The notes for the meeting are here
What to do with the toilet block?
Our survey of local preferences, over a 1-month period and closing on the 16th Sept, was advertised widely – on 200 flyers in shops, on the toilet block itself, at our public events to around 200 people, on Facebook and on our website. It drew 74 responses.
83% were in favour of leasing it commercially as a cafe with toilet attached. 15% said to demolish it.
We believe that this high level of support indicates we should work with the Council to market this dilapidated property.
Given the enormous challenges and expense of refurbishment, with a building at permanent risk of future flooding, we propose the Council leases it on terms akin to those that were originally offered to FoRP, at a peppercorn rent of £1 a year for 25 years, with the permission to sub-let.
This proposal will require Council Committee approval, but we would like to get the ball rolling on this, so are discussing the way forward with the Estates team.
Another great bake-off! Thanks so much to all the brilliant volunteers and bakers. We made £160 profit today; maybe we only got 100 folk instead of the usual 200 and 9 cakes instead of the 30 we got last time because the school had a bake-off on Friday to say goodbye to the Head.. But the Friends made some lovely new friends!
We were helped by the FoRP Committee, Patricia Simpson, Laura Howarth, Declan Egar, Jane Stevenson, Lynne Schyma and James Kinnear, Scott Douglas, Mary McHugh, George Randall and PC Sam Davison (+ colleague) who was doing free Bike ID stamps. And Michelle from Fallen Tree Workshop in Perth who did hot drinks. Roseburn Primary School, Murrayfield DAFs and Murrayfield Wanderers helped by loaning us kit. Judges were Nic from Buna and Brendan from Fishers. Ritchie Fraser from Edinburgh Council helped us get the grass white-lined for races.
Prizes for cakes and the raffle came from Roseburn traders: House of Hound, Thallon Soullis, Art et Facts, Roseburn Café, Simon Smith Collectibles, Roseburn Bar, Brendan Haddock, Roseburn Shoe Repairs, Tescos, Eat’n’Joy, Buna, Delta Takeaway, Cafe Colpamia, Right Medicine, Ice Rink; Murrayfield Indoor Bowling, Vigo’s
Do we ask the Council to lease it commercially and get it as a café (with a toilet for public use), or do we ask them to demolish it? Voting closed on the 16th Sept. There were 74 responses; 83% in favour of a commercial let and 15% in favour of demolition. We have passed this info onto the Council.
The toilet block is a headache. We’ve been working on plans for this for 6 years now. Our members survey of 2016 (see the results here) showed that converting it to a café was clearly the most popular of all the improvements proposed, scoring 89% in favour. We then secured agreement from the Council that we could lease it at a peppercorn rent and then sub-let it to a commercial operator – we had no interest in running the café ourselves. We were funded to get planning permission, plans dawn up and prices in. There were but two agencies who were even prepared to consider funding the work through landfill tax monies, but competition was huge. The Lottery was out, because we wanted to sublet the building. We discovered that it would be very hard to raise the £70,000 we’d need. The 9 builders who indicated an interest in bidding – most met with our architect, then chose not to give us quotes. After a year of chasing. We had but 2 quotes, but couldn’t even submit an application until we got the 3rd. Prices were £62,000 and £77,000 – double what we’d originally estimated.
Needless to say, throughout this period the toilet block has continued to fall into greater disrepair, with harling falling off, timber rotting (there is a water leak inside) and trees growing out of the roof.
FoRP were reaching the stage of believing they would have to give up, when a resident approached us, indicating he would be interested in taking on the project. He and his partner indicated they would put in some capital and get a bank loan for the rest. We are keen for him (or another businessperson) to take over the toilet block and make it into a café.
We believe there is so much risk involved in the building that builders and funders are really not that interested. The building is in such poor condition that builders are unable to see exactly the condition of the walls and roof without carrying out the work; giving a fixed price in such circumstances is clearly a risk most builders were unwilling to take. The very high competition for scarce landfill tax monies mean that an application of this nature stands a low chance of success, since most grants go to play facilities and amenities currently in use (the toilet block is in a flood plain, also).
We therefore felt it necessary to draw this project to a close and notified the Council we have withdrawn our interest in leasing the property. We’d now like to persuade the Council to lease it commercially on a 25 -year lease at a low rent.
There are examples of disused Council buildings on park land that had been refurbished by commercial operators. The Gardeners Cottage café in London Road Gardens is a good example of what we aspire to. The Lodge Coffee House in Braid Park is another. The Council, due to austerity cuts, has no money to refurbish the building and that situation will continue for the next few years, at least. We doubt we shall ever see them ploughing £70,000 into it.
We asked Andy Wightman, Lothian MSP and noted authority on land ownership who has championed the protection of public land, what he thought of our proposal. His comment was “I don’t have strong views – it’s up to local community & council. Seems a reasonable proposition to me.” Local Councillors Frank Ross and Gillian Gloyer are in favour too. Fields in Trust had no problem with a commercial let.
We shall now work with the Council to have it let commercially, on a peppercorn rent with a long lease and the possibility to sublet, similar to the terms FoRP were offered.
After much waiting, we have received the following from the City Council:
The trial of the white lines and sight lines in the centre of the park is over, and now you can say what you think in the latest phase of the consultation here:
The Council Officers said to use that they had no specific plans to extend the white lines over the whole of the route in the park (at present they are just on the approaches to the centre). But if you have views about that possibility we suggest you air them.
There is also a bit of intro which you can check it out here: Roseburn_Park_Trial_Consultation_Summary_Sheet.
Edinburgh Rugby (the professional club) have submitted a planning application for a 7,800 capacity stadium on Murrayfield’s back pitches.
The relationship between this development and the ejection of Murrayfield Wanderers (the non-professional club) from Murrayfield is unclear. Murrayfield Wanderers are controversially interested in relocating to Roseburn Park.
For those wondering about the new play park… a contractor has been appointed and they are expected to start in May and end in July (though last time was said something similar it was start in March and end in May)…