Letter to Robert Gatliff from Alan Henderson
Robert W Gatliff Date: 17 August 2006
Portobello Community Council Your Ref:
Our Ref: FN/ER/065
Dear Mr Gatliff
NW Portobello Masterplan
You, and many others, recently wrote to Planning regarding plans for the future of North West Portobello.
It appears that some confusion has arisen from what many people thought was a draft plan that had already been prepared. In fact, this document is only intended to become the background for a contract to employ an independent expert to write the draft plan for the area. The plan itself will be written in consultation with local people, before it is considered by the Councilâ€™s Planning Committee.
Further to the comments we have received, we felt it would be appropriate to clarify a number of issues in relation to the forthcoming exercise;-
Â· The document some have seen is a draft framework for the employment of an independent consultant, not a draft plan for the area. As a draft, it had not been approved by the Planning Committee, and is now being amended in the light of comments and feedback we have received.
Â· This draft was referred to at a recent meeting of the Community Council, and talked about in the press, by one of the companies who own the land. The landowner had this document because the Council was consulting them privately, as possible co-funder of the consultant, on its content. It is most unfortunate that this public discussion has caused such distress locally.
Â· Much of the feedback we have received has expressed concern regarding the form that public consultation might take. Councillor Davies has given a commitment that a â€˜blank pageâ€™ discussion will take place with the Portobello community early in the process â€“ once an independent consultant who will write the plan has been appointed by the Council and can take part in and listen to that discussion. There will also be opportunities later on for the local community to comment on and debate the draft plan, before it comes to the Planning Committee for decision.
Â· The â€˜blank pageâ€™ discussion, however, like the Masterplan itself, will have to take account of planning law and existing planning policy, which itself can have the force of law. It will also have to reflect the needs of the City as well of those of the neighbourhood. It was these existing policies and constraints which the draft consultantâ€™s framework has set out.
Â· Concern has also been expressed regarding statements in the draft framework about providing land for employment and the potential mix of uses on the Baileyfield sites. At present, most of North West Portobello is zoned for 100% employment use â€“ industry and commerce. However, the Council believes that both living and employment needs are important and that is the pattern of mixed use, which makes Portobello a special and successful place. We think that mixed use should happen in North West Portobello too. One option is to suggest to the consultant that the present 100% Industry/business zoning for the area to perhaps reduced to 50% or thereabouts. Any new business uses developed would then be restricted to those which would be compatible with residential uses. However, the balance of uses for the plan area is one issue that will be discussed during the public consultation process.
Â· This guidance does not imply that the Council is seeking a large superstore for the Baileyfield site or the wider North West Portobello area. Nor does it â€œopen the door to a fresh supermarket bidâ€