Minutes May 2021
The fifth digital NCC meeting of the year capturing community highlights and on-going issues. The Newtongrange Church restoration and the large Springfield development proposal was once again central to discussions, in preparation for the second virtual consultation. Welfare Park and noticeboard improvements discussed. Latest developments for Community Development Trust, rollout of the second issue of the Newtongrange Flyer and Police and Councillor report tabled. There was intermittent issues with the zoom connection throughout the meeting.
|Members Present||In Attendance|
- Welcome and introductions –
- Apologies on behalf of Clr. Muirhead and Jo Dunlop
- NCC members introduced themselves to meeting
- Attendees introduced themselves to meeting, main interest in the Springfield Development issue.
- JA welcomed Gary Sheret and Rev. Gayle Taylor the next steps regarding Newtongrange Church redevelopment.
- Actions from minutes – JA to have further park discussions with Justin Venton; Fiona Horne now setting up NDT website; Clr J to organise equipment for litter-pick on 29/05/21 and JA/AM to continue with bank dual signatory access replacing Jason Ferry.
- April Minutes – formally accepted (proposer AM) (seconded LA):
- Police Report – N/A
- RA to make further request for report asap and send it when made available.
- RA to also contact PC McFarlane regarding a Community Police participation at ‘The Pool’ , unavailable in June.
- Newtongrange Church Masterplan Update – GT appointed 09/2019 for five year Transition post. Newtongrange Church deemed an important feature point for the village. GT highlighted her role as Transition Minister. Church of Scotland mission statement; Well-equipped space, in the Right Place. Newtongrange Church is deemed in the right place (no church will less than 2,000 inhabitants), this project seeks to address the equipping. Needs People, Place & Partnership – key aims for the new building. Need for increased accessibility, heating and updated toilet facilities. GT mentioned the vision document requirement for building to be intergenerational and open for all. Sanctuary space to remain (current ecclesiastical building), two halls to be demolished and land sold for residential development. Business Plan is concluded, with a view to submit a formal planning application in the summer. Church to develop 1 large space and 4 smaller spaces from 60 / 6 users – focus on a variety of space types with maximum flexibility. Seating capacity 290 with raised are for stage for large community/school events.
Currently only 13% of the available building time is used. Project aims to increase the usage. MC looking into relocation of Library to church building – this decision is with the Council, church to continue with project in the meantime. This activity is not critical to the church development, but seen as a great opportunity for sharing services and intergeneration benefit. GS mentioned opening up the facade at the front of building, community noticeboard and improving green space i.e garden beds at the side of the building.
Requirement to attract funding – Newbattle church to be sold (hall to remain). Looking for suitable temporary venue for groups that currently use church halls (former Church, The Lodge, Main Street a possibility). AM asked will the new church, have certain community times for meetings and other activities? GT states “it is the community’s building and the church has to be more than a hall for hire or Sunday activity only. The current halls usage is only 13%, new building ambition 50% of time. Working with local groups to ensure maximum church use. Initial supportive discussions with HES, MC planning and local councillors. Building to remain closed until refurbishment is closed. Looking to open December 2022.GT – keen to build momentum with further masterplan to the surrounding area. GS happy to come back to later meeting and provide drawings/scans/designs to NCC when available to share. GS/GT AM felt this development was really positive, impetus into the masterplan & a catalyst for the centre of the village.
- Springfield Development
- JA/AM continued action to update page to keep it live. You can still email NCC as AM will collate comments and provide a formal response on behalf of the Community Council before 12/06/21.
- AM/JA held meeting with Mayfield/Easthouses and Gorebridge CC to discuss the mutual points & trading notes. Making sure that all three CC’s were using same methodology.
- NCC had meeting with two Springfield representatives on 18/5/21. AM mentioned what made this development unique for Springfield was the challenges of the site, different slopes and existing Industrial archaeology e.g coal seams, mining works, JA said take away points: most Springfield developments are edge of settlement. This is almost like a new village. Need to think what would help the identity of such a development?
- AM opened the discussion with comment that this is “clearly a large development” but reminded us that there are 4 separate areas earmarked by the council as designated housing in local development plan c.2010. The developers . AM was given suggestion of 100 houses over The houses could be built in a 5-7 year plan. AM suggested full planning application with actual numbers by June. On 18/05/21 it was suggested Springfield were looking at 7 pockets of houses (10 year build time with approx. 100 houses a year). 25% affordable housing throughout the 7 areas was recorded in discussion.
- Due to covid restrictions the first public consultation was on on Wednesday 28/04/21 online (second 26/05/21) . AM revisited what happened on Wednesday 28th April. Two reps talked through the proposals The two consultations are for the community to make comment which will enable developer to consider and then submit the planning application with full drawings & number of houses etc. Full details here
- AM reiterated that after consultation on 28/04/21 developer is expected to address all comments and take on board what they can do & what they cannot. The developer needs to be held to account throughout consultation and in the end have a bespoke plan, not generic that really understands local communities need. After June 12th the project will move to MC council and planning department Aug/Sep 2021.
- Clr J could not comment on Springfield development. Councillors would welcome any public email/letters of concerns or support and if sent to Clr’s J&M used in deliberations.
- JR asked about how Development Contributions were divided up (Arniston, Miller Homes site has noticeboard/plaque with details)? Clr J mentioned contacting Peter Arnsdorf (MC) regarding matter.
- AM asked question what sort of things to consider for comments? Need to be technically viable (evidence based & pertinent, not emotive); Coalescence of villages; loss of character; how has development looked at original houses; affordable housing is it 25%; developer contributions; conservation areas; desire lines; local knowledge needs to be considered and addressed; specific to area; pressure on already strained services; new roads required; connection with railway station; will it be intergenerational & mixed living development; public square, retail. Local biodiversity wildlife bats, newts and river Esk. Flooding/drainage risks are all relevant issues.
- Due to the overlap of Community Councils. JA & AM from NCC are working with and having online meetings with representatives from Mayfield & Easthouses and Gorebridge CCs. The CC’s are a consultee and will make full response gathered from the wider community. With the intention to having meaningful discussions to coordinate a collective approach moving forward.
- It has been confirmed Springfield needs to do an environmental impact assessment survey. AM on a private capacity has already written an email regarding the need for another EIA as land, tracks, wildlife and climate change on area needs considered. AM to incorporate Angus and Annie’s specific concerns into NCC formal response.
- JA has action for the joint Community Council group to write to three Councillors in ward & Council itself.
- JA informed attendees NCC is looking for a permanent Secretary.
- Newtongrange Development Trust (NDT)
- Next “The Pool” event Saturday 05/06/21. This monthly table-top session. Helps keep in-touch with vulnerable, addresses poverty issues with surplus food provided by CO-OP, Tesco, Morrisons and Tesco.
- Fiona Horne organising NDT website.
- RA to ask PC McFarlane about attendance for future ‘The Pool’ events.
- Clr. J informed NDT to get in touch regarding Environment funding for shipping container.
- 2020-21 Year Aims for NCC– On agenda for reference during wider discussion
- Protecting and improving services:
- Noticeboard – JA has been assured that Midlothian Council will help install noticeboard once made available. Keith to run power throughout. Think about how we could help with park welcome, possible “history of the park” notice.
- Welfare Park – JR mentioned that general consensus was that people are delighted with lighting going in. Still concern about prominent position of a proposed new container (football changing room facility for Dalkeith Thistle F.C youth teams) location adjacent to Abbey Lands football pitch. LA action to discuss matter with Justin Venton. Could they not upgrade existing pavilions for community use? Can Justin Venton share plans for next meeting regarding upgrade of War Memorial £16,000, ensure Linda Lawrence (British Legion) is notified. JA confirmed to JR that if trees are cut back around old tennis courts, new trees would be planted. LA asked why a blower was not regularly used by MC in the courts to remove pine needles? The ambition is to have neglected Old tennis courts/football astroturf cleaned out to enable greater use. Newtongrange PS Head Teacher Vicky Morgan agreed in principle to loaning tennis equipment over School Holidays 2021. FB stated asked if more chairs could be provided? LA to take action regarding possible reinstatement of bandstand before centenary. Money for bulb planting in park or grass verges in Autumn approx 15 people required.
- Newtongrange Park Life group held a litter pick which JR, LA & RA attended. 20+ bags of litter. Clr. Johnstone provided litter pickers and bags. Next one is Saturday 29/05/21 10AM-12PM.
- Village Voices group announced that thanks to Margaret Evans has secured £1,000 of funding for paint via the Enabling Neighbourhood & community Fund. JR action to get in touch Stuart Pratt, Community Payback Officer regarding type of paint & manpower for Welfare Park fence repaint.
- JR reiterated her safety concerns regarding zebra crossing beside Dean Tavern – Park Gates on the Main Street. Cars are just not stopping (not looking to the right). Top of Main Street also dangerous is clearer signage required? Clr J to pick up this action, along with drains in park and Main Street.
- Flytipping – Clr Johnstone mentioned getting in touch with email@example.com regarding any group tidy up in council area (e.g. waste removal van). Derek Oliver also has a good track record in stopping illegal fly-tipping,
- FB and RM Guerrilla Gardeners (GG) action to discuss planters plan and look to form relationship with Pentland Plants (Carolyn Spray)improve perennials & to get colour in the summer. The GG was warmly praised for its efforts and it is open to all and meets every Wednesday night at ‘The Pool’ 7pm. RM has made contact with Sheila and Greta.
- JA/RM to organise meeting to get ‘Todd the Snake’ incorporated into the school vicinity.
- The Newtongrange Masterplan: ensuring community development remains at its heart and engaging business and the village in its progress
- JA action to make invitation for next meeting 29/06/21 to Gareth Davies MC Masterplan developments.
- Engaging the community: positive solutions for inclusivity, village pride and achievement.
- Twin town – RA to discuss next meeting.
- Newsletter – JA shared draft of newsletter with members and looks to get published soon. RM to provide image for Guerrilla Gardeners. LA to ask Gayle Taylor to add something to newsletter. The initiative is open to all and has grown from strength to strength and meet at ‘The Pool’ every Wednesday 7pm.
- Queens Award for Voluntary Services – RA informed meeting that he had initial meeting with Lord & Vice Lieutenant of Midlothian regarding NC1 and sent them first draft of award application.
- Protecting and improving services:
- Councillor’s – Clr. J gave verbal report. RA to request word document to share with members.
All council meetings, seminars and briefings are still being done digitally and likely to remain so. Although I am not holding any formal surgeries just now people are contacting me by telephone, email, letters, Facebook or other social media and some people have knocked at my house. Possibly start to do surgeries in the libraries after summer recess. The enquiries are the usual mixture of housing enquiries, school placements and appeals, potholes, parking issues at Gladhouse and some business enquiries relating to grants.
The Council is still operating critical services and there are restrictions in place about some workers or trades people entering into homes – unless for emergencies and some other services. We are now well on the way to loosening up many restrictions in council and in the community. At Group Leaders meeting we have agreed a return to the normal cycle of meetings – and which started a few weeks ago.
I got my maintenance chemotherapy on Monday 10th May and was self-isolating last week until 17th May.
Since last community council meeting meeting the by election in Ward 5 was held and SNP successful in retaining the seat, the council is back to having 18 full councillor membership, and Cllr Stuart McKenzie is settling in well.
Full council meeting was two weeks ago and there were one or two things of particular interest.
- THE UK Levelling Up Fund. This is being distributed differently from all other funding – direct to councils bypassing SG and CoSLA. Midlothian is a Level 2 area.
- Public holiday next year for the Queens Platinum Jubilee is June.
- Building rationalisation – demolishing or repurposing all council buildings in Dalkeith and have a social housing building programme. This will also mean more people will have to work from home, we are in ongoing discussion with the Unions regarding this. A lot of staff are unhappy. Home might not always be the safe place people want it to be.
- Local Housing Strategy – in the main it is not ambitious enough to accommodate our growing population.
- Council house building programme – again it’s not ambitious enough. The council is running out of ground to build on that it owns. This means MC will have to look to buying land to build putting us in direct competition with private developers, increasing the cost per unit, etc. The council house waiting list is enormous, in excess of 4,000 people looking for a home. Includes 484 specialist housing over the next five years.
- Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan, homeless prevention fund. A way to help those at risk of losing their homes to be helped. It is a small amount of money £30k over two years.
- Roads Capital programme – further fund to redress the potholes, etc. Roads are graded and work undertaken as required – we were not given a list of roads, but if you have a query regarding a particular one let me know.
- Learning Estate Strategy – authority to Director to undertake consultations in areas of need (repair, demand, etc), for us the Gorebridge consultation will be 2023/24 to be completed by 2025. Gorebridge Community Council have arranged a meeting with the Education Director and you are welcome to attend. Moorfoot Community Council have been invited. Contact Cath McGill, Chairperson or Neil White, Secretary if you wish to attend.
The council house site at Morris Road, Newtongrange is making good progress.
Work has started on a new junction and layout at the Auld Toll and Shell Garage (A7 and B704). There will be pedestrian crossings etc. I sent the details to Ross and Jeremy last week. Cllr Muirhead and I have been pressing for this for quite some time. The work should be completed by end of June.
Newbattle Community High School is operating as the schools testing centre, and Edinburgh College at the Dalkeith as the ‘ordinary’ or symptomatic testing site, Easthouses, Newtongrange and Newbattle Church (Mayfield site) was operating as the local asymptomatic testing centre and will close this week, the new asymptomatic testing centre will be opened in Ladywood, Penicuik. Ramsay Croft, Dalkeith will be operating as a walk in testing site shortly. Gorebridge Leisure Centre opened on 18th March 2021 as a mass vaccination centre, letters continue to be sent out for confirmed appointments there. All reports I have received are that the centre is working very well and it is the Moderna vaccination that is being used. For the foreseeable future people here will receive two doses of the same vaccination. The LC will continue for some time to be used as a MVC.
We need to take special care just now as Covid numbers are on the rise. Public Health Scotland, NHS Lothian and the Council are working together to try and contain the spread and keep the numbers down.
Due to Gorebridge leisure centre being closed for its usual activity I have been working with some community groups and Cllr Muirhead to get alternatives up and running, so that the groups normally resident in the LC can have a temporary home. We have taken this forward for officers to liaise, discuss etc with private facilities and have some kind of partnership arrangement in place. We are still awaiting an update
Last meeting I mentioned there would be a bus development project to improve bus access at junctions, bus lanes, route development, linking east to west and west to east, a route into the Gyle, etc. That bid has now been submitted for the collective bid for the area – we should hear back in June.
Jim Muirhead and I have discussed how to spend our environmental funds, and are keeping up to date with one another on this to avoid duplication or to share the cost.
There are a few litter picking groups starting up and if you wish one to start here the Council Offices can provide pickers, hoops, bags from firstname.lastname@example.org and a pickup of the litter to advise email@example.com of place bags have been deposited.
Newtongrange Park Life will be meeting on Saturday at 10am till noon to do litter picking and tidying up of the park. Meet at the willow tree as usual. I’ll have bags, some hoops and a few pickers. Bring your own gloves and other gardening equipment if you have it.
Take care and stay safe and remember FACTS – the vaccine programme is going smoothly in Midlothian and a more normal life can be a real prospect in the very near future. Try and make sure you attend at the requested time or make alternative arrangements, please don’t be a DNA (did not attend).
- Treasurer – N/A *JA still has action to replace Jason Ferry & become dual authority signatory of the bank account. AM can also be third signatory The current balance is £2,720.59. Although JM informed meeting a number of payments still to come out of account £1,500. NCC to stop paying for the container.
- MFCC AM mentioned Springfield Development, Edinburgh airport re-route via Firth of Forth, Covid testing sites in Midlothian and further planning developments were highlighted.
- Planning Applications – N/A
- Councillor’s – Clr. J gave verbal report. RA to request word document to share with members.
- Correspondence – N/A
- Date of Next Meeting – Tuesday 29th June 2021 at 7.00 pm Zoom TBC – register here