Seafield Development – opportunity or threat?

People like: 

  • a peaceful beach that is not overshadowed and has natural features. Lack of nearby population helps this. 

People don’t like: 

  • boring car showrooms, lack of public transport

What do the council mean by ‘housing-led mixed-use’ development at Seafield?

Issues with new development would be:

1. New housing: may simply put great pressure on existing infrastructure (eg schools) and services and be high end unaffordable

2. Seafield sewage and drainage: at capacity for Edinburgh and East Lothian. Veola contract ends maybe 2025. Could the Scottish Water facility provide heat power for the new development?

3. Coastal defence: sea levels might be 1 metre higher by end of century. Increasing power of storms too. Erosion of the beach as well. Seafield is an eroding beach. Sea defence infrastructure already at end of life. Musselborough undergoing £40 million flood defence scheme. Higher sea defences at Seafield could mean stronger seas scour along the coast and this may include effects on Porty beach due to movement of sand (long shore drift). 

A market-led redevelopment is councils approach so it would be gradually developed by private developers over time. Leading to a piecemeal disjointed development? If market doesn’t develop the site then they could be forced to sell. 

Or can it be a thought-through community-led development?

The 4 community councils are saying we need a masterplan that ensures a joined up approach. Have to hold back any of the 15 different landowners (there are 7 different landowners on sea side of road) from being allowed to pursue piecemeal development. It needs to be community-decided and community-led. 

Council has set up a sounding board (4 CCs, elected members for Craigentinny & Meadowbank, Kate Campbell, landowners, council)

Other CCs also strong on community governance and ownership. Edinburgh council has patchy track record in working with communities but policy from Scot Govt is for them to engage. This is not just a housing development, it’s strategic for the city. Need public sector resources to develop sewage, transport and coastal infrastructure. 

KEY ACTIONS:

RESPOND TO CITY PLAN ON SEAFIELD 

City Plan out for consultation – includes housing on brownfield sites. Market-led but use compulsory purchase where needed. Doesn’t specify what mixed use means. 

Policy suggests minimum of 65 per hectare nut could be much more. Baileyfield/ Standard Life is about 100 per hectare. 

Respond to Seafield part of the City Plan 2030 by 5pm Monday 20th December 2021. The relevant pages are  69-70. (See notes at bottom of this report)

See (2) below.

Malcolm Fraser reported comments re Seafield: 

  • opportunity to create a new Porty. 
  • Porty works because it’s got the Prom, then networks of small roads and alley ways then High St. 
  • So have low public buildings on new Seafield Prom where people will walk and meet (schools, nurseries, cafes) and then higher housing further back

DEVELOP AND PROPOSE COMMUNITY-LED MASTERPLAN 

What are the components of a good new community at Seafield? 

1. Housing: Inclusive and affordable new builds, rather than high end housing. Market will push for higher density (more than Baileyfield). We need to push for good design and community infrastructure etc. Have higher builds on inner side of Seafield Rd (still get sea view) and lower by sea so don’t worsen the overshadowing. 

2. Transport: Narrow and treeline the road and make it possible for active travel. Ensure good public transport connectors (eg Granton/ Leith to Portobello). Could use railway track to join to trams at Leith. 

3. Work: Community hub for small business employment (Edinburgh Palette etc) 

4. Community infrastructure: New primary school, GP surgery, library. 

5. Green space: Shared community green spaces at the heart of it, linked to Prom and diverse habitats. Linking the Wildlife area (Meadows Yard), Park and Prom) adjacent to housing 

6. Coast: Celebrate the Coast – living beach, increase ecology. Huge cost of ensuring coastal defences v-v rising sea and storms, but the solutions need to be the right ones. 

7. Prom: Possibly lower and upper Prom. Upper could be schools, nursery, cafe and shops. Lower could include biodiversity and rcreation. More people means less wildlife. Need pathways into the new development that have workspaces, cafes, temporary buildings. Number of people using the beach has increased (boats, paddle boards, fish and chips). Have picnic tables. Space for ad hoc outdoor sports. Porty beach is busy: we need a public square at Seafield intersecting with the Prom.  

8. Renewable energy: e.g. Heat from sewage works for 2,500 homes at Seafield 

IMPROVE REPRESENTATION ON SOUNDING BOARD

Craigentinny and Meadowbank councillors wanted only their councillors on the Sounding Board. We should have our reps on it too. We should have community organisations like Action Porty represented on it too. We have no problem with other councillors and community organisations being on it. It has to be an inclusive process. 

“Our voice into local plan is important and into the Sounding Board is important. We need to assert our right to be there because we use that Prom and the use of the Prom at Seafield impacts on us. They will use facilities, shops, etc in Porty not Meadowbank”

For us, Seafield is an extension of Porty (others may see it differently) because the beach makes for a continuity. 

Strong feelings around participation and content. 

ENSURE COUNCIL PRIORITISES COMMUNITY NEEDS

Council was thinking of not allocating Seafield for housing. As soon as you mention it can be housing developers move in. One councillor suggested it’s not top priority for housing but then there is the danger of piecemeal development. 

The carrot for the council is that it needs communities to be on board in order to unlock funds from Govt (eg £300 million annual fund for place based Devpt) to pay for coastal defences.

After meeting NOTES ON THE CITY PLAN 2030:

We all need to respond to the Seafield part of the City Plan 2030 by 5pm Monday 20th December 2021. 

The relevant pages are  69-70, stating that “Planning permission will be granted for development within the boundary of Seafield, as defined on the Proposal Map, provided it accords with a Place Brief, a flood risk and coastal erosion appraisal, the Seafield Site Development Principles and an approved master plan” It then goes on to outline the process and principles.

See also brief points on 

  • page 146 on Environment: [NB: this focuses on surface water and sewage not on the impacts of climate change, sea level rise and coastal storms]
  • page 161 on Housing: “The Council will prepare a Place Brief for the site which will establish high level principles to inform future master planning and design processes. Once approved the Place Brief will become non-statutory planning guidance. etc”)
  • page 167 on active travel: “New Active Travel Route: Along Seafield Road and connection to Craigentinny Avenue via Fillyside.”
  • page 172 Public Transport (“Seafield Road to Leith (southside of Leith Links)”
  • page 173 Tram route:  [NB: no mention of safeguarding a link from Leith to Seafield/Portobello]
  • page 181 Education (“3 class extension of The Royal High Primary School” and “55 secondary pupils (Portobello HS)”

(NB: see also pages 94-96 for Brunstane & Newcraighall)