Edinburgh City Centre Residents seeking to maintain / improve the quality of their lives
Keep your EAR to the ground
October 4th 2008Plans 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.
Edinburgh Citizen's Advice service
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.
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
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
On 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
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 - 4pmThe 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.
|EAR was founded by a number of
Edinburgh campaigns in 2007 and is a non-political umbrella
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
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
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
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 2008More 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
You can make a Freedom of Information request to Edinburgh Council here:
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.
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
Caltongate - these are the people to blame
Thursday 7th February 2008
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
October 2007 Issue No 22 - (page 29)
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.
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.
FIVE YEARS AGO
Flooding sparks city canal probe
June 24th 2002 Edinburgh Evening News
A 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
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
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? email@example.com
|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.
|June 27th 2007
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.
(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?
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"
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 EdinburghAtRisk. See 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.
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.
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.
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'!
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 ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) 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...
(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
Here are some other campaigning sites worth visiting. Our anger is not alone.
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:
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
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 Tollcrosshttp://www.myedinburgh.org/?page=3089&screen=1&custom=1
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.
Can you Spot the Unhealthy Trees.
|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.
|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)
Update as at 17th November 2006
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.
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'?
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.
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 ..."
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)
City centre trading sales slump
Licencing issues Clean air
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
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE? (apart from darker grass)
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
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
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
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 .
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"
Frost's Scottish Gazette web-site discusses wider issues including:
Scottish (in)Justice, Terrorism, RBS Banking Practices, The Speculative Society, ENRON, 9/11 Attack on the Pentagon and much more
its the one they tried to ban
Here's a great new UK web
site to help YOU
communicate with your MP, MSP, and Councillors
Write your MP
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.
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?