Ravelrig – community sets out demands to CEC and CALA

Now that the Ravelrig development is inevitable, Balerno Community Council have begun negotiations with CEC (City of Edinburgh Council) and CALA Homes to make the best of a bad deal for Balerno. Whilst asserting that the housing represents the wrong houses in the wrong place (but great news for CALA’s record £60 m. profits) the community needs to demand the best possible outcomes from a wealthy developer who will be building up at Ravelrig for the next 4-5 years, adding to local traffic congestion with lorries, vans & earth movers.  BCC (Balerno Community Council) is the lead negotiating body in this process, but as it represents all local residents, we should not be shy in offering support and suggestions to BCC, who have begun to formulate their demands in the following letter to CEC:

Comments by Balerno Community Council in relation to… 16/05744/AMC… Ravelrig Road, Balerno

(i) Number of units to be built

We consider that any permission should be restricted to 120 units. The Council has consistently argued against large scale housing development in Balerno, and that position is based in large part on the effect of such development on the A70, Lanark Road West. The original application for planning permission, in principle, for the Ravelrig site addressed a proposal for development of 120 units.

  • While the outline permission did not limit the number, the current application for 140 units represents an increase of 18%, and that inevitably will entail an even more significant increase both in the potential traffic volumes on Lanark Road West, and on parking within the village itself.
  • We also think an assumption of 1.6 cars per household is likely to be an underestimate given the distance of the site from the nearest bus stops (min 700m and max 1.3km) and also the distance from the west end of the site
    to Dean Park Primary School (@ 2.6km). We think the location of the site coupled to the distance from public transport services will lead to an increase in private car use, and that 2 cars per unit is a more likely estimate
    for car availability per unit.
  • Given the current extreme loading on Lanark Road West and pressure within Balerno on parking we think therefore that development within the site should be restricted to 120 units.

(ii) Traffic – parking

We think also that looking at emerging patterns of car park use, there will be a greater use of casual parking opportunities as residents drive to a convenient bus stop. Car parking within Balerno is under severe pressure, in part because of all day parking by commuters who cannot easily access bus services. We think that CEC should consider upgrade of the car park at Malleny Park using using funds from within the S75 agreement allocation
to provide more capacity.

(iii) Public Transport

We consider that greater use of public transport should be encouraged and that funds from the transport allocation under the relevant s75 agreement should be used to ensure that enhanced bus services including the projected 63 service to Hermiston Park and Ride and Gyle Centre can be provided.

(iv) Road layout and safety

  • The Council is concerned about both pedestrian and vehicle safety at the Ravelrig Road and Lanark Road West junction. Informal use of paths in the Ravelrig Walled Garden area to the south of Ravelrig Drive is likely to
    increase. It is likely that pedestrians will cross at that junction to access Ravelrig Drive and those paths. We think that traffic control, including a pedestrian crossing at the junction is likely to become necessary for both
    traffic and pedestrian safety. We think that funds from within the S75 agreement allocation should be available for this purpose.
  • We also think that consideration needs to be given to ensuring a road surface on Ravelrig Road to take account of not infrequent snow and ice conditions. The north-eastern end of the site marks the start of the sharp northwards slope of Ravelrig Road.

(v) Paths networks

  • As noted above we consider that use of informal paths in the Ravelrig Drive area is likely to increase with this development. At present there may be some seasonal control due to the state of those paths, but we think that
    investment is necessary to upgrade the path network, including by installing lighting, in order to provide safe routes to school and the village centre.
  • We have also noted the paths network within the Ravelrig site. The indicative plan in the Supporting Statement suggests a path exiting at the NW corner of the site but without any suggested connection beyond the
    perimeter.

(vi) Recreational space

  • We have not noted any location for a playpark within the site. There is currently no playpark space with play equipment to the north of Lanark Road West within Balerno, altgough we note that provision for such is
    required under the S75 conditions attaching to the Newmills site permission. We think provision should be should be made for playpark provision also at Ravelrig. In addition we think that existing play-park
    equipment at the only formal play-park space in Balerno at present, immediately to the west of Dean Park Primary School should be upgraded specifically to include a swing park, using funds from within the S75
    agreement allocation.

(vii) Use of S75 funds

  • It is our understanding a S75 agreement exists in relation to the site involving an obligation extending to £573K for Education related spend (two classrooms at Dean Park Primary School) and £284K for transport related spend. The Council considers that in the event that the Council is minded to allow this application it should be upon the basis that appropriate funds are made available for the various matters referred to above.
  • We have noted also that the S75 agreement relevant to the Newmills development – 15/05100/FUL – for which permission was granted in November 2016, that the S75 contribution for education is £429,602 (Indexed linked) for 3 Primary School classes (we now understand for Dean Park PS as opposed to Currie). We are not clear why there is a differential in the required contribution which appears to suggest a higher contribution
    for 2 classrooms than for 3.

(viii) Consultation with affected residents

  • The Council recognises that CALA have been developing their application in discussion with affected bodies during the period of consultation on this application. However the Council was also disappointed to hear at its
    meeting with CALA on 10 January that residents had still not received detail from CALA by the date of the expiry of the advertised period for lodging of comments. The Council would hope that CEC would consider comments received after the expiry of the deadline, where such detail had not been available to allow for timeous comment by those affected.

(Balerno Community Council / dated 14 January 2017)

Read on for similar & additional comments by:

1. Balerno Village Trust

2. Balerno Green Belt group.

1. BVT:

Balerno is a close knit community, with a strong community spirit. BVT believes it is essential that any new developments in the village are properly and fully integrated into existing community networks. To this end, we believe it is imperative that physical links from and to the development should positively contribute and enhance the local community networks and ensure new residents are given every opportunity to integrate into the community.

Safe Links to the heart of Balerno

All new developments should facilitate walking and cycling to the village centre, schools and bus stops as well as facilitating linkages to existing cycle path and walkways. We are a diverse community and it is important that all such routes are available for use by both fully mobile and less mobile members of our community. The routes must be barrier free and surfaces suitable for use by pushchairs and wheelchairs. Integrating the development footpaths and linking them to existing footpaths and routes into the village will not only encourage exercise and social interaction but will reduce pollution and car use.

There is a network of historic paths south of Ravelrig Drive that could provide safe accessible routes for walking and cycling from the development site to Bridge Road opposite the High School. In order to achieve this route a pedestrian footpath is required on the western edge of Ravelrig Drive to provide a safe route and link to the existing roadside footpath network.

A pedestrian crossing would be required at Lanark Road West / Ravelrig Drive / Ravelrig Road junction to facilitate links to safer routes to schools.

The paths beyond Ravelrig Drive require to be upgraded to meet a suitable standard and ensure accessibility for all. These paths are constructed to a very poor standard and surfaces are unsuitable for effective use; BVT believe that in order to provide occupiers (particularly children and the elderly) of the new development with safe routes to school and other amenities in the village these footways require to be upgraded to an adoptable standard being properly surfaced and lit. BVT consider that developers of the Ravelrig Drive development should be required to provide this upgraded footpath or provide sufficient funds to enable the Council to undertake the required works and that the granting of planning permission should be conditional on this need.

Due to the inaccessibility of parts of the original historic footpath the current informal route crosses the Ravelrig Walled Garden (the walls are Category B listed by Historic Scotland). BVT consider that the historic original line of the path around the historic walled garden should be reinstated in order to provide the essential safe route to the village centre. The BVT are supportive of future re-use of the garden as a community garden and consider it essential that the integrity of the garden is capable of reinstatement and that foot/cycle ways follow the historic route around its walled edge.

Ravelrig Road and Lanark Road West Junction

This junction is already awkward and is set to get busier. If walking and cycling are to be encouraged, then a safe crossing is essential. A pedestrian crossing is needed particularly for those crossing south to north as visibility along Lanark Road West is poor. The BVT request that the Council require that the developer provide this crossing as a condition of the granting of planning permission Ravelrig Road.

The new development will bring an increase in traffic, putting more pressure on Lanark Road West and on parking facilities in Balerno. Inevitably an increasing number of drivers will seek to avoid congestion on Lanark Road West by turning in a northerly direction along Ravelrig Road.

At present, not only is this road in very poor condition but there are 2 dangerously narrow bridges before Long Dalmahoy Road. The bridge over the railway is barely wide enough for two cars to pass in opposite directions, and drivers are not able to see approaching traffic from opposite directions. This is closely followed by a single track bridge over a burn where oncoming car drivers are completely unsighted. Widening these two bridges and improving visibility at corners, would improve safety and help mitigate the increase in traffic on Lanark Road West.
The BVT request that the Council seek an appropriate proportional financial contribution from the developers to address the deficiencies and safety issues highlighted above.

Car Parking at 3G pitch / Malleny Park

The Impact of circa 200 additional cars is likely to put increased pressure on car parking at local facilities, the High School and newly improved facilities at Malleny Park. These car parks are already at capacity during evening and weekends when community use is at its highest. To alleviate the impact of the development it is considered reasonable that the car parks at Malleny Park are enhanced / resurfaced to increase capacity and provide safer movement of traffic and segregation of pedestrians (particularly younger children) from vehicles, and improved amenity for those using the facilities. The BVT request that the Council seek a financial contribution of an appropriate level to enable works required to the issues of safety and capacity which this development will inevitably contribute too.

Play Facilities

The introduction of the new development will necessitate additional play capacity and as there is no provision for formal play areas on site children will use existing facilities elsewhere in the village. BVT consider that the most sustainable location for this is to enhance the capacity of the only play park in the village which is adjacent to Dean Park Primary School. This playpark does not have any swings, and BVT consider that contribution of £25,000 is sought from the Developers to enable the purchase and installation of swings to address increased levels of play park usage arising from the influx of further children to the village.

2. BGB:

Balerno Green Belt members believe that the Ravelrig development is not what is needed for the Balerno area, representing the wrong housing in the wrong location, and are also concerned that the resulting increase in traffic will cause further congestion on both Lanark Road and also on the Dalmahoy Road.

However the best outcome at this stage would be a working relationship between Balerno community representatives and CALA, that jointly recognises some of the problems that the development will cause, agrees on ways of mitigating them.

Although CALA state that they will help to fund MOVA lights at Gillespie Crossroads, which can indeed speed up traffic flows, this will not actually reduce the number of cars on Lanark Road or indeed on the roads that lead into Balerno in the Ravelrig area, e.g. Dalmahoy Road.

Active Travel & Public Transport

Options that would reduce car usage along Lanark Road include the encouragement local cycling and walking, and also increased provision of public transport routes.

Walking

  • Within the Balerno area we would like to see pathways – all-weather and illuminated – that would encourage local people to walk rather than drive.
  • One example of this could be to upgrade the path from the new development area through Ravelrig onto Bridge Road. This could encourage secondary pupils from Balerno High School to walk easily and safely to and from the new development.
  • A further example of reducing car usage locally would be to provide a walkway from the bus terminus through to Red Moss carpark. This would enable incoming walkers to take the bus to the terminus – rather than having to drive – and then walk up to Theipmuir reservoir, a popular walking area.
  • This would sustainably improve access to the Pentlands for city dwellers, which in turn could benefit local businesses within Balerno – cafes, restaurants/pubs. Also local people could leave their cars at home for this, enabling safe access for nondrivers, buggies and wheelchairs alike.

Cycling

  • One method of encouraging cycling, and reducing car usage, would be to surface and illuminate the Water of Leith walkway down towards the Water of Leith Visitor Centre. At the moment local people are reluctant to cycle the A70 through Juniper Green, as the route is very congested with cars, buses and lorries.
  • A smooth, clean and well lit cycleway would greatly increase cycle usage along the Walkway and would help to reduce traffic congestion and local pollution. The walkway already forms part of National Cycle Network (Route 75) and is promoted by Sustrans as such.
  • Also, within the Currie and Balerno areas there are to be several CALA developments (Newmills, Riccarton, Ravelrig) where the increased traffic generated could be mitigated by new local cycleways, potentially forming a local network within the local area.

Public transport

  • Currently the main bus service, the 44, goes only into the city centre. Although frequent, it leaves out destinations such as Livingston, the Gyle, Heriot Watt Park & Ride, Hermiston Gait, the Edinburgh Tram, or indeed any destination other than the City centre, itself at about 45 – 50  minutes journey time. Having to travel into town and then change to go elsewhere is often too time consuming for commuters to be realistic.
  • Identifying and helping to create at least some new bus routes would be of benefit in reducing the congestion and car usage that will result from the new local CALA developments.

In conclusion, Balerno Green Belt believes that local people should be able to genuinely participate in planning outcomes, as local people will know their local area better than anyone. We would like to see sustainable solutions to transport congestion, and other infrastructure issues, that genuinely reflect local needs.

We believe that improved participation and consultation for local representative organisations (primarily Balerno Community Council) will result in improved outcomes for the local area and also in better relationships between CALA and communities.

For downloads of above:

BCC letter here

BVT letter here

BGB letter here

 

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