The Big Picture

Discussion and debate on the issues affecting Portobello

The Big Picture

Postby Bob Jefferson » 29 Jun 2005, 21:29

I felt we needed a new thread to discuss 'the big picture'. The re-location of the Pitz is simply the first piece of a much larger jigsaw, involving a new library, a new community centre and other community facilities. Somewhere along the line we need to find £25M for a new PHS as well.

I'm not entirely sure whether the following message, which was copied to me earlier today, should be in the public domain or not, but it is now.

Email from Lawrence Marshall to Mark Turley, CEC Director of Housing

Dear Mark,

You might be aware of the proposals to build a new library and also a new (and perhaps conjoined) community centre in Portobello.

The agreed sale of part of the PowerLeague site on Portobello High Street begins to unblock the impasse which has frustrated progress on these matters.

If this goes through we could pay for and build a new community centre on that section of the Power League site which will remain in Council ownership. We could then most probably pay for and build a new library on the existing library site by re-developing this with housing above.

Better still, however, would be the possibility of rebuilding the library on the High Street itself by regenerating the Williamfield Square housing blocks. These, in the heart of the Portobello Conservation Area, look down-at-heel and architecturally inappropriate.

The block fronting Portobello High Street is the most crucial here - but potentially we could include the larger block fronting Rosefield Avenue. This might allow us to build a new library with conjoined community centre behind. Not only would new flats be provided above the new library along Portobello High Street (continuing east beyond the current building line and building on the extended pavement put in place when Rosefield Avenue was closed off at its junction with the High Street) but flats could also then be built on the former community centre and library sites as well. We would also have created a sense of a new public square formed by the Town Hall and the adjacent shops and the new library with its east-facing entrance.

I'm conscious that some at least of the houses in Williamfield Square will now have been sold off. This will complicate matters but I guess need not act as a show-stopper. Could I ask you to please look into the ownership of 1 - 18 Williamfield Square and particularly 1 - 6 (fronting the High Street). Would we need to buy the owners out? Could we offer them the choice of a new flat above the library if that's the site of their current home or in the proposed additional flats if they currently live in 7 - 18? I'm sure that elswehere in the city we'll have gained experience of this kind of thing when regenerating areas.

David Rogers is currently looking into the ownership of the shops (half of which are empty) below 1 - 6 Williamfield Square.

The report to the Council Executive of 7th June indicated that a further report would be put before the Council in 6 months following further work on the PowerLeague sale and consultation, led by elected members, with the local community.

At Portobello Community Council on Monday evening (27th June) it was agreed that the evening of Monday 29th August be set aside for community groups and Council officials to go over the various options available to us. I would be most grateful therefore for your considered input to match in with this timetable!

The notion of trying to rebuild the library right on the High Street is one which I sense has a good deal of support and is one which is well worth pursuing. That it also would make the heart of Portobello look much better is an additional and not inconsiderable benefit.

Myself and Maureen Child would be more than happy to meet with you and other relevant officers of the Council to begin to consider these issues.

Lawrence
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Postby Porty » 29 Jun 2005, 22:15

From Lawrence's Email:

"The notion of trying to rebuild the library right on the High Street is one which I sense has a good deal of support and is one which is well worth pursuing. "

This is the sort of language that worries me:We start with a notion and end with a personal "I sense has a good deal of support"

What do you base this sense on Lawrence?

Aside from that,its good to see an open discussion on what Bob calls the big picture and there appears to be some radical thinking in the email, lthough I'm not sure how practical a compulsory purchase of homes is?

On the subject of the Pitz site. I wonder if the people of the Portobello Community could organise a buy out of the land from the Council? I believe it possible to get Government assistance with this type of idea and Im sure it was achieved on one of the Scottish Islands recently. I'm thinking that the 3.6M the council is getting for the site could be raised and "we" sit on the site til Pitz blink.
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Postby Gemini » 29 Jun 2005, 23:59

Porty wrote:From Lawrence's Email:

"The notion of trying to rebuild the library right on the High Street is one which I sense has a good deal of support and is one which is well worth pursuing. "

This is the sort of language that worries me:We start with a notion and end with a personal "I sense has a good deal of support"

What do you base this sense on Lawrence?

That would be the wide community consultation Porty :roll:

Aside from that,its good to see an open discussion on what Bob calls the big picture and there appears to be some radical thinking in the email, lthough I'm not sure how practical a compulsory purchase of homes is?

I thought Lawrence's ref. to Williamsfield flats, was uncalled for.
These are people's homes?


On the subject of the Pitz site. I wonder if the people of the Portobello Community could organise a buy out of the land from the Council? I believe it possible to get Government assistance with this type of idea and Im sure it was achieved on one of the Scottish Islands recently. I'm thinking that the 3.6M the council is getting for the site could be raised and "we" sit on the site til Pitz blink.


Not impossible.
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Postby Porty » 30 Jun 2005, 09:43

Gemini wrote:Not impossible.


Really?

I'm pretty sure money could be raised against the title of the land its brilliant security and likely to appreciate as years go by. It would take some amount of organising and there would have to be some way of paying off the money in the long run.
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Postby Gemini » 30 Jun 2005, 09:53

Porty wrote:
Gemini wrote:Not impossible.


Really?

I'm pretty sure money could be raised against the title of the land its brilliant security and likely to appreciate as years go by. It would take some amount of organising and there would have to be some way of paying off the money in the long run.



Welll get your thoughts together and lets have a look at the possibilities.

Speak to Diana, she has some information on this, although many avenues still to be explored.
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Postby Porty » 30 Jun 2005, 11:00

Gemini wrote:
Speak to Diana, she has some information on this, although many avenues still to be explored.


Ok will speak to her tomorrow at the WBC BBQ if the weather holds up.
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Postby Jamesie » 30 Jun 2005, 13:49

Does anyone have experience of compulsory purchase legislation? Does anyone know how time consuming such a process is, particularly in light of the human rights considerations of residents in situ?? Trust me, this would be a very complex matter, especially given the proposals for new flats to be built on the existing site.
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Postby Bob Jefferson » 30 Jun 2005, 17:07

Jamesie, I think Porty is talking about the community purchase of the Pitz site, although I think it's probably a bit late for that now.
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Postby Poppy » 30 Jun 2005, 22:20

Jamesie wrote:Does anyone have experience of compulsory purchase legislation? Does anyone know how time consuming such a process is, particularly in light of the human rights considerations of residents in situ?? Trust me, this would be a very complex matter, especially given the proposals for new flats to be built on the existing site.


CPOs are the work of the devil! :evil: :evil: :evil:
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Postby Porty » 30 Jun 2005, 22:54

Bob Jefferson wrote:Jamesie, I think Porty is talking about the community purchase of the Pitz site, although I think it's probably a bit late for that now.
I don't think Jamesie is confused. Particularly given his reference to "existing residents".

Going back to Big Cheese's proposal. I havd never heard of people being forced out of their homes in order to relocate a Library.
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Postby Bob Jefferson » 30 Jun 2005, 23:07

Porty wrote:On the subject of the Pitz site. I wonder if the people of the Portobello Community could organise a buy out of the land from the Council?


Then I am confused. What exactly do you propose to CPO?
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Postby Gemini » 30 Jun 2005, 23:08

Porty wrote:
Bob Jefferson wrote:Jamesie, I think Porty is talking about the community purchase of the Pitz site, although I think it's probably a bit late for that now.
I don't think Jamesie is confused. Particularly given his reference to "existing residents".

Going back to Big Cheese's proposal. I havd never heard of people being forced out of their homes in order to relocate a Library.


Well we all have now :evil:
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Postby ecm » 30 Jun 2005, 23:11

Bob Jefferson wrote:

Then I am confused. What exactly do you propose to CPO?


"Could I ask you to please look into the ownership of 1 - 18 Williamfield Square and particularly 1 - 6 (fronting the High Street). Would we need to buy the owners out? Could we offer them the choice of a new flat above the library if that's the site of their current home or in the proposed additional flats if they currently live in 7 - 18?"
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Postby wangi » 30 Jun 2005, 23:14

Lets not get too dramatic! ;)

It's not a bad idea to get rid of what a lot of people must consider an eyesore and regenerate the site so it will have the library (rather than existing empty shops) and flats above.

Of course it needs the full backing of the residents in those existing flats and they mustn't get short changed- new flat with same sq m, temp accom during build and compensation etc.

It's a bold idea.
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Postby Bob Jefferson » 30 Jun 2005, 23:16

And what's that got to do with the Pitz site then? :?
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Postby Bob Jefferson » 30 Jun 2005, 23:21

wangi wrote:Lets not get too dramatic! ;)

It's not a bad idea to get rid of what a lot of people must consider an eyesore and regenerate the site so it will have the library (rather than existing empty shops) and flats above.

Of course it needs the full backing of the residents in those existing flats and they mustn't get short changed- new flat with same sq m, temp accom during build and compensation etc.

It's a bold idea.


I agree and I'm sure that in these circumstances the residents usually end up scoring and get a much more desirable and valuable property. But it's just one scenario and it may never happen.
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Postby ecm » 30 Jun 2005, 23:22

Bob Jefferson wrote:And what's that got to do with the Pitz site then? :?


:lol: :lol: :lol:

Nothing at all.
I think there was the idea of community buy out of the Pitz site?
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Postby Pal of Porty » 30 Jun 2005, 23:26

Anyone fancy taking a punt on one one the empty shop units to get a relocated upgrade or bought out! :glasses5:
Justice delayed is justice denied.
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Postby Porty » 01 Jul 2005, 10:16

ecm wrote:
Bob Jefferson wrote:And what's that got to do with the Pitz site then? :?


:lol: :lol: :lol:

Nothing at all.
I think there was the idea of community buy out of the Pitz site?


Im glad someone is following the programme. I thought the thread was called the big picture to attract some "out the box" thinking. So I suggested the community purchase of the Pitz. Why is it too late for this?

As for the CPO, it was the Big Cheese that suggested it in his letter to Mark. If, as Wangi hopes is the case, there is support from the residents of the existing properties then it is a damned fine idea.

However, it is one massive if.

It was a bit insensitive to publish the Big Cheese's letter. There are some elderly people living in those flats and chinese whispers can cause distress. Particularly when backed up in writing by a local councillor I hope this wasn't a planned "leak". A way of testing the water.
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Postby Jamesie » 01 Jul 2005, 13:00

Bob Jefferson wrote:Jamesie, I think Porty is talking about the community purchase of the Pitz site, although I think it's probably a bit late for that now.


Bob

I was referreing to this:

Lawrence Marshall: wrote:I'm conscious that some at least of the houses in Williamfield Square will now have been sold off. This will complicate matters but I guess need not act as a show-stopper. Could I ask you to please look into the ownership of 1 - 18 Williamfield Square and particularly 1 - 6 (fronting the High Street). Would we need to buy the owners out? Could we offer them the choice of a new flat above the library if that's the site of their current home or in the proposed additional flats if they currently live in 7 - 18? I'm sure that elswehere in the city we'll have gained experience of this kind of thing when regenerating areas.


And therefore queried how the owners would be "bought out" if not by a CPO :? [/b]
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Postby Epykat » 01 Jul 2005, 14:33

If the Council can afford to buy these people out why can't they afford to buy the Phoenix House site, put everything in the one area - library, community centre, cafe - and not upset people who might actually like where they stay?
Enough of your nonsense - get back to the Play Pen!
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Postby Porty » 01 Jul 2005, 14:39

Ek to be fair this is a discussion thread and its not at all clear what the Council could or could not do?

As far as I can make out from BC's proposal, the Council won't front any money over and above the funds allocated from the Pitz giveaway bonanza.
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Postby Epykat » 01 Jul 2005, 14:43

I know it's a discussion site - and that was a question for discussion
Enough of your nonsense - get back to the Play Pen!
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Postby Porty » 01 Jul 2005, 14:49

and discussing is what I was doing. :D
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Postby Epykat » 01 Jul 2005, 15:09

No you weren't. You were being dismissive :roll:
Enough of your nonsense - get back to the Play Pen!
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Postby Porty » 01 Jul 2005, 15:16

Darling, you obviously aint seen dismissive. :D
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Postby Epykat » 01 Jul 2005, 15:42

Is that an offer? :twisted:
Enough of your nonsense - get back to the Play Pen!
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Postby Bob Jefferson » 01 Jul 2005, 16:50

Porty wrote:It was a bit insensitive to publish the Big Cheese's letter. There are some elderly people living in those flats and chinese whispers can cause distress. Particularly when backed up in writing by a local councillor I hope this wasn't a planned "leak". A way of testing the water.


To be honest, my enthusiasm to share what appeared to be a bold and exciting idea got the better of my discretion and good judgement on this occasion. Having tried unsuccessfully to contact Lawrence by email and phone I decided to go ahead and publish, on the grounds that it was bound to become public knowledge pretty soon anyway. I accept that it would have been better to keep this under wraps at this stage.

I hope that the residents concerned aren't unduly alarmed at something which may never happen.

I think Lawrence will forgive me, but he may be a bit more selective about what he copies me into in future. :oops:
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Postby Porty » 03 Jul 2005, 12:55

Bob Jefferson wrote:I think Lawrence will forgive me, but he may be a bit more selective about what he copies me into in future. :oops:


Unless you did exactly what he wanted you to do. :roll: :roll:

I heve been re-reading Lawrence's email again and he uses his "sense of" expression twice in the communicae. I believe this is dangerous, as he forms policies on things that he "senses". IMHO that is neither sound nor good enough. Here is what I mean:

Quote from Lawrence:

We would also have created a sense of a new public square formed by the Town Hall and the adjacent shops and the new library with its east-facing entrance.


A sense of a Square?

Its a funny sort of Square that has only two sides and even they are of unequal length.
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Postby Maria » 11 Jul 2005, 12:21

Porty wrote:A sense of a Square?
Its a funny sort of Square that has only two sides and even they are of unequal length.

Bit like this one then?
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Postby Porty » 11 Jul 2005, 14:18

Marya wrote:
Porty wrote:A sense of a Square?
Its a funny sort of Square that has only two sides and even they are of unequal length.

Bit like this one then?

Marya, I stand corrected, I am sure that the Senses at be do imagine PHS will be exactly like that.
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Postby Maria » 11 Jul 2005, 14:27

Tree lined pavements, smart coffee shops, upmarket retailers, financial institutions..sounds good to me. Maybe we could do without the prostitutes tho' :? :lol:
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