'fly' dust in West Central Edinburgh - here is your answer. Fountain North's demolition continued during the recent high winds.  Wonder if/when the results of their Asbestos monitoring will be made public?  In case of delay we took our own samples.

February 6th 2007

Here's a PFI type plan which Edinburgh Council's planning committee is being asked to approve for 'affordable social housing' at Fountain North. Documents lodged yesterday (- see here )  show that:

Your new 'social landlord' will be The Merchant Company
.protecting the interests of traders in the city..

Best know for their private schools the following is taken from their website http://www.edinburghmerchantcompany.org/

The Merchant Company’s original purpose was to protect trading rights in the City of Edinburgh. Rules were drawn up for better regulation of trade and for punishing offenders. Then, as now, the term merchant covered a wide field but all Members, including a few women, shared common interests and purpose. Issues discussed included the city’s water supply, smuggling, taxation, Sabbath observance and postal services. From its earliest days, the Merchant Company was involved in educational and charitable work. As a result, when the monopolies of trade guilds were ended by the Trading Within Burghs Act 1849, the Merchant Company continued to flourish and play an important role in the life in the city.

Is this the shape of things to come from Edinburgh's Nu-Labour councillors following the rejection of plans to transfer council housing? . We understand that The Merchant Company will 'buy' property from Fountain North and then lease it to the Dunmore - Canmore Housing Association.




January 30th 2007 - Who will be taking the planning decisions?
With 3d models showing 8 story block of flats on the adjacant  Fountain South site here is the run-down on local planning decision making in Edinburgh.

Coming shortly: pictures showing the 'green spaces'  enjoyed by the developers and their funders.

January 16th 2007 Update Edinburgh offers least playground space in Scotland, according to a new survey.
The Capital has just 177 public spaces where youngsters can play, a third of the total in Fife and Glasgow.
There is just one city council play area for every 400 children according to a survey by SportScotland


  If you have Google Earth installed, you can double-click on this  placemark file and it will fly you to the site of  Fountain North's destruction of green space. If not, you will need to install Google Earth first
 (free and available at http://earth.google.com)


This is the Fountain North site in Edinburgh where public park land has been sold off by Edinburgh Council to benefit AMA developers

House Prices will crash - eventually

This is taken from a personal view by the Editor of Money Week, Merryn Somerset Webb  which appeared in the Sunday Times edition of December 24th. 

...My other mistake has been on the demand side. I didn't anticipate that lenders would loosen their lending criteria quite as much as they have. I have a friend who was recently offered a self-certification mortgage for five times his income (in other words, the bank didn't check on his income or his ability to repay the loan, they just took his word for it). It is now perfectly possible to get a mortgage for six times your income or for 125% of the value of your home. This clearly has a huge effect on demand because it allows people to carry on buying houses they can't really afford, however high prices go.

So what next? I still think that UK house prices are far too high. Over the long term, the price of the average house in Britain has been three times average earnings, but today-one will set you back six times average earnings. This is unsustainable and I think that the market will crash. It is being kept going by technical factors and by speculation, but that can't go on indefinitely.

When will prices actually start to fall? I can't tell you the answer to that one — I don't know exactly when common sense will return — but I do know there is no way I'd buy a house in 2007. My own is still for sale....

Wish we had thought of this first re Fountain North - well done SOOT

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
On the first day of Christmas
My council sent to me:
A Mountgrange with a Masterplan
On the second day of Christmas
My council sent to me:
Two office blocks
And Mountrange with a Masterplan
On the third day of Christmas
My council sent to me:
Three cheap homes,
Two office blocks
And Mountgrange with a Masterplan
On the fourth day of Christmas
My council sent to me
Four wrecking balls,
Three cheap homes,
Two office blocks
And Mountgrange with a Masterplan
On the fifth day of Christmas
My council sent to me:
A five star hotel,
Four wrecking balls,
Three cheap homes,
Two office blocks
And Mountgrange with a Masterplan
On the sixth day of Christmas
My council sent to me:
Six cows a conning,
A five star hotel,
Four wrecking balls,
Three cheap homes,
Two office blocks
And Mountgrange with a Masterplan
On the seventh day of Christmas
My council sent to me:
Seven legal experts,
Six cows a conning,
A five star hotel,
Four wrecking balls,
Three cheap homes,
Two office blocks
And Mountgrange with a Masterplan
On the eighth day of Christmas
My council sent to me:
Eight PR spinners,
Seven legal experts,
Six cows a conning.
A five star hotel.
Four wrecking balls.
Three cheap homes,
Two office blocks
And Mountgrange with a Masterplan
On the ninth day of Christmas
My council sent to me:
Nine builders building.
Eight PR spinners,
Seven legal experts,
Six cows a conning.
A five star hotel.
Four wrecking balls.
Three cheap homes,
Two office blocks
And Mountgrange with a Masterplan
On the tenth day of Christmas
My council sent to me:
Ten global chain stores,
Nine builders building,
Eight PR spinners,
Seven legal experts,
Six cows a conning,
A five star hotel,
Four wrecking balls,
Three cheap homes,
Two office blocks
And Mountgrange with a Masterplan
On the eleventh day of Christmas
My council sent to me:
Eleven planners planning,
Ten global chain stores,
Nine builders building,
Eight PR spinners,
Seven legal experts,
Six cows a conning,
A five star hotel,
Four wrecking balls,
Three cheap homes,
Two office blocks
And Mountgrange with a Masterplan
On the twelfth day of Christmas
My council sent to me:
Twelve diggers digging,
Eleven planners planning,
Ten global chain stores,
Nine builders building,
Eight PR spinners,
Seven legal experts,
Six cows a conning,
A five star hotel,
Four wrecking balls,
Three cheap homes,
Two office blocks
And Mountgrange with a Masterplan

House-price bubble 'may burst in a year'


Britain's property bubble will burst in one or two years, a prominent economist and former adviser to Gordon Brown warned yesterday.

House-price growth has been based on unrealistic expectations and "significant" falls in value are likely, according to a report by David Miles, chief UK economist at the investment bank Morgan Stanley.

It is the latest in a series of black warnings about the collapse of the property market, all of which have so far failed to come true. But economists yesterday agreed that, while a drop in prices may not take place, a sharp slowdown in growth was long overdue.

And Scotland, where the annual rate of house-price inflation is double the UK average, is unlikely to escape any drop in prices as it did in the crash of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Mr Miles estimates homebuyers are expecting prices to continue rising by as much as 10 per cent a year, compared with 2 per cent in 1996. A slowdown in house-price rises would trigger a reappraisal of home-buyer expectations and lead to a slump in prices, it was suggested.

The report concludes: "A sharp fall in real house prices is likely at some point in the relatively near future, though it could yet be one to two years away."



Update as at 17th November 2006

"In 95 per cent of suburban housing developments I see no change from the Noddy-box mentality, which litters the landscape from Caithness to Cornwall.

"In Britain generally, let alone Scotland, I don't want to live in a country where we are producing a few jewels in a whole pile of rubbish - which it is, frankly."

Award-winning Edinburgh architect Richard Murphy quoted in The Scotsman. The cream of Scotland's architects had gathered in Edinburgh to celebrate the best of the country's design renaissance.

Update as of 2nd November 2006

Its good to see that cross party support  is growing to save green space and play facilites in Edinburgh's City Centre.  Joining our local MSP, Sarah Boyack and Green MSP Mark Ballard is Scottish Conservative candidate Gordon Buchan who has included a petition form in his
latest newsletter. Hopefully many more signatures will result.

Support to retain Grove Park from Scottish Tories
Petition form to save Grove Park



Update of 17th October 2006

Are there to be Public AND Privet (private?) parks within the Fountain North Development ?

see emails below


Update of 14th October 2006

TREE FELLING PLANNED BY AMA

The emails below are self-explanatory and appear to conveniently show that Fountain North have been given the go-ahead by the Edinburgh Council to remove established trees in the Grove Park area. As of last night (Tuesday 10th October) a member of the planning committee confirmed that only OUTLINE planning approval has been granted so far to the Fountain North scheme.

Can you spot which of these 25 year old trees are in 'poor condition'?


From: David Liddle To: malcolmboyd@hbgc.co.uk
Cc: hbgedinburgh@hbgc.co.uk , Sarah Boyack <sarah.boyack.msp@scottish.parliament.uk>

Date: 04-Oct-2006 10:52

Subject: Fountain North Ltd - structural monitoring

Dear Malcolm Boyd

Before I return your note of September 29th 2006 regarding the establishment of base points on our property can you reassure me that there will be no cutting down of any trees surrounding the park area at Brandfield Street?

It seemed that foilage and branches might obstruct line of sight of your proposed reflectors but hopefully you can explain how measurements can be made?

David Liddle
3 Brandfield Street
Edinburgh
EH3 8AS
From: Bright, Richard To: David Liddle



Date: 05-Oct-2006 14:48

Subject: Fountain North - Revised Start Date for Demolition

David

The start date for the first demolition phase for the Fountain North site has now been set for January 2007.  The development team felt it was best to have a clear run at the demolition works following Christmas and New Year, without the interruption of various regulations (e.g. regulation of road restrictions) surrounding the festive period. Hopefully, the start date will be more suitable to residents too.  The demolition period will be approximately 32 weeks.

I am aware that at the Public Meeting on August 31 we indicated that work would start imminently.  I would therefore be grateful if you could make the revised start date known to your immediate contacts.

As you are aware, a letter from contractors HBG requesting structural monitoring on selected buildings in the area during the demolition and construction period has been issued this week to a number of residents in Upper Grove Place, Grove Street and Brandfield Street.

Please get in touch in you need any more information.

Best regards
Richard
Weber Shandwick

From: David Liddle To: "Bright, Richard

Date: 05-Oct-2006 18:46

Subject: Re: Fountain North - Revised Start Date for Demolition

Thanks for that Richard. I am still waiting for a reply from HBG to my email regarding an assurance that they will not be clearing any existing trees from the park area. I asked them to explain how they would be able to take measurements through foilage.
sincerely

David Liddle
From: Bright, Richard To: David Liddle Cc: "Halstead, Sam

Date: 06-Oct-2006 10:20

Subject: RE: Fountain North - Revised Start Date for Demolition

David
Either HBG or ourselves will get back to you about this important issue early next week. I’m on leave next week, so it will be my colleague Sam Halstead who will be following it up.

Cheers
Richard
From: Halstead, Sam To: david.liddle Date:

09-Oct-2006 13:37
Subject: Trees

Hi David,
Richard Bright asked me to look into your enquiry about the trees.
I have had a chat with the contractors who have advised me that following an analysis in conjunction with the City of Edinburgh Council’s tree officer, it has been determined that the trees are generally in a poor condition.

The council has approved the removal of seven of these trees, but 15 new trees will be replanted within the same location. There will also be extensive tree planting over the entire Fountain North site.
If you have any further questions, please let me know.

Kind regards,
Sam Halstead
From: David Liddle To: "Halstead, Sam

Date: 09-Oct-2006 14:36
Subject: Re: Trees

Thanks you for your note which is rather distressing.

Can you or the council tell me which trees are in a poor condition and where they are sited?

The reason I ask is that I had a conversation with the park workforce who removed one tree which had been left in a dangerous condition.

David Liddle
 
From: Halstead, Sam  To: David Liddle

Date: 11-Oct-2006 12:36

Hi David,

Just to keep you in the loop. I haven't forgotten you!

The person I need to speak to is out of the office at the moment, but as soon as I track him down, I'll get back to you.

Cheers,
Sam Halstead

From: David Liddle To: "Halstead, Sam

Date: 11-Oct-2006 12:40
Subject: Re:


Surely you can just ask the Edinburgh tree officer?

David Liddle
From: Boyd, Malcolm (Scotland) To: David Liddle

Date: 13-Oct-2006 13:56


Subject: RE: Fountain North Ltd - structural monitoring

Dear Mr. Liddle

Further to your e mail we write to advise that their will be no requirement to remove any trees or foliage to allow monitoring surveys to be carried out to your property. Base stations will be set up in open area adjacent to your property where readings will be taken by the surveyor.

We trust this answers your queries and allows you to return note of September 29th 2006 regarding the establishment of base point.

Regards,
Malcolm Boyd
From: David Liddle To: malcolmboyd@hbgc.co.uk
Bcc: Sarah Boyack <sarah.boyack.msp@scottish.parliament.uk>

Date: 13-Oct-2006 15:18

Subject: Trees at Grove Park

Dear Malcolm Boyd

Thanks for your reply which I will forward to Sarah Boyack MSP.

I am glad that there will be no need to remove any trees or foilage  although your comments seem to be at variance with those from the PR company who stated that some trees will be cut down.

Can I assume that HBG have now decided that this is unnecessary?

Sincerely
David Liddle

From: Cooper, Martin <mcooper@hbgc.co.uk>   
Date: 17-Oct-2006 13:00
Subject: Trees at Grove Park

Dear Mr Liddle

The Landscaping of all public and privet parks within the development will be subject to a 'Public Realm Application' which will be subject to public notice and comment.

Regards,
Martin Cooper
Construction Manager

From: David Liddle  
To: "Cooper, Martin" <mcooper@hbgc.co.uk>
Date: 17-Oct-2006 13:10
Subject: Re: Trees at Grove Park

Dear Mr Cooper

Thank you for that - I'll have to see what that entails and means.














Update of 12th September

Political support for attempts to retain the public park space at Grove Street.

Today Green MSP Mark Ballard and Scottish Conservative Candidate Gordon Buchan expressed support for our attempts to retain and improve the existing parkland at Grove Street. The Edinburgh Evening News is understood to be investigating the sell-off plan.

Update of 1st September


Asbestos is an emotive word and its presence and removal creates problems and dangers for all. This is especially the case when working in confined spaces or when particles can be disturbed and travel in the air. The following links may go some way to provide some authoritative information for anyone concerned.

http://www.workershealth.com.au/facts001.html
http://www.lhc.org.uk/members/pubs/books/asbestos/asb10.htm
http://www.lhc.org.uk/members/pubs/books/asbestos/asb_toc.htm



Update of 31st August


A full report of the AMA meeting last night will appear here once recordings and notes are examined. The experts and representatives from Grosvenor, AMA, HWG and Masterton Demolition, who will be removing asbestos from the site, announced that they objected to the proceedings being recorded and threatened to call off the meeting before it started. They were not expecting recording and felt somewhat intimidated not being used to public speaking.

The platform party included the Head of PR for the builders and a PR account director from a McCann Erickson subsidiary. Maybe a little media training is required.

Apparently the platform party were also worried that the material might be selectively edited as one developer put it  "..the material would not be under our control  we wouldn't mind the BBC because we could go to the Press Complaints body if we objected ..."

The whole point about  recording public meetings is to ensure a full and accurate record of what is said. This avoids 'mistakes',  'misunderstandings' and 'selective' recall.

Modern technology and communications permit a degree of control being returned to the voter, taxpayers and private citizen in their scutiny of officialdom and commercial interest.

This process is rapidly becoming the norm as as evidenced by the growth in blogging and online social networking and the resulting transparency should be welcomed by all who have nothing to hide.


An official from the nearby Fountain Park entertainment complex said she wanted to hear about the planned work. Not suprising as the work is likely to impact on an entertainment complex which has suffered several major failures in recent years. Two theme pub closed in rapid sucession, a nightclub was shut down following police and financial problems.

Its not all bad news for Fountain Park - while eleven cinema screen and ten pin polling couldn't even sustain a McDonalds,  Mecca Electronic Bingo has recently arrived and a Stanley Casino is apparently on the way...both are likely to appeal to the construction workforce over the next six years.


A reminder on what green space is likely to be lost

The Organisation Green Space can help with an alternative strategy PARKS FOR PEOPLE (pdf)




Update of August 30th 2006
House prices - crash warnings on both sides of the Pacific

Across the Anglo Saxon World the housing market seems to follow the sun. The cycle tends to kick off Down Under followed by the UK some 12 to 18 months later, with Uncle Sam's market coming last. If we want to know what is going to happen, then a look at the market in Australia gives a good indicator, while in the US they often take a look at the British market.

Except, that is, for this. While the UK has got away with a soft landing - so far - talk of a crash is getting more urgent on either side of the Pacific pond.

According to a recent article in Sydney Morning Herald house prices are falling. The article cited as an example a property in Sydney which recently sold for $260,000, 42 percent less than it was bought for in 2003.

Meanwhile, this weekend, the Observer business section led with the headline "US housing slump fuels crash fears." It focused on a report saying that the number of new homes sold in July were 22 percent down on a year earlier, and quoted Paul Ashworth, chief Us economist from Capital Economics who said "Freefall is a strong word, but I think it's the right one to use here."

In fact, economists are beginning to bandy about a nasty word when describing the US economy at the moment: recession. The same Observer report also referred to a recent prediction from Stephen Roach, chief economist from Morgan Stanley who reckons US growth will drop by 2 percentage points next year, thanks to the weak US property market. In the second quarter of this year, the US economy expanded by an annual rate of just 2.5 percent, which was half the rate enjoyed in the previous quarter. A further 2 percent off that, and the US will be dangerously close to experiencing the R word again.

These worrying sentiments, are not just restricted to Morgan Stanley. Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab & Co. in New York reckons the chances of a US recession next year are 50-50.

A US slow down was always inevitable. The US consumer could not possibly continue to prop up the global economy by spending borrowed money for much longer. The hope was that as the US took its feet off the consumer spending pedal, Japan and the EU would take up the slack. But recent evidence suggests that even the Eurozone recovery seems to be slowing.

We will report on the latest data when it is available, but the fear has to be we are returning to an environment of sluggish growth and rising inflation. That would spell an era of higher interest rates at a time when the economy badly needs lower interest to kick start demand.


Update as of 24th August


Local Councillor Kingsley Thomas and the AMA developers have organised a public meeting

Wednesday (Aug 30) at Tollcross Community Centre - 7.30pm

to discuss demolition arrangements - it is believed that AMA wish to tell us how they intend to go about demolishing the Fountain North site and dig up a great chunk of Grove Park.  Hopefully they will also  address concerns about the removal of asbestos from the site,  and other matters which are outlined  below.

It should be a very lively meeting. Anyone concerned about the Labour Council's continuing green space sell-offs might wish to question Councillor Thomas and Denis Dixon of GRAND (Grove Residents and Neighbouring District) about the illogicality of this action when European and National Government are re-iterating the need for a better quality of city centre life.

One wonders if it has been deliberate Council Policy over recent years to 'run down' the Grove Park asset by (i) refusing to increase lighting (ii) refusing to impliment CCTV in the area and (iii) imposing the Stopover Facility against residents wishes. It is understood that Councillor Thomas is unlikely to seek re-election in 2007.



Update on Tuesday 8th August at 1400 GMT

Seems that the authorities don't like pictures of the reality of Edinburgh City Centre life to be made public - this morning  two environmental wardens afixed a notice to this vehicle, which awaiting uplift by a representative of the insurance company. The notice states that a penalty charge will be imposed on the vehicle owner unless it is removed within 24 hours.  When a call was placed to the Lothian and Borders Police to ascertain progress on the crime investigation the owner was informed that as the vehicle was not displaying a valid tax disk she was liable to receive a further penalty notice.

Those attending the Edinburgh Festival should be aware that if their vehicle is subjected to an arson attack they may face similar hassles..

Saturday August 5th 2006


Car was set alight at Brandfield Street in Edinburgh beside the planned Fountain North development
Prospective purchasers on the Fountain North development should be aware of the high level of vandalism in the area. Security at the former brewery bottling plant seems pretty ineffective as youths are frequently seen entering the premises via the rooftops.

Interior of the car subjected to an arson attack in Brandfield Street EdinburghThis car in Brandfield Street was set on fire Saturday morning, August 5th.

The car was used to make daily visits to two elderly (97 years old and 92 years old) ladies who are in different hospitals.

It takes nearly an hour each way to do the journey on the bus and when you work for yourself taking 6 hours out of a working day costs a load of money.

At least three people, including a Spanish and a German tourist saw two youths, one wearing white, running away from the blaze.

You can call 07906 035 443 or if you prefer call the West End Police at Trophichen Street. A reward is offered for information leading to a conviction.

If the AMA project goes ahead maybe more attention will be paid by the authorities to preventing such.

See also:

A further example of Edinburgh City Centre's night life



It is often said that trends in the United States preceed the UK by some 18 months - if so this article, based on a US Government report is somewhat worrying.  We understand that a certain supermarket chain has pulled out from the Fountain plan citing over capacity and lack of demand..........


Glut of unsold new homes across US hits record high

Jul 27 2006

The glut of brand new unsold homes for sale across the United States hit a record high in June, a government report showed, as some economists warned of a worsening market in coming months.

The latest data appeared to confirm a cooling trend in the housing market, following a boom and sky-rocketing prices of recent years that have priced many hopeful new home owners out of the market. In recent months, a steady rise in interest rates hikes has prompted a downturn in home buying.

Sales of new US homes declined three percent in June to a weaker-than-anticipated annualized rate of 1.131 million units, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

The drop in new home sales was steeper that most market-watchers had expected. Wall Street economists had only predicted sales to decline to 1.164 million units.

Analysts also zeroed in on the inventory of unsold new homes which leapt to a record high last month. The government said the inventory of unsold new homes on the market rose 0.7 percent in June to a record 566,000, representing a 6.1-month supply of brand new homes at the June sales pace.

Most of the unsold new homes are located in the south of the country, the report showed.  Apart from a slight one month drop in the inventory in May, the stock of unsold new homes on the market has risen steady over the last 12 months.

"Many individuals, who signed a (purchase) contract in what they had believed was a booming housing market, may now be backing out of those contracts," said Phillip Neuhart, an analyst at Wachovia Securities.

"Thus, the new home market is likely weaker than new home sales reflects. We expect both existing and new home sales to continue their slide throughout this year and the next," Neuhart said.

Some analysts are calling for a bursting of what they see as a property bubble and the report could exert fresh pressure on the Federal Reserve to pause its cycle of rate hikes.

The home sales market has been one of the key pillars propping up the world's largest economy, and while inflation is rising, the Fed will not want to jack up interest rates too much and risk a property market crash.

New homes sales across the United States have now fallen 11.1 percent compared to June 2005, and as the federal funds interest rate has risen to 5.25 percent.

"This was a weak report," observed Patrick Newport, an economist at Global Insight.

"Our view remains that sales will continue to slow over the course of this year and into next, because higher interest rates and rising home prices have reduced demand by raising the price of housing," he said.

Aside from rising interest rates, American homeowners have also been buffetted by rising energy prices as the economy shows signs of cooling.

The government also issued a sharp downward revision for its May figures, to show new home sales of 1.166 million rather than 1.234 million initially estimated.

The median price of a new US home meanwhile dropped 1.6 percent in June to 231,300 dollars from the prior month.

On Wednesday, a separate report from the National Association of Realtors showed existing home sales fell 1.3 percent


.....July 14th 2006 House of Lords judgement details to follow shortly .....
....... EU regulations on competitive tendering to follow shortly .......

UPDATE 27th July 2006 we have been advised to keep our powder dry so no details right now..




July 6th - shape of things to come?

Photograph shows dust from demolition work at Fountainbridge
Just how much asbestos is present at the Fountain Bottling Plant and Brewery sites?

Today's picture shows uncontrolled dust and debris from another development - the old ScotMid building  at Lochrin Square.

Despite complaints to environmental  health department no attempt has been been made by Sir Robert McAlpin's  to reduce dust pollution.  The Fountain North site is admitted by the developers to contain asbestos (see below) - but no word is available on their plans to prevent, control and monitor  any release of this dangerous substance.

One industry expert has stated that in his view the entire site would need to be sealed (tented) during removal of any asbestos. Removal of some machinary at the (south) brewery site has commenced over the past month.

We can only hope the council is ware of the potential dangers and has undertaken risk assessements.  If not locals can always wander along to the numerous legal  firms such as Tods Murray, (in the tall building on left),  who have moved into the area. 
 


June 21st - at a public meeting organised last night (Tuesday 20th June 2006) by Merchiston Community Council it was stated that Edinburgh Council has had to accept a LOWER contribution from the sale of the Grove Park and that the percentage of 'affordable / social' housing has been reduced to just 22% .

Apparently the Developers (a consortium including Grosvenor, RBS and two Iranian brothers) threatened to walk away from the deal as they would be unable to make sufficient return on the site.

 A panicked estates department immediately reacted to 'save' the vast sums which will enter council coffers in time to make a difference before next year's elections - they include £650,000 for the tramways fiasco. Are these the same people who  'gave' £1million of money to Harvey Nicks when the pauper store announced it might be forced to re-locate to Glasgow without the bung? Has New Labour learned nothing despite all the fraternisation with the wealthy?

A further proble  - apparently there is no requirement for any particular proportion of the 'social / affordable' housing to be suitable for families and it was also stated that the housing will be offered frst to EXISTING  tenants of  the Canmore / Dunedin operation. So much for housing essential workers in key public services!

One wonders how councillors will react if / when legal proceedings are taken against those who voted to sell off this public park land ignoring a House of Lords Judgement - a possible breach of human rights for local residents and workers - without establishing a competitive tendering process to ensure best value for city rates and taxpayers. This  appears to be a requirement of European legislation. 

Watch this space......

June 20th - a reply from the Fountain North PR agency

WHO NEEDS MORE OFFICE SPACE?

One of the main objections to the Fountain North Development is the fact that it will continue to add office space to the existing over-supply.  A cursory walk around the City Centre will  reveal the extent of recently built property lying vacant.

Some of the major developments are listed below - readers are invited to send in details of other properties or development either planned or approved.  More details will be added shortly.


EMPTY OFFICE SPACE (existing & planned) in Central EDINBURGH at 08th August 2006

62,341 square metres  684,227 square feet
total doesn't include the Fountain North or South proposals, nor office sites in Leith, Granton, Gyle etc

see also: http://www.cityoffices.net/uk/edinburgh/available.cfm

Aerial Picture of Edinburgh - readers are asked to send details of empty or office already under construction space
Development
Status
Un-let Space
Selling Agents




Edinburgh Quay
Expected Q4 2006
5369 square metres

Morrison Street
Not yet known but mixed develoment on site of former Car Park


Morrison Street
Re-application 4 storey


Fat Sams
Under review
four stories of office space

Semple Street
David Murray
Under review
conversion of building to offices

Lochrin Square
Expected Q2 2007
5733 square metres

Lochrin Square 2
Expected Q2 2007
2945 square metres

Haymarket Terrace
Vacant space now


Haymarket Terrace
Vacant space now


Haymarket Terrace
Vacant space now


Quartermile
2007 - 2008
Mixed new 'community'

Canongate
Under review controversial Mountgrange development
Mixed new development

EICC
Development to double size includes new offices


Canning Street
Vacant space now


Torphicen Place
Development being planned on site of old Electricity Board offices


Lothian Road
Capital House space opposite Usher Hall


Tollcross
Ground floor of New Uberior House - should be shops but attemnpt being made to use for offices


Tollcross
Four stories renovated building opposite New Uberior House


Fountainbridge
Fountain North
planned mixed development
office space for 2500 persons

Fountainbridge
Fountain South
Not yet known

New St Andrew's House and St James Centre Development



And don't forget



The Gyle
Empty office space available


Edinburgh Park
Empty office space available

Leith and Granton
Office space planned




So the Fountain North Development Team of Grosvenor, AMA, RBS and Edinburgh Council want to get in on the act and add some more!

Decorations from THE SOURCE- Spring 2006 . Contact them on 0800 731 0328
Grassy feel at Fountain North - but the developers are seeking to remove a public park

A pretty green image from the latest high-quality printed offering to arrive through resident's letter boxes.

Pity that the Fountain North Development wants to REMOVE a public Park so that 'social housing' can be built at the perimeter of the scheme.

No social inclusion here Lord G.
Classy picture of the West End of Princes Street - which is half a mile from the Fountain North Development

Not quite sure why this pretty time-lapse image of the Caledonian Hotel at the West End of Princes Street was used.

 Of course it doesn't cover up recent reports that Edinburgh's City Centre Area (Princes Street, Rose Street, Queen Street, Lothian Road etc) is the Crime Capital of Scotland
Futuristic office block - certainly not in Edinburgh as the height would not get planning permission

Luckily none of the office development in Edinburgh has been allowed to reach this height - although they tried at the East end of the Canal.

Thats the trouble with having World Heritage status - residents care about these things and it makes life a little tricky for architects.Witness the  on-going row on the Royal Mile

The Grove Park area detailed below was originally common land 'donated' by the landowner in the 18th Century. A compulsory purchase order was undertaken by the City of Edinburgh Council who for the last 25 years have maintained a public park area and they also constructed a children's playground. 

Given the council's announced investigation surely it must not sell-off a public asset until  the report is received?

May 23rd 2006

For prospective homeowners here is an example of Edinburgh's City Centre Night Life
Stills from a Google video of a typical Edinburgh City Centre evening scene

Click here for the video taken in Edinburgh's City Centre adjacant to the Scotsman Hotel
It is a perfect example of why residents are fed up



Taken from the Edinburgh Evening News May 3rd 2006

Probe into city's 'mishandling' of

£25m common good assets



Research highlights 'neglect' of fund kept for Capital residents

AN investigation has been launched into claims that a record of millions of pounds' worth of land and assets belonging to the people of Edinburgh is being neglected by city leaders.

The council has been accused of mismanaging around £25 million of Edinburgh's common good assets, which include property and land such as The Meadows.

Councillors agreed to the investigation after independent research highlighted "serious shortcomings'' in the council's stewardship of the fund, with many assets in the fund now considered council property. The
report, produced by land reform expert Andy Wightman, concludes that proper management along with the recovery of lost assets could result in the fund reaching £50m by 2015.

Research shows that the former Waverley Market on the south side of Princes Street was deliberately transferred out of the common good fund by councillors in 1982 before it made way forwhat is now Princes Mall shopping centre.

The centre has since been sold on but it is estimated that if it had remained in the common good fund it would have earned around £23m and be worth around £20m as a capital asset.

Another failing was the sale of a council office at 7 Merchiston Park for nearly £lm last year.

The building was on common good land but never appeared in the fund until the oversight was pointed out by Mr Wightman. It was also revealed that council officials intend to put £1.8m of the money raised from the sale of the former bus depot on East Market Street, towards the cost of the new council headquarters. The depot is common good land.

Mr Wightman today said these discoveries could just be the tip of the iceberg because no accurate record exists. He said: "The council has to remember it is only the trustee of this fund and at the very least there should be a committee to ensure proper control of funds.

"The fund has been treated as a hindrance and an anachronism, and assets have been systematically raided to shore up budget deficits elsewhere in the council.''

The diminishing fund meant a programme of disability grants, which went towards making public buildings more accessible, had to be terminated earlier this year and the money had to be found from the council's budget

Councillors agreed to launch the independent investigation at a meeting of the resource management and audit scrutiny panel.

Common good assets were donated to Edinburgh by philanthropists or were formerly assets of the royal burgh.

The assets, which range from park land to the city's archives, are owned by all Capital residents but city officials are the trustees of the fund.

The last thorough survey of the assets was carried out in 1905 and this showed common good land in all of the Old Town, the majority of the New Town, Leith Links, The Meadows, Bruntsfield Links and The Shore as well as large areas of the Grange and the Southside.



May 3rd 2006


Who is this man and what is he doing?

Still no final planning permission but it doesn't stop the developers' plans


21st April 2006

FOUNTAIN NORTH WAITS FOR NO MAN - LET ALONE A PLANNING COMMITTEE

Here we go - pre-empting a planning committee decision once again. Why bother to go through the boring process of seeking final planning approval.  The letter below was hand delivered through residents letter boxes on April 19th . The form mentioned, asks for the earliest possible date to let the builders gain access to the properties for a survey.


This despite:

• Residents were assured at a meeting held earlier at Tollcross Community Council that no site access traffic would be entering via Grove Stret, Brandfield Street and Upper Grove Place.

• Although OUTLINE planning consent has been granted FINAL planning consent has neither been sought or granted - as at 22nd April 2006) -

- at least two members of the planning committee expressed suprise that Fountain North's builders had 'jumped the gun' and assumed that final consent would be given.

• To date (22 April 2006) Mr Martin Cooper has failed to respond to an email asking various question concerning the matters raised above.

• Here is a further public request to Mr Cooper: we will publish any reply here.

Will you publish forthwith your demolition schedule together with details of the researched impact on the immediate area?

for example:

• changes to resident and visitor parking during the demolition & construction period
• the anticipated impact on traffic flow in area
Fountainbridge, Grove Street, Upper Grove Place and Brandfield Street

• plans for site access and location of temporary site offices
• planned hours of work
• methods to be used for noise and dust control
• method of continuous monitoring of above
• what interruption to services and utilities is planned
• what procedures will be in pace for the speedy reporting of resident's complaints or safety concerns
• will you provide a guarantee that no hazardous material exists on the site to be demolished
(strong prevailing westerly winds are likely to carry debris to Grove Street and beyond)

 

Letter below is from HBG construction (part of the Royal BAM Group)

(PS hope they can build houses straighter than they printed this letter)
A letter from HBG 'requiring' access to dwellings surrounding the proposed development at Fountain North
FOUNTAIN NORTH - THE DEVELOPERS WILL ANSWER QUESTIONS
Monday 6th February  7.00PM at Tollcross Community Centre
Here's a list to get them started
Why do the developers need to acquire and build on the only piece of green space (the Grove Street Park) within 400 metres?

• Given a previous House of Lords judgement, does the Council think they have the legal right to sell ?

• How does this reduction in City Centre public space comply with European, Westminster and Holyrood policy & guidance?

• What additional traffic flow is forecast for Grove Street and the surrounding area?

• What disruption is planned for Dundee Street, Grove Street, Brandfield Street & Upper Grove Place during construction?

• What effect is planned on resident parking during construction?

• What will be the average price of 'affordable housing'?

• Now that they have outline planning permission will the developer consortium be 'selling on'?

June 19th 2006
Herewith a reply from Fountain North PR Agency - (why does a developer need a PR agency unless they realise their plans are likely to cause concern to a local population?)

Many of your points of concern will be dealt with in more detail at the public meeting we are currently organising, together with the contractors HBG.  At present, this has been delayed somewhat and is now scheduled for mid-July.  I will keep you informed of when this meeting is likely to take place.

From our last meeting, I took the following points of concern.  These are reproduced here along with our responses:


Wind tunnel effect – what has been done to prevent wind blowing down roadways & access routes?
There will be more detail on the actual design of the streets once we develop detailed planning application.  At the moment, we have consent for a masterplan only, which tends to show just building height and density.  The level of detail necessary to show how factors such as wind-blow will be reduced will only become apparent on detailed planning applications.  Our architects, Oberlanders, are a well-respected Edinburgh-based firm and know well the dynamics of how the wind blows through the city.  They are certainly taking this into account, while at the same time preserving the traditional cityscape which forms the basis for their plans.  I have passed your concerns on to them – this is something we will no doubt continue to discuss as the level of detail contained in the planning application becomes more specific.

The angle/ slope of the development – how does this affect the positioning of the office development (on Fountainbridge) ?
As you know, there is quite a considerable slope in the development site from Fountainbridge down to the West Approach Road - about eight metres in all. The building heights have been designed to reflect this – and provide a logical connection to the neighbouring developments and other larger developments such as the Exchange district.  A key design factor has been allowing for a view northwards across the city from each of the residential housing blocks as the development descends towards the West Approach Road.  The design of commercial buildings on Fountainbridge again reflects this dynamic, to create a natural sweep of buildings which is consistent with the rest of the city and will allow the maximum opportunity for light to disseminate throughout the development.

Who owns the Brandfield Street green space?
As a development team, we have purchased the area of green space adjacent to Brandfield Street from the council in good faith. Subject to section 75, this sale is now complete.   We have checked with our legal team, and I believe the Council has done likewise, and have found no evidence that this sale is in any way contrary to any existing laws or statutes.  Again, I believe the Council has referred this matter to their ‘scrutiny committee’ which has found this sale to be valid.  We will proceed with integrating this area of green space into our development plans unless notified otherwise.

Affordable housing – why is this on the edge of the development and not integrated into the development?

The affordable housing is where it is in the masterplan because this is where the Housing Association who are delivering this provision - Dunedin Canmore – have requested it.  The most important reason they gave is that it makes it easier to manage, when it is one block set apart from the main development.  Dunedin also requested it be set away from the main car-parking facilities as the majority of potential residents would be unlikely to need a car parking space.  As you know, Dunedin is a housing provider of high-repute and the quality of affordable housing will be a natural match with the high quality specification of the rest of the development. To all intents and purposes, the design will integrate itself with the rest of the development. 
 
What are we doing about asbestos on the site?
We haven’t actually taken ownership of the site as yet.  This means our contractors, HBG, have yet to investigate thoroughly the nature and state of the current buildings on the site.  There is, indeed, a high probability that there is asbestos on site.  As such, it will be dealt with following the strict codes of conduct employed by HBG - one of the UK’s largest and most reputable contractors.  We can explore this issue in more detail at the public meeting, as it is a very important point and I am sure the site manager will satisfy any concerns you may have.

 What are we doing about dust management – again, how we are dealing with this during demolition / construction?

The same answer applies as to the previous question.  HBG conform to the ‘Considerate Contractors’ codes of conduct and are 100% committed to minimising all potential disturbances to neighbours.  This includes dust management.  They are fully aware of the wind issues in this part of Edinburgh having worked on other development up here and are planning a comprehensive operation review to ensure the demolition, in the first instance is managed as cleanly, safely and environmentally-friendly as possible.  Again, another issue to explore in more detail at our public meeting.

Commitment from Developers – how do we know the developers are going to stay with the development once planning permission has been gained?

The main partners in the development team – Grosvenor, AMA and the Royal Bank – have an unmatched record for delivering quality developments, both commercial and residential.  In Grosvenor’s case, this goes back some 300 years!  Their record shows they are development focused and are not merely investors.  The companies succeed by completing high quality developments and selling them to the open-market place.  They are not an investment consortium, but one which has integrated and partnership-led approach to city centre regeneration – this means working closely with both authorities such as the council but also working closely with local residents.

I hope these answers go some way to allaying some concerns you may have.  As you know, we encourage an open and honest dialogue about serious community concerns and I would very much want to continue this process – most specifically at the public meeting.  I look forward to continuing to work closely with you.


Yours sincerely
Richard

Richard Bright
Associate Director
Weber Shandwick
9 York Place
Edinburgh, EH1 3EB
Scotland, United Kingdom
Tel: 0131 556 6649 fax: 0131 556 6741
Mobile: 07770 886914
www.webershandwick.co.uk
www.webershandwick.com
rbright@webershandwick.com


top

St James Centre - up for sale again?
- we cannot comment on the rumour that the shopping centre may suffer from the same asbestos problem which forced the closure of  New St Andrew's House but understand that on safety grounds it is forbidden for tenants to drill holes in the walls of their shop units.


City centre trading sales slump

Licencing issues       Clean air
    Planning failure

Stag & Hen Parties - Edinburgh for
FREE CONDOMS in CITY TAXIS
- beat that Prague!

Have some consideration for the local environment and take a look at
Solar Energy


Fountain North - amended planning application details and some objections here

The original plan for Fountain North
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE? (apart from darker grass)
The new imporved version of the Fountain North plan.

Find out more from Alan White the Case Officer at 0131 529 3595 and make objections by 20th October

Grove Park update 5th June 2005

Kay's Plan of Edinburgh 1836
This Map (taken from Kay's Plan of Edinburgh) and showing the area in 1836 was recently published by the Evening News. Whilst the line of Grove Street has been altered and tenements on the West Side extended, in the process cutting into the planned Public Square,  this is historical proof of good design practice in the provision of  Public Green Space in our area. Unfortuately today's planning authorities appear unwilling to sanction anything other than yet more offices, cheapo housing blocks and pubs.
Previously we reported in April that Fountain North Developers had again cancelled, at short notice planned 'presentations' to the local Tollcross Community Council and local residents group on the 'benefits' of the scheme.

Requests under the Freedom of Information Act for information about previous or alternative requests to acquire parts of the site have been met with delay and obfuscation and have already exceeded the provisions of the Act, so the matter has been passed to the relevant office in St Andrews.

We understand that some progress has been made as the developers have appointed a London based 'Branding Agency' to work on the site. We expect a new application to be submitted to the planning authorities shortly.

Watch this space, and the courts.


Fountain North - amended planning application now submitted 5th October 2005

(Oberlanders have sent seven identical notifications to one address in  a seven door 'stair' - we suggest they use the voters roll for correct numbering as failure to properly and timeously notify would create grounds for further delay.
Given that the development is employing an expensive PR operation we would appreciate more detail than what was on offer. Does this now mean that all 'ownerships' of roads, lands and clubs has been sorted? )

Find out more from Alan White the Case Officer at 0131 529 3595


Edinburgh's city centre sales slump


As Edinburgh's City Fathers continue to flood the City Centre with Traffic Wardens and close main roads to cars, worrying trading trends are appearing in the business community.

This table, which details on-going research for the Council's arms-length City Centre Management company, includes results from High Street majors such as Marks and Spencers, Jenners and Boots along with the Princes Mall shopping centre. Individual retail identities are here withheld.

KPI Trend Retail Sales %
Financial Year 2005/6 against 2004/5

Store
Number
April
May
June
July
August
Sept
1
2
1.5
4.5



2
-35
-35
-21



3
6
9
-1



4
-1.4
-1.9
-1.8



5
-7
-8
-15



6
-11
-11
-12



7
-9
-9
-10



8
-3
-1.9
-3.3



9
-8
2
-8



10
-15
-2
-9










% Change YTD
-8.1
-6.9
-7.1




Trading results are likely to have been further depressed by the G8 summit which saw Edinburgh's streets closed for demonstrations. With the next phase of the Council's major traffic re-organisation plans about to commence and tramway construction approved, expect rough trading conditions to continue, more movement to out of town centres and a clamour to reduce business rates.

Given the degree of employment in the Scottish Public Sector and coupled with recent news that one of the key figures behind the disasterously over-priced (£450m over budget) Holyrood project has been called out of retirement and re-appointed as a 'consultant' with an annual salary of over £50k , shopkeepers may well despair that their position is neither understood nor that their concerns will be addressed.

I wonder if Glasgow will maintain its leading roll  recognised by this award .


Planning bids not being fully checked admits city

from Edinburgh Evening News Saturday February 5th 2005

City chiefs have admitted neighbourhoods in the Capital risk being blighted because developments are getting the go-ahead without proper checks.

The council's over-stretched environmental and consumer services department is supposed to assess the impact of developments on the surrounding area. But departmental head Mike Drewry has told councillors residents and businesses could be harmed because not enough checks are being carried out.

The city's Tory leader Iain Whyte  said "It is absolutely vital that planning applications are given the proper scrutiny they deserve and within the required time frame" Cockburn Association director David McDonald added
"Something is wrong if the council is not properly assessing the impact of development on local amenity"



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What about fresh air, new trees and room to live & play?

The park area which Edinburgh Council are trying to sell

This is the Public Park to the West of GROVE STREET  which the Labour controlled council want to 'sell off' to a 'development consortium' comprising  Fountain North Limited and Scottish & Newcastle Plc. In their planning application they refer to it as a brownfield site. Here is a map showing the area under consideration.

But does the Council  actually  'own the land' or the roads? If so where are the deeds? When was the land purchased and by  whom?, where conditions imposed by the sale, and how come that S&N couldn't acquire the land some 30 years ago when it wanted to expand the bottling plant it has now closed?

Was the sale 'put out to tender'? Has the City been offered the highest price? Had others previously requested to purchase part or all of the site? Answers to these and other important question are being sought under the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland).

Cynics might ask what this 'deal' says about New Labour's attitude towards the environment and improving the quality of life for city centre residents? Maybe the answer is to 'increase council tax revenue' to compensate for the  of their monstrous congestion charge and the multi-million pound shortfall to pay for new council offices at Waverly.

Below is a view from the garden fences at Upper Grove Place.
Looking South over the existing Park area
According to the Evening News the Council thinks the above is only worth £1.65 million
- wonder who did the valuation and who else was asked?