Last night, after my ward surgery at Blackness Primary School, I took part in the latest meeting of the West End Local Community Planning Partnership (LCPP), which allows local councillors, council officers across various departments, police, fire & rescue, NHS and local community organisations to get together to discuss West End issues. On this occasion, the City Council Chief Executive attended part of the meeting, which was a welcome development.
We were given an update about progress with the proposed new Dundee Local Development Plan from a senior officer from the council’s City Development Department. I again highlighted the issues of derelict buildings and the need to support our district shopping centres.
The LCPP meeting also had a welcome update from the Environment Department about proposed improvements in parts of the West End that include:
- Improvements to the pathway from Logie Street to the Tullideph sheltered housing.
- New hedge planting to replace the “temporary” fence at the east end of Magdalen Green. I requested the “temporary” fence on behalf of residents the best part of a decade ago, so some nicer hedging will be a welcome development.
- Scott Street entrance to Balgay Park – I have complained about its state before and was pleased to hear it will be improved and brightened up.
- Hunter Street – roundabout with Hawkhill by-pass – to be tidied, improved with new planting and birch trees.
- The old toilet block at Lochee Park will be removed and replaced with new toilets at the Lochee Park changing rooms.
I have criticised the City Council’s failure to progress a committee decision to improve parking on the University of Dundee campus edge – at Hunter Street – by simply ‘sitting on the decision’ despite committee approval to proceed.
In May 2008, the City Council approved a report to provide a replacement car park in Hunter Street at the edge of the university campus. As the Planning and Transport Convener at the time, I greatly welcomed this proposal.
The Hunter Street replacement car park proposal makes a good deal of sense. There’s a huge parking demand in the area around the university campus and building more provision here would relieve congestion in local streets in the West End. It is deeply disappointing that the council is failing to progress a committee decision or even bothering to update committee on a decision it took.
I recently asked the City Council’s Head of Transportation for an update on progress with the decision of council committee to progress a replacement Hunter Street car park. I was advised in response :
“In terms of the Hunter Street Multi Storey Car Park, there is no proposal for Hunter Street in the Capital Plan. Present parking levels in the city do not justify additional provision. We need to absorb the new Allan Street/Olympia MSCP before considering any further MSCP provision.”
In response, I pointed out:
“There was a clear commitment to go ahead with this replacement car park after Greenmarket and East Marketgait were completed. The City Engineer advised me back in 2009 it had got as far as being advertised in the European Journal and the suggestion that parking levels do not justify it flies in the face of the evidence – it is right on the campus edge.
The project to build a better larger capacity car park at Hunter Street was agreed in 2008.
Given the significant extent of “university related vehicles” parking on many streets in the West End close to the University, the proposal would provide such drivers with a parking facility very close to the campus.
As I recall, a detailed project programme was to be prepared in 2009 but the design, procurement and construction was held back pending other car parks being completed. When that happened I was given assurances that the project was not being dumped and I would be extremely unhappy if this is now the case.
To quote the Director of City Development from 2010 when the project was put back:
“In light of the downturn in the property development market and the need to evaluate the operational success of the new multi storey car park to be built at East Marketgait, we will not now progress Hunter Street until the medium term ie we will revisit the proposal after 2012.”
Improving the parking here would significantly assist overspill into West End residential streets and make it easier for students and university staff to get parked too.
I recall nothing coming to committee to rescind the original committee approval and I would suggest you can’t just dump the proposal without going back to committee.”
In response, the Director of City Development indicated :
Can I please comment as follows;
1. The marketing of this site did not deliver a viable development partner. Since then economic conditions have worsened and general parking demand has reduced across the city centre. Proceeding with a development project would not be successful at this time.
2. I would want to have at least a full year’s trading experience at the New Olympia Multi-Storey Car Park, before even considering seeking further prudential borrowing for a further MSCP in the city. I think that it would be extremely difficult to justify such expenditure at this time.
3. I have never given an assurance that this project would happen. The fact that the current approved Capital Plan 2012-16 makes no provision for such a project, reflects the level of commercial doubt over the prudence and viability of such a scheme for the foreseeable future.
We will, however, keep the situation under review should conditions improve.”
I have written back to the Director in the following terms :
“I would be grateful for detail of the evidence of lesser parking demand in the vicinity of Hunter Street. Whilst I do not doubt your statement that general parking demand in the city centre has lessened in the recent economic climate, Hunter Street would have provided better parking facilities in the vicinity of the University of Dundee Campus, where I see nothing but sustained demand and a situation that, because parking provision is less than supply, a spilling out of vehicles into on-street provision in the West End.
The department is about to consult on a residents’ parking scheme for area of the Perth Road district shopping centre and adjacent streets. This envisages only ways of rationing the existing provision but has no proposals as to extending provision and dealing with the overflow of vehicles from the campus. The Hunter Street proposal would have tackled that.
The original committee report indicated :
“4.3 An Economic Option Appraisal has been carried out to establish and analyse the Strategic Context, the Defined Need for the Project, the Objectives and Constraints and a list of options were identified. The options were examined in detail and a short list of options were subsequently costed and assessed in accordance with the Council’s Capital Budgetary Control guidance.”
Has a further option appraisal been made that gives new evidence for not proceeding?
Furthermore, as there is a “live” committee decision to proceed (12th May 2008), should not, in terms of the council’s democratic processes, you now bring back a report on the matter if the view of your department now conflicts with the council’s agreed policy position?”
As I have indicated to the Director of City Development, the council is finally about to consult on a residents’ parking scheme for area of the Perth Road district shopping centre and adjacent streets. My concern is that the council has failed to progress improved parking that would relieve the situation on local streets.
However, in addition to that, it appears that a decision made unanimously by a council committee and at the time welcomed by the now SNP Convener of City Development, has been quietly ditched with no progress but equally no update given to a council committee. It looks like a case of a decision of the council being simply “sat on” and flies in the face of the democratic processes of the council.
“The Roads Supervisor has inspected the roundabout and notes that it does look a bit neglected however the shrubs were severely pruned earlier this year to increase forward visibility for the installation of the new pedestrian crossing and there has not yet been sufficient time for the shrubs to regenerate.
The DCS Land Services supervisor for that area is planning to carry out a litter pick/weed treatment on the roundabout as part of the periodic maintenance carried out for Road Maintenance as soon as it can be arranged.”
HUNTER STREET : A resident contacted me to say that the bollard on a traffic island has been flattened by a vehicle. The Council’s City Development Department advises that,“the street lighting section have recorded this damaged bollard in their defects database and it will be repaired within the next week or so.”
GLAMIS PLACE : Following a resident complaining to me that the drainage gully here was blocked, I wrote to the City Engineer asking for this to be attended to – and he has replied – “I am advised that there is only one gully in Glamis Place. Records have been checked and the gully machine has not attended this location in the past few months. The gully has been checked on site and found to be at least partly choked with silt. As such arrangements have been made for the gully machine to attend and clear the debris.”
“The Bridge” was erected around the early 1980s in Hunter Street and was the creation of artist Ron Martin. It was based on the kind of bridge on a cello or double-bass. You can just make out the 4 notches along the top where the strings would go.
I have been asked by constituents what had happened to the sculpture and asked university secretary Jim McGeorge if there were plans to have it re-sited.
I am pleased that the University has responded positively to my request to have the sculpture re-sited. The university has proposed – at the suggestion of the curator of the Botanic Garden – that it could be placed at the Botanic Garden.
Wherever the sculpture finally ends up going, it is good that it will be back on public view, hopefully in the fairly near future.
* Blackness Court Sheltered Housing – I have been campaigning for some time to have the footpaths near to the sheltered housing improved. On Friday, along with two residents, I had a useful site visit with a City Council roads inspector who has promised to progress pavement improvements at the Rosefield Place/Blackness Road junction and at the pedestrian crossing used by the sheltered housing residents to cross Blackness Road to get to the Post Office and other local shops.
Residents have also complained that the yellow lines in Rosefield Place are worn and cars park on the pavement edge making it very difficult for elderly folk – especially those on motorised scooters – to get from their homes to the shops. I was pleased to be advised today by the City Development Department as follows : “The lines in Rosefield Place will therefore be refurbished around April/May time along with other long term outstanding orders.”
During my period as City Council Planning & Transport Convener,I brought the project to committee for approval in May 2008. This was unanimously approved and members of the then SNP opposition welcomed it.
In May 2009, a year after committee approval,I was assured by the City Engineer that the project had been advertised in the European Journal. The assessment panel had been identified and the assessments of these were being carried out. I was further advised at that time :
I am unconvinced by the reasons advanced for not progressing with the project. It is clear from the recent Tesco proposal for a new “Express” convenience store in Hawkhill that there is still commercial viability for the car park that envisaged retail facilities on the ground floor.
I am meeting the City Council’s Head of Transportation on Monday to discuss the matter and my concerns about the council’s u-turn. I am very disappointed at this turn of events and think it is vital that the Hunter Street parking project is progressed, for the benefit of easing parking difficulties in the West End.
A detailed project programme is about to be prepared but the design, procurement and construction will likely be about 2 and a half years so the car park/retail unit can be expected to be complete around December 2011/January 2012, all going well.
The new facility will provide much needed additional car parking close to the university and I hope this will relieve some of the parking problems in some West End streets.
However, it will by no means fully resolve the parking issues right across the West End. Parking consultants Buchanans were, last year, engaged to call out survey work on ways of improving parking and their report is with the City Council. It had been the intention of the previous administration to bring the outcomes of the report to committee at the end of April, but under the new administration this has yet to happen.
It is important that city councillors get the opportunity to discuss the parking issues and debate the way forward, for the benefit of residents in the five areas of Dundee the parking research was carried out in. I hope we will see progress on this matter soon.
Subjects covered include :
* Graffiti – Magdalen Green and surrounding area
* Speed Limit – western end of Perth Road
* Network Rail Mast
* West End Christmas Week De-Brief Meeting
* Ground at High Mill
* Paint on road and pavements in Thomson Street
* Former Homebase site
* Handrail Seafield Road
* Fencing at rail line
* Hawkhill by-pass at Hunter Street junction
* Tay Rope Works Planning Inquiry
The Community Council meeting takes place this Tuesday at 7pm at Logie St John’s (Cross) Church Hall.
You can download a copy of my update by going to http://www.dundee.prai.co.uk/resources/sites/126.96.36.199-4354cb46e84541.81564487/West%20End%20Ward%20-%20Various%20Resources%20Directory/West%20End%20Community%20Council%20Updates/West+End+Community+Council+Update+-+January+2009.pdf.
The roundabout is significantly overgrown and I received concerns from residents that it is difficult for pedestrians crossing the Hawkhill by-pass to see on-coming traffic.
This is a busy area, with many pedestrians crossing, particularly students and staff going to the University of Dundee and it is important that there is good visibility.
The response received from the City Council said:
“I agree that some trimming of vegetation is required especially where visibility to the south west is indeed substandard for pedestrians.”
The response also confirmed that the Council is investigating the provision of an additional pedestrian crossing to the east side of the roundabout, to be provided later in 2009.
The response continues :
“Early investigations favour placing a dual crossing to the east of the roundabout (downhill side) but at an appropriate distance from it – probably near the end of the splitter island. The detail design will be brought forward in February / March and details such as the exact location of a crossing in relation to the bus bay on the south side can then be investigated, together with more detailed cost estimates which can influence project delivery.”
Residents will welcome an additional crossing at this part of the Hawkhill by-pass given the flow of pedestrians crossing in the area. I understand it is targeted to provide this by late Summer, but this will be subject to site investigations and confirmation.
I’ve been away in Edinburgh with the “day job” today and a West End Community Council meeting this evening immediately on return, but, having just got back home, the following feedback had been e-mailed to me by the City Engineer :
“An inspection of the sea wall was carried out yesterday. There is no public safety issue with the sea wall but pointing repairs are required.
“The seawall is inspected on an annual basis and was last inspected in September 2007 as part of a wider Dundee coastal flood study. This highlighted that pointing repairs are required and these have been programmed to be carried out in the near future.“The findings of the Dundee coastal flood study are still under consideration and will be reported in due course.”
Also in today’s Courier, was the report (below) on the very positive debate at Planning & Transport Committee last night (the City Council committee I chair) on the proposed multi-storey car park and retail space at Hunter Street :
“£7m car park plan ‘will boost cultural quarter’“By Brian Allison, local government reporter“PLANS FOR a £7 million car park off Hawkhill will ease congestion in the area and help promote Dundee’s burgeoning cultural quarter, city councillors heard last night.“The planning and transport and policy and resources committees backed proposals for a 430-space multi-storey at Hunter Street which would also provide retail units at ground level and commercial development at the west end of the site.“In a report, planning and transportation director Mike Galloway said the estimated cost of the car park would be in the region of £7.35 million.“He said there was a very high and growing demand for quality parking in the Hunter Street area.“The existing surface level car park has just under 140 spaces— not sufficient to meet the demand created by the adjacent university campus, new student housing and business developments in the cultural quarter.“There is a growing need to satisfy the daytime commuter and retail parking demands as well as the growing demand arising from the vibrant evening economy,” he said.“In support of the council’s primary objective to create a thriving economy through growth of the financial, leisure and retail sectors —which will occur mainly in the city centre—there is an urgent requirement to provide a retail development site for the purposes of relocation of an existing retail outlet in order to allow the proposed extension of the Overgate centre to progress.”“Following committee approval the council will now advertise for a partnering contractor to undertake the development.“Planning and transport convener Fraser Macpherson said the project would help alleviate the considerable parking difficulties for staff and students and the public.“In response to a question from councillor Will Dawson, the convener said the department would be mindful of the need to maintain the traffic flow when the project was being constructed.
“Councillor Richard McCready said there was a need for the council to promote the use of public transport, but it must also recognise that many people would continue to use their cars.“The new car park would help address parking issues as well as promoting the vibrancy of the cultural quarter.”
The proposed multi-storey car park at Hunter Street will be a boon for the residents in the West Port area and provide parking for students and staff at the University of Dundee – which will, in turn, relieve parking problems in the West End.
The proposed footpath repairs are very welcome news for the West End and for other parts of Dundee too.
MULTI STOREY CAR PARK
A new £7m multi-storey car park with retail space on the ground floor is being proposed to serve the north west of Dundee city centre.
More than £300 000 could be spent on repairing footpaths in Dundee in the next year if councillors back the move.
NOTE : All areas of the city benefit, but here are the West End streets concerned :
· Blackness Road (south side Annfield Road to Peddie Street)
· Blackness Road (Ashbank Road to Glenagnes Road)
· Elliot Road (north side at cemetery)
· Sycamore Place (Scott Street to Logie Avenue)
· Hawkhill (north side Taits Lane to Blackness Avenue)