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Speakers - ICS. Save Otago Lane Campaign Iain Steel Chair of the Otago Lane Community Association (OLCA) Lifetime resident of the West End (Otago Lane for over 15-years) Martin Fell Proprietor of Tchai-Ovna House of Tea Business established in Otago Lane for over 10-years Tom Johnstone

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Speakers - ICS

  • Save Otago Lane Campaign
  • Iain Steel
    • Chair of the Otago Lane Community Association (OLCA)
    • Lifetime resident of the West End (Otago Lane for over 15-years)
  • Martin Fell
    • Proprietor of Tchai-Ovna House of Tea
    • Business established in Otago Lane for over 10-years
  • Tom Johnstone
    • Resident of Woodlands area for over 30-years
    • Secretary of Woodlands and Park Community Council
  • None of us are experts, just pissed-off at developers...

Why are we here? - ICS

  • Otago Lane development
  • Relationship with the land
    • History
    • Current community
  • Environment
  • Culture
  • Threat of Development
  • Process of objection
  • Planning Policy
  • 13 Daft Arguments (by the developer)
  • Beginners guide to Planning Objections
  • What’s Next?
  • Q&A

History - ICS

  • Anecdotal evidence of an early ford of River Kelvin from Otago Lane
  • Original line of old road still represented by ‘kink’ in the cobbles on the lane
  • The whole area was later extensively mined
  • Earliest records recording usage of the site date from mid-1820’s
  • Otago Lane started life as Ashfield Lane with a stables block on the site of the current mews buildings
  • Many features of original stables can be viewed from inside the Tchai-ovna
  • Changed when Smith Street became Otago Street in 1930’s
  • One of the oldest remaining buildingsin the area
  • On the river bank riding school for Glasgow Omnibus built late 1800’s
  • Current block faced workshops and garage for Hubbards bakery.

Current Community – ICS

  • Home to 6 residents in 5 cottage flats around a central courtyard
  • Glasgow’s historic lanes are special places – quiet, alternativesto main street businesses – Dowanside Lane, Ruthven Lane, Hidden Lane and (of course!)Otago Lane.
  • Lane supports established employment for over 30 people
  • Shopping with an emphasis on sustainability
  • “Restore, re-use and recycle...”
    • Voltaire and Rousseau (est. 1972)
    • Kenneth ChappelleClock Restorer (est. 1981)
    • Restore-it... beautifully! (est. 1990)
    • Mixed-up Records (est. 1997)
    • Tchai-ovna: House of Tea (est. 2000)
  • Locally based & locally sized centre of culture
  • Community garden - outdoor space in urban environment

Environment: River Kelvin and Green Corridor - MF

  • River Kelvin (on the east boundary of the lane) is a Green Corridor - City Plan 1 (2002).
  • Wildlife includes: otters, bats, rabbits, water vole, grey heron, grey squirrel, magpie, cormorant, blue tit, great tit, chaffinch, wren, snipe, greater spotted woodpecker, blackbird, redwing, carrion crow, kingfisher, dipper, mallard, goosander, roe deer, red fox, mink and brown rat.
  • It is used by moths and other useful insects.
  • Successive attempts at improving the quality of the water have been rewarded by the return of many fish species such as; salmon, brown trout, lampreys, European eels, 3-spined stickleback and minnow.
  • The development proposal puts at threat the River Kelvin green corridor:
    • River Kelvin is already recognised by SEPA as being ‘problematic’ for pollution
    • Already disturbed by the Unite Building
    • Sewage and drainage currently operating over capacity.
    • Sewage overflow for an additional 100 houses would run into the River Kelvin during periods of heavy rain.

Environment: Community Garden - MF

  • Tchai-Ovna shop meets the environment of green corridor
  • Described as an ‘Architecturally Innovative Establishment’ by Glasgow City Council in 2001 for its integration into the surrounding environment
  • Tchai-Ovna and helpers first started gardening upper slopes next to veranda in 2000
  • Neighbouring fly tipping site behind 16 Gibson Street gradually cleared and made into a community garden in 2001
  • Originally gardened to the banks of the River Kelvin – guerilla gardening
      • Hogweed gradually removed, outdoors venue
  • Now gardened by volunteers for free tea, coordinated through ‘little yellow book’
  • Tchai-Ovna’s community garden has become the front line of the conflict between big business and living in harmony with the environment

Culture: Music - MF

  • Tchai-Ovna:
    • One of the Top 10 music venues in Scotland (Guardian newspaper)
    • ‘Belle and Sebastian’ photographed their album cover
    • ‘Scatter’ with musicians from ‘Franz Ferdinand’ performed regularly
    • Experimental acts (Afghan Sufi musicians on BBC tour (May 2009)
    • Mixed-up Records:
    • One of the few independent record shops left in Glasgow
    • Small shop, with big reputation amongst DJ community and music collectors
        • De la Sol, J5 and Boom Monk Ben
    • Singers / Songwriters:
    • Shuna Scott Sendall, award-wining opera singer – resident of lane
    • Clark Shearer, singer / songwriter – resident of lane
    • Staff from Tchai-Ovna and Mixed-Up Records
    • Gibson Street Gala :
    • Otago Lane now an integral part of Gibson Street Gala
    • Tchai-Ovna key organiser of Tenement fair for over 4 years

Culture: Artisans, Art & Literature - MF

  • Artisans:
    • Ken Chappelle is the only specialist clock restorer in Scotland
    • Furniture restoration by Restore-it
    • Recent history of the Lane includes a model maker, auction house and Blacksmith
    • Art, Reading and Literature:
      • Tchai-Ovna: regular poetry performances and readings and an art exhibition space
      • Residents and workers within Otago Lane are active bloggers and writers (inc. Iain Steel, Ken Shand)
    • Voltaire & Rousseau:
      • Frequented by much of the Glasgow literary scene
      • Patrons include; Neil Gaiman, Barry Humphries, Rev. Ian Paisley, Alasdair Gray, Richard Booth of Hay on Wye book festival

Threat of Development - ICS

  • Special places, like Otago Lane, are being eroded through continued large-scale development – despite planning policies designed to protect them (RES 6)
  • 11/2008: Developer, Hugh Scott, bought different plots of land in Otago Lane and the flatted (rental) properties of 65-77 Otago Street
  • 03/2009: Developer invited some shopowners to meet architect and view plans for a housing development along the river
  • 07/2009 Application for large development lodged with council
    • 163 dwellings and 6 commercial properties
    • 5 blocks, including 1 of social housing
    • More than 120 new dwellings accessed via Otago Lane
    • Buildings of up to 9-storeys high
    • Completely different in scale and character to original plans viewed

Threat of Development - ICS

  • Otago Lane Community Association formed
  • Plans declared invalid due to the purchase by the community of the company name in which the application was lodged
    • The developer had neglected to register the company. Oops...
    • Note the importance of front company of large developments.
    • Close company after build to remove responsibility following completion of the development
    • Problem of non-compliance to any conditions imposed by council
  • 09/2009: Adoption of City Plan 2 by Glasgow City Council
  • 09/2009: Contact made with community councils and local politicians
  • 09/2009: First cross party, inter-community meeting, co-ordinated community response

Threat of Development - ICS

  • Threatening anti-campaign (smear) letters distributed by someone associated with the developer.
    • Threatening to the traders within the Lane
    • Accusing politicians helping with the campaign of corruption
  • Series of community consultation meetings held between OLCA, Streets UK and ID Partnership architects.
    • Series of admissions made on legal Dictaphone recording
    • Stated that DRS had advised the developer that plans would be accepted despite and with the knowledge that they were against the City planning policy.
  • Regular coordination meetings throughout consultation period to compare reactions to plan from other consulted parties
  • 02/2010: Demo held meant to coincide with final submissions to DRS by developer. All political parties represented and 200 people attended. Media attention from press
  • 05/2010: New application submitted

Objections - ICS

  • Why does Otago Lane need to be saved?
  • We love it's bohemian uniqueness - a tranquil gem in the hustle of the West End
  • There are a long list of objections as to why we believe this proposal is a very bad idea:
    • Loss of light or overshadowing
    • Visual amenity
    • Adequacy of parking
    • Safety
    • Traffic generation
    • Loss of trees
    • Effect on conservation area
    • Layout and density of building
    • Design, appearance and materials
    • Landscaping
    • Road access
    • Proposals in the Development Plan
    • Prevention of crime and disorder
    • Against City Plan Policy Principles

Process of Objecting - ICS

  • You need to spend time, energy and (potentially) money
  • You need to learn quickly about complex issues – planning regulations, etc.
  • There appears to be a general presumption in favour of development
  • There is a statutory obligation for community consultation:
    • Intended to encourage dialogue between communities and developers...
    •, in fact, used by developers to make sure they know the objections they need to counter.
    • There is no obligation on the developer to act upon any concerns, only to undertake consultation.
  • Be prepared for dirty tricks:
    • Misrepresentation of facts (heights of buildings, skewed perspectives, cut-off images, etc)
    • Smear campaign
  • Be prepared to stoop to dirty tricks yourself:
    • We registered the company name the application was registered in before the developer 
  • It’s hellish...!

Planning Policy - TJ

  • It is ridiculous to expect individuals to have to read long boring planning documents – and pretend to be lawyers – just to protect their environment.
  • You would expect the Planning Department to do this for the benefit of the communities they work for.
  • The Council has planning policies (City Plan 2) which have already had input from public consultation
  • ‘Have Your Say’ leaflet published by Council to assist objectors
  • Only 'material considerations' will have any effect – examples given are:
    • Contrary to the Development Plan (i.e. City Plan 2)
    • Appearance (design, materials, scale, massing, etc)
    • Traffic, parking and access problems

Planning Policy - TJ

  • Residential amenity (noise, overshadowing, overlooking, developing too much garden space)
  • Effect on Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas
  • Much better to identify specific policies in City Plan 2 and explain with supporting argument why the proposal breaches them
  • In the case of Otago Lane the most important policies are RES 6 and DEV 11
  • RES 6 limits the height of new residential development in lanes to 2 storeys, the developer is proposing up to 8

Planning Policy - TJ

  • DEV 11 protects environmentally important areas, such as the Green Corridor formed by the banks of the River Kelvin
  • How are applications decided? What happens to objections?
  • Officer's report to Planning Applications Committee made up of up to 18 councillors
  • Reports on contentious proposals usually nonsense (written backwards, conclusion first, full of unsupported assertions)

Planning Policy - TJ

  • In the past, councillors from majority political party have tended to vote together in support of officer's recommendation as if whipped
    • (e.g. Go Ape in Pollok Park)
  • Since introduction of PR this is less true
    • (e.g. 341 Great Western Road)
  • But history of officer attempts to disapply RES 6
    • (Queensborough Gardens 2004)
  • And environmental policies tend not to be taken seriously
    • (new Primary School extending into Kelvingrove Park)

Planning Policy - TJ

  • RES 6 is a policy which could help to control developers' excesses in the West End and Otago Lane may be a tipping point for insisting that it be taken seriously
  • Months ago, planners reported on a series of development proposals in Hillhead Ward, including Otago Lane, to the Area Committee composed of councillors and community representatives in terms which indicated that these developments were going to be approved – the Committee objected and that fight continues

Planning Policy - TJ

  • In the course of the statutory consultation, many false arguments have been given by the developer for RES 6 not applying (13 of these refuted in Woodlands and Park Community Council's objection)
  • Only developer has any right of appeal, not the objectors
  • Objectors can only rely on complaining to the Ombudsman (slow, unlikely to be effective) or Judicial Review (fast but very expensive)
  • Decision not to require an EIA may be referred to Scottish Ministers.

13 Daft Arguments - TJ

“Other policies conflict with RES 6”.When asked which part of which policy he was referring to, the applicant’s agent could give no answer.

“Only one side of the lane is left”.The definition of lane in the Policy does not require the lane to have two sides. Some lanes have only ever had one side and are still regarded as lanes by the planning authority.

“The erection of a ‘civic frontage’ to the river requires something larger/taller at the east end of the lane”.A ‘civic frontage’ at the end of the lane would be a further breach of RES 6, whose aim is to ensure that development does not result in overdevelopment and that residential amenity for existing and future residents is of a high quality. There are no policies which refer to ‘civic frontages’


13 Daft Arguments - TJ

“The majority of the lane is an adopted ‘road’”This no more than a trivial and unremarkable consequence of the word ‘lane’ not appearing anywhere in the Roads (Scotland) Act. To suggest that the adoption of a lane under this Act transforms it into a road, or has any effect at all on its continuing to be a lane, is ludicrous.

“A number of properties have frontages to the lane”So far as we are aware, most, if not all, lanes with mews properties in them have frontages to the lane; that is where their front doors usually are.

“The lane is not directly located to the rear of properties”.Although the lane may have been laid out and built upon before the properties in Gibson Street were constructed, it is quite obviously now behind them.


13 Daft Arguments - TJ

“Existing planning consents already granted and still ‘live’ were for buildings higher than 2 storeys on this side of the lane”.It is at least equally likely that neither of the existing planning consents may now be ‘live’, and need not be taken into account.

“The lane has a long history of accommodating ‘large’ scale buildings in the form of Hubbard’s Bakery and a garage; these buildings being around 4 storeys or thereby”.The lane does not have any history of accommodating 4 storey buildings. The Director of Planning knew this in 1988 and 1997 when his reports to Committee referred to 2 and 3 storey buildings on the southern part of the site. The applicant’s own documents contain maps showing that the buildings north of Otago Lane were separate from Hubbard’s Bakery and drawings from 1952 establish that the elevation to Otago Lane of what was a garage and repair shop was nowhere above 3 storeys high and less than 44 metres in total from end to end. The proposed elevation to the Lane presents a frontage 59 metres broad and 4 to 8 storeys in height, the highest points being at the ends.


13 Daft Arguments - TJ

“The existing buildings were demolished to make way for the 1988 Beechwood Homes consent, which would have ‘replaced’ them with another 5 storey building in the lane. The 1988 consent was considered under the West End Local Plan, which offered similar protection to ‘back lanes’ as the current City Plan 2; it is therefore reasonable to consider that the planning position here would be consistent in supporting a further application for building in the lane of similar height. Accordingly it is not that RES 6 does or indeed does not apply to the site, but more of a consideration of the historic context of the site, i.e. the site has always had large buildings on it, therefore these are appropriate for this location”.The planning authority should not allow itself to be held to ransom on account of an earlier decision which may no longer be capable of implementation. It is, however, under a statutory obligation to determine any given application by reference to the current development plan, which is City Plan 2.


13 Daft Arguments - TJ

“A lane is generally to the rear of a property and subservient to the urban context and block which forms it”.We agree that a lane should be subservient to the urban context and block which forms it. It is consequently incongruous for the applicant to seek to mark the corner formed by this lane and Otago Street with a prominent tower.

“The historical disposition, scale and massing of built form is to be considered to ensure that character of the space is maintained. In the case of Otago Lane this historical position is one of large scale commercial premises covering the site for over 100 years”.Although the historical position of the site may have been one of large scale commercial premises covering the site for about 100 years, in terms of floor area, this is not the case in terms of the height of the buildings immediately north of Otago Lane. None of these were above 3 storeys.


13 Daft Arguments - TJ

“Otago Lane does not accurately fall into this category; as it is a ‘wide’ back lane whose surrounding site has predominantly been inhabited”.‘Wide’ back lanes are not exempt from compliance with RES 6. There are lanes in the City both wider and narrower than Otago Lane without it being possible to infer anything from that.What does the “surrounding site has predominantly been inhabited” mean? This would be equally true of any lane with nearby houses. However, most of the development site itself has not until recently had any houses on it. Up to immediately prior to the construction of the 1997 ‘Beazer’ block, there were none. Maybe “inhabited” really means “built upon” or “developed”, but that still leaves nothing to distinguish Otago Lane from other lanes when it comes to the relevance of RES 6 for new residential development.


13 Daft Arguments - TJ

“The purpose of this policy (City Plan 2 RES 6), when considering a Conservation Area, is to ensure that due regard is given to the historic context of the proposed development. …”This is nonsense; the aim of RES 6 is to “ensure that development in lanes and gardens does not result in overdevelopment and that residential amenity for existing and future residents is of a high quality.” Massive overdevelopment and deterioration in residential amenity would result from what is now being proposed. Overdevelopment is a ‘material consideration’ and has very recently been given as a reason for refusal of permission for a mixed development at 341 Great Western Road which would have resulted in far less overdevelopment than that now being proposed for Otago Lane.


Beginners Guide to Planning Objections - ICS

  • Build support from the public:
    • Social media: Facebook Group and Fan Pages
    • Petition
    • Website
  • Build awareness:
    • Engage the media - send out press releases
    • Contact politicians, local councillors
    • Posters and flyers in public
    • Contact councillors on the planning applications committee
  • Make it easy for people to object:
    • Provide information / resources
    • Provide several different form letters
    • Take space at ‘events’ with blank forms to be collected

Beginners Guide to Planning Objections - ICS

  • Build understanding of the system:
    • Investigation into planning law, history and environmental issues
    • Engage experts & interested parties
    • Identify different processes to oppose bad development
    • Investigate legislation
  • Don’t do it alone:
    • Help from Community Councils
    • Volunteers
    • Photocopying
    • Press
    • Politicians
    • Donations

What’s next - ICS

  • We don’t know when the decision will be made…
  • We don’t know whether it will be in our favour…
  • What can we do in the meantime?
    • Keep the momentum going
    • Keep it in the public eye
    • Conservation Area Appraisal – underway...
    • Direct action – if necessary (threat!)
    • Lobbying
    • Don’t lose heart
    • Enjoy what you have…
    • ...and don’t forget what you are fighting for...!

Q & A

Any questions?