This was the latest in a series of events co-hosted by Marchmont & Sciennes Community Council (MSCC) to allow local residents to contribute. Daniel Johnson MSP and a couple of local City Councillors also attended. So did Sciennes Parent Council and a representative of James Gillespie's High School Pupil Voice. The event was facilitated and managed by Grant Myles of People Assets, an experienced event facilitator who has worked with NHS Lothian before, on masterplanning.
The meeting opened with a quick update on the proposed timescales for the sale of the site by NHS Lothian, as they prepare to move children's healthcare facilities in 2018 to the Royal Infirmary site at Little France. The site will be advertised for sale within the next week and offers will be invited from prospective developers by February 2017. These offers will be considered from a financial perspective, and proposals will also be independently assessed against a 'pre-application position statement' being prepared by NHS Lothian's planning advisors (GVA) for NHS Lothian.
The aim of the event was to generate community views and ideas for inclusion by GVA in that 'position statement'. Alongside components in the 'position statement' about i] formal planning constraints and ii] heritage considerations (listed buildings, conservation area etc) the collected community views will support NHS Lothian's identification of the scheme that represents 'best value' and lead to an agreement to sell by Easter 2017.
The event continued with an opportunity for each individual attendee to write down ideas and views on post-it notes. These ideas were then arranged under five headings: Uses; Buildings; Movement; Spaces, and Next Steps. Participants then moved around the room reviewing each others' ideas and adding to them. The emerging commonalities under each theme were then summarised by groups of participants onto flipcharts and reported back in turn to everyone present.
The meeting closed with a discussion of how all the information gathered will be used (by NHS Lothian in selecting a developer, and potentially by developers), and how participants at the workshop can continue to contribute to the consultation process and stay informed (about the sale, and proposed site designs). All the flipcharts and post-its will be retained and all the contributions will be included in a full report of the meeting. The report will be available by mid December and will be publicly available for review and comment, including at the MSCC Infoblog. This is the report that will contribute to the community views section of the GVA 'position statement' for NHS Lothian.
Once a developer is selected there will be further community engagement, including through the statutory 'pre-application notice' process that must precede submission of a major planning application. MSCC will be working to promote as much on-going additional community involvement as possible.
Thanks to Grant Myles who facilitated and to GVA (planning advisors) and NHS Lothian who partnered with MSCC to organise the event.