Thursday, 31 January 2008

6 days to go
SOOT meeting was great last night, a big thank you to all who braved the weather to come along. We discussed a lot and there is still much to do. The Canongate Community Forum alongside other community and heritage groups are putting forward a deputation next Wednesday (6th February 2008) to the Planning Committee. Can you come to the protest at 9am on that day? Here's the report that was in the Evening News today.

And here is a link to letter - Caltongate does not add up
If you have any suggestions or time to offer the Campaign please email canongatecommunityforum@yahoo.couk

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Stop The Demolitions Meeting Tonight Jan 30th 2008

7 days to go until decision day on the 6th

There is a piece in TheGuardian today "Crunch Time For Historical Old Town?"

and todays EveningNewspiece is more balanced for a change

Above is the part of the Canongate on The Royal Mile that would be scarred forever, the carpetbaggers Mountgrange would like to smash it all up, from where you see the parking meter to the right of picture right up to where you see the flag pole sticking up from the art deco building The Sailors Ark. Luckily the building to the right where Edinburgh`s original fudge shop is, dates from the late 1700`s so its safe at the moment.

Below is The Canongate Venture and its beautiful interior, which lies behind the Canongate off New St and it would be demolished to be replaced by a monster block of concrete and glass so that business people can smooze with one another in what they would call the hotels conference centre. Meanwhile the tenements and Ark building above would be a 5*hotel, where guests would be so excited that they will have slept in a room where real Edinburgh people would have lived in good quality stone built hooses.

"Gee the hospitality of these Scots never cease to amaze me, putting their folks out so we can be on The Royal Mile in luxury" said one tourist leaving the hotel in the year 2000 and oatcake. "But it does remind me of that film we saw, the one about those Highland Clearances"

We can stop this madness, get along to tonights Stop The Demolitions Meeting in Old Saint Pauls Church Hall, Jeffrey St. Doors open 7pm meeting starts 7.30pm mapanddirections

Come and see if your objection is among the thousands lodged, we will have copies of them at the meeting tonight.

This monster above is proposed for Jeffrey street as you walk towards the Royal Mile from Market St and Waverley. Just where you presently see the scene below it.

This is the view you currently see looking down Jeffrey Street when standing at the crossroads of The Royal Mile, where Jeffrey St, St Marys St, Canongate and High St Meet. This much loved and photographed view will be lost behind the proposed Malcolm Fraser landmark building above. It is meant to be like this, the views down from Calton Hill will be marred, no longer will you see the elegant curve of the Victorian Jeffrey St.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

What LIES behind Caltongate SOOT Meeting

7 days to go
Public Meeting: What LIES behind Caltongate.
Lies are being told about the canongate and Caltongate. We are in a 1984 Newspeak nightmare. They tell us demolishing council housing means improving social housing, demolishing listed buildings is sensitive to the historic area. There has been a community consultation!! All of it is lies, mistruths and confusion.
This will be the last SOOT meeting before the Planning Committee, please try and come. We need to plan what happens if the Planning Committee are fooled by Mountgrange adn their own Planning officials are minded to grant permission? What do we do? And what do we do if they refuse the planning permission for some or all of the demolitions and building? We need to put our heads together to come up with a plan.
Public Meeting is at Old St Paul's Church, Jeffrey Street at 7pm (for informal chat and cup of tea) the meeting will start at 7 pm prompt on Wednesday, 30th January 2008. We'll give an update and then we need everyone's ideas so get your thinking cap on and don't be fooled by their LIES!!!

Monday, 28 January 2008

Saving Edinburgh

9 days to go before Craltongate goes before planning committee

The Royal Mile looking down towards the Canongate by Richard Demarco.

His fears about Edinburgh losing its world Heritage Status if Caltongate was to go ahead, were aired here in a recent
HeraldArticle His views on the UNESCO designation here from2002 where he says

"As the 21st century begins, one thing is certain – Edinburgh does not need a Disneyland, a city of make-believe. Edinburgh, when seen as capital of a magical land, is the real thing; Camelot under the light of common day. "

Ron Hewitt chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce
said this today in the
TheScotsman "If we want a developing city that lives with the times, whilst caring for its citizens and workers and respecting its historical legacy, then we need to welcome organisations with the willingness and resources to invest in it." This is the same man who in this Article
" Hewitt moved house an astonishing 28 times in 30 years. " "I'd been working, waking up at 5.30am and getting home late for 30 years. I've got a family but they grew up with, much of the time, me not seeing them. I do regret that"
So this man knows all about what its like putting roots down, being involved in your local community and caring about your local environment.

Meanwhile in todays EveNews they have reported that Jim Lowrie the current planning leader of council is under investigation by the Standards Commission, see yesterdays post for more on this.

Remember come and make your voice heard at Wednesdays Stop The Demolitions Meeting in Old saint Pauls Church Hall, Jeffrey St. Doors open 7pm meeting starts 7.30pm mapanddirections

To mark Legos` 50th Birthday Allan Murray architects knocked up this Nightmare Vision called Caltongate, which if built wouldn`t even reach its 40th birthday. Spot what is real, what has been obliterated and if at all anything you can see that would stop World Heritage Status being withdrawn?

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Chair of Planning Committee Compromised

9 days to go to Planning Committee

Who is going to Chair Controversial Caltongate Committee?

Save Our Old Town Campaigners are asking who is going to chair the imminent planning committee on the 6th February. They say that as the Planning Leader Jim Lowrie is currently under investigation for remarks in an Evening News article of 11th October 2007, it is unlikely that he could be the chair. The article was one in which former Planning Leader Trevor Davies warned city chiefs they risked sending Edinburgh into years of "dereliction and decline" by appearing hostile to major developments.

Davies who famously stuck his middle finger up at carol singing campaigners in December 2006 was himself investigated by The Standards Commission, because he attended Caltongate developer’s Champagne Reception.

'City planning leader Cllr Jim Lowrie said: "I really don't feel that we are that far behind Glasgow in terms of the speed of the planning process, but the problem in Edinburgh is the number of historic buildings and the need to address heritage concerns.

"However, we don't want to fall behind and it's very important we listen to organisations like the chamber.

"We have to get big developments like Caltongate up and running as soon as we can."'

Article at this link here

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Stealing Scotland

10 days to go before planning committee votes on Caltongate

Today Save Our Old Town Campaigners went through to see our friends in Glasgow for the very successful January Reshuffle, see City Strolls below for more information. A big thank you to Bob of City Strolls for organising a great day. Bob is person who embodies what The Common Good is all about. At this point in the reclaiming of the Scottish People`s Rightful Inheritance it is important that it doesn`t get hijacked by party politics. It is everyones inheritance and you have to remember that and be selfless and always thinking of the common good , not what it can do for you on a purely personal basis and in the case of councillors and msps etc their careers and votes.

The long awaited (since the end of 2006) CommonGoodReport of Edinburgh is to go before The Finance and Resource Committee on Tuesday 29th Jan. It makes an interesting read. Think smoke and mirrors.

Read all about the sorry state of Edinburghs` Common Good - ScottishCommonsEdinburgh

Its release prompted the following press articles Heraldarticle EveNews

Here is GlasgowsSorryState

Citystrolls Fantastic website for Glasgow`s citizens and what has gone here GlasgowLost

Friday, 25 January 2008

Donald Anderson Speaks

New labour, New Money. Donald Anderson until 2006 was the Leader of the Labour run council in Edinburgh. He resigned from being the leader so he could concentrate on his ambition to be an MSP in the Scottish Parliament. Luckily the people of South Edinburgh are not totally bonkers and did not elect him. (We really should be thankful for small mercies).

Donald Anderson took his reduncancy money then set up a PR company based in the Canongate called Anderson Strategy or something as daft. It lasted only a few months before he wrapped it up to become wait for it ..................... the Director of PPS - evil PR company for Mountgrange check out what Channel 4 Dispatches had to say about them here.

The man is a total charlaton - the Labour Party, Mountgrange, Historic Scotland, the council officails and even the Edinburgh's Local paper the Evening Snooze are all in cahoots. Today's article in the Evening Snooze announces that the objectors - that's us - are defeated but doesn't even ask SOOT or anyone for a comment. Alan Roden the journalist was seen in Starbucks with Donald Anderson on Tuesday - getting the article written for him no doubt.

Well the Great Darth Anderson spoke today about the dark side's triumph

The Edinburgh Developers` News

11 days to go until Caltongate goes to planning committee

The Evening News has announced that Caltongate is to go ahead and Edinburgh is to be renamed Smurftown. Someone is jumping with joy! Guess who in the comments.

see todays PR article in the Eve News re the Report Report from Planning Officials to the members of the planning committee who are to vote on Caltongate on the 6th February.
Donald Anderson is director of the controversial PR firm PPS Group Scotland who are Mountgranges` Spindoctors. Remember he is the former NU Labour leader of the council and was pro Caltongate when in office. When he got booted out, he "set" up a pr company of his own for all of a few minutes, before going to PPS. He claims he does not deal with Caltongate, so what does he deal with we wonder? This is a can of worms that a Public Enquiry will have to open....There are lots of connections...rememember Mountgrange boss Manish Chande is chums with Historic Scotlands Malcolm Cooper, HS have not objected to Caltongate and the demolitions of listed buildings and others in a conservation area. Manish Chande was appointed by Tessa Jowell as a Commissioner of English Heritage in Sept 2003, where he is also on their Finance and Business Committees.
"Malcolm Cooper spent ten years with English Heritage before joining Historic Scotland in April last year". (2005, same year as first Caltongate Masterplan unveiled)

Come tomorrow to The Januaryreshuffle in Glasgow in The Pearce Institute, Govan on Saturday the 26th January. There will be a films, workshops and lots of other events and activities including ones for children and tasty food on offer from The Broth Mix cafe.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Go Ape at the destruction of Pollok Park

13 days to go

It's not just Edinburgh Council who are loosing it but Glasgow Council too. They invited a company to come in to develop woods at Pollok Park - which is common good land. Did an underhand consultation and now being hostile to campaigners who aren't happy. Check out Save Pollok Park website here

The campaigners claim there was 550 plus at their public meeting tonight but check out an independent view of the meeting here ,

News Flash - St James Centre is an eye sore!

12 days to go to Planning Committee

Jings, crivvens and help ma boab - a news flash that took 40 years to reach us! St James Centre is an eyesore! Poor thing hasn't even reached it's 40th birthday and so monstously condemned and put on the shelf. Modern 1970s shopping doesn't suit anymore. More hotels to be built, more arcades, more of everything really. St James Centre was seen as essential to the development of modern Edinburgh in the 70s. Up until the 60s St James Square. Leith St and Greenside was a residential and busy shopping area but they were no longer seen as modern and were deemed "slums" so were knocked down to build the "brutish" St James Centre. Will Caltongate be called that one day. Will anyone care that we tried our very best not to allow the Canongate to become a 2nd rate 21st Century St James Centre?

Add Video
Check out what St James Centre looked like before the wrecking ball here

And what guess who - yes Allan Murray is to be the architect and wants to build across the road too here

Are memories so short, are lessons never learnt? The cooncil's bammers, sorry I meant planners are recommending to pass ALL of the developers Planning Applications for Caltongate.

From the Evening News today
Replacement for St James eyesore unveiled in £850m galleria vision
IT HAS been derided as an eyesore by conservationists, shoppers and architects since it was built in 1973.
Now, the St James centre in Edinburgh has revealed proposals for an £850 million transformation in what could be come the biggest city centre development for decades. Plans unveiled yesterday include a public square, roof-top garden, two hotels, shops, luxury flats and new streets.The original building, an example of "brutalist architecture", would be demolished to make way for a three-storey, crescent-shaped arcade.The ambitious plans, which could be completed by 2015, were welcomed last night by conservationists. Moira Tasker, director of the Cockburn Association, said: "It is an opportunity to rectify the mistakes of the past and create a legacy this generation can be proud of." Sebastian Tombs , chief executive of Architecture and Design Scotland, a body set up to champion good architecture, said: "The skyline is a very important aspect in thinking about the cityscape. "Now is the time to be thinking quite boldly, asking questions and exploring all the issues."However, Dr Miles Glendinning, of Docomomo Scotland, a pressure group that fights to preserve 20th-century buildings, said the plans would be "unforgivable" and quickly become out of date. But he conceded: "There is such a consensus among civic opinion that this postwar building should go that it would be impracticable and implausible to put up a fight to save it."His comments came on the first day of an eight-week public consultation on plans by the centre's owner, developer Henderson Global Investors, to demolish the existing centre.The centrepiece of the proposed St James Quarter in the heart of the Edinburgh World Heritage Site would be a crescent-shaped, glass-roofed multi-level galleria, inspired by the 19th-century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. The arcade will sweep from fashionable Multrees Walk to the centre's current Princes Street entrance.The John Lewis store alone, of all the current 50 retail outlets, would not be demolished but the other shops could be housed within the galleria.Chris Pyne, senior portfolio manager at Henderson Global Investors, said: "This redevelopment will provide a major boost to retail in the heart of the Scottish capital. We recognise the significant public interest in the St James area, and the importance it holds for … the city."Continental-style shopping - complete with roof gardenTHE new St James Quarter could replace the existing St James shopping centre.• At the heart of the proposed development is a crescent-shaped, glass-roofed, multi-level galleria with public-access roof garden. Existing shops, except John Lewis which will stay where it is, could move there.• Three
distinctive new buildings adjoining the galleria will house cafés and restaurants on their lower floors.• A series of continental-style public squares will be included to encourage shoppers to walk through the quarter from different directions.• The venture will involve the creation of a new street from Multrees Walk to the entrance to the present shopping centre in Princes Street. The crescent shape reflects the design of streets in the New Town.• There will be two hotels, one of them five-star. The Thistle Hotel may be the second one.• There will be office suites and the potential for a number of new homes on the galleria's upper levels.• There will be a cultural hub – an independent cinema, art gallery or festival venue.• A new public square, lined with cafés, restaurants and a hotel, is proposed for the area around St Mary's Cathedral.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

World Heritage Sites at Risk

14 days to go until planning committee SaveOurOldTown

Below is the vision for Bath..its all gone a bit Caltongate!
Well its happening elsewhere, the blatent disregard for having World Heritage Status. The beautiful city of Bath is under threat of losing their status, at the hands of Property Developers
Crest Nicolson whose PR firm appears to be none other than infamous PPS who are the spindoctors for Caltongate Developers, Mountgrange see PPSClients

Read the
Icomosobjection to the Bath plans. It all sounds depressingly familiar doesn`t it? Unesco are the body responsible for World Heritage Sites. bathpreservationtrust and bathheritagewatchdog are doing their best to protect their citys` heritage.

Here its the
EdinburghWorldHeritageTrust and the CockburnAssociation along with concerned citizens.

Remember to come along to The Stop The Demolitions Meeting on Wednesday 30th January in Old Saint Pauls Church Hall, Jeffrey Street see
mapanddirections Teas, coffees, information from 7pm, meeting starts 7.30pm read about the very busy successful lastmeeting

Monday, 21 January 2008

Who's that guy?

15 days to go
Allan Murray this, Allan Murray that! Who is that guy? Well he is the architect who likes to build those big blond concrete, steel and glass structures all over town. Quite bland and a wee bit boring but meant to be modernity. He has many fingers, in many pies - check out his website here
We are not necessarily saying Allan Murray is a bad man, or a bad architect but is his design what is needed for a World Heritage site in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Well there is no evidence that he is, this is not a sensitive development but a big in yer face modern spralling development.
Make up your own mind - check out the developers Caltongate site here

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Old Town not Clone Town

16 days to go until Caltongate Plans go before Council Planning Committee on the 6th Feb `08

Will we be seeing an advertisement like this soon in the Edinburgh World Heritage Site?

After all, as Caltongate Developer has told us "Caltongate is a once in a generation opportunity" In many people`s eyes Caltongate would be something this generation would pass on with heads hanging in shame. But like the buildings in yesterday`s post it would only last a couple of generations before being knocked down and replaced.

Caltongates` main architect Allan Murray has now taken his vision of glass and concrete to Glasgow`s Merchant City see HeraldArticle. See what Architects over in Glasgow think here

Read clonetownthefightback about how communities are fighting back against this blanding of their town and cities by architects like Murray, developers like Mountgrange and councils who seem to can`t get enough of this anywhere architecture as economically they love it!

Of course getting the right PR team is crucial and you need one with a motto like Mountgrange`s choice of team to get Caltongate through...

"Call PPS if need to undertake community consultation or if you feel your scheme may run into political or community opposition." hotlinehere

See some of those who are up currently against this infamous pr outfit

JerichoBoatyardOxford Council rejected plans Dec 07, but developers have lodged an appeal



Lets continue to fight for the best for Edinburgh, come The Stop The Demolitions Meeting which is to take place on Wednesday 30th January in Old Saint Pauls Church Hall, Jeffrey Street see mapanddirections Teas, coffees, information stall from 7pm, meeting starts 7.30pm read about the very busy successful lastmeeting

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Edinburgh's Carbunkles - will Caltongate be one?

17 days to go

Edinburgh has it's fair share of concrete carbunkles here

Will the Caltongate scheme be one too? Argyle House at the West Port is to go, a monstrous building that was a concrete Le Carbouseir nightmare here. This building was only built in the 60s and 40 years later it has to go. Why? Because it is horrible, not fitting and no-one wants to work there, like many buildings of the 1960s that were built in Edinburgh with concrete replacing the traditional stone buildings they have to go!

It's worth pointing out though that the Macrae tenements were built 70 years ago, Sailor's Ark 80 years ago and the Canongate Venture over a century ago. Buildings made of stone, built to last but they don't generate profits any more so big business and the council thinks it's OK to destroy them to replace them what with? More concrete, steel and glass! here

Friday, 18 January 2008

Macrae Tenements

18 days to go

Just so people know what we are talking about - the Macrae tenements were tenements built by the city architect Ebennezer Macrae in the 1930s here - his buildings are all over Edinburgh and give Edinburgh the feel it has today, because they are common buildings they are not listed buildings. Ebenezzer Macrae was responsible for the design and building of the Corn Exchange and Slaughter Market at Chesser (next to Asda) - building Hutchison, Stenhouse, Prestonfield housing schemes - the better council housing that is more desired and nearly eighty years old. He renovated and designed many of the schools of Edinburgh - the ones that didn't get knocked down i.e. the 1960s ones.

And in the 1930s the Old Town was a very poor area with very poor housing - he was responsible for the building and design of the tenements now to be gutted, tenements in Candlemaker Row, the Cowgate, Grassmarket indeed all over the Old Town and Pleasance.

We don't want to be sentimental but Macrae's vision was for all workers, young and old to have decent housing, his buildings were built for the people not as facades for 5 * hotels.

Photos of the Macrae Tenements to be demolished and gutted can be found here

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Local Hero

19 days to go

One of Scotland's best film makers is Bill Forsyth and one of his best films is Local Hero when a business Tycoon comes to Scotland and wants to develop the beautiful countryside but the locals have a few tricks up their sleeves here. Believe it or not this film was made in 1983.

The Tollcross Community Centre are having free film nights here exploring issues about migrants, immigrants and "foreigners".

Local Hero is being shown on 4th February, two nights before the council makes its decision about Caltongate so if you want some light relief and a bit of a laugh get along to see the film - its at 18.00 and best of all it's free. And perhaps you will be inspired to get up to some high jinx to beat the developers.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Build for Old Town, not Cumbernauld

20 days to

A Stop The Demolitions Meeting is to take place on Wednesday 30th January in Old Saint Pauls, Jeffrey Street
link for map and directions

Teas, coffees, information stall from 7pm, meeting starts 7.30pm read about the very busy successful lastmeeting

This letter appears in todays Evening News.

Build for Old Town, not Cumbernauld

WITH a political decision due soon on the Caltongate plan, it is vital that councillors realise the precedent that they are deciding. There is a long queue of controversial plans piled up behind this one. Developers are waiting to see if the new administration has the political courage to assert itself on behalf of the city as Jenny Dawe has suggested it might, or if they will roll over as compliantly as the last lot to have their tummies rubbed. The main point of contention is about what development is acceptable in a World Heritage Site, or more to the point, what is a WHS for?

Popular belief has it that it is to protect a few special places, to prevent inappropriate development and to ensure that the facades and streetscape of sympathetic developments do not strike a discordant note with the overall historic ambience of the area. If WHS status cannot do this, could someone please explain what other point it has?

The developer behind the Caltongate application has chosen a lead architect who is notoriously unsympathetic to historic context for this profoundly sensitive site, an architect who is indeed celebrated for brash, modern, glass blocks. Alan Murray has predictably produced a scheme of identikit concrete and glass structures, more fitting for replacing the centre of Cumbernauld than the missing pieces of the Old Town of Edinburgh.

Had Mountgrange engaged one of several practices in Scotland specialising in conservation or heritage work, it is inconceivable that they would be confronted now with such broad and determined opposition.

In the post war years planners and councillors allowed the architects to raze acres of viable Edwardian, Victorian, Georgian and Jacobean property, built to last indefinitely with reasonable maintenance. It was replaced with unsustainable buildings using new materials and techniques. These buildings, many of which won architectural prizes at the time, now top polls for the ugliest buildings ever. Having reached the end of their brief design life 40 years on, they are now being replaced. The materials used, glass, concrete, extruded metals and hydrocarbons consumed vast amounts of energy in manufacturing and are recyclable, if at all, only at enormous expense.

Why are we locked into repeating this? Instead of single-use snapshots of architectural fashion, could we not have adaptable buildings that might have several uses over a long life? Buildings that look as though they belong in the Old Town World Heritage Site?
Ken Smillie, Jackson's Close, Edinburgh
here where you can leave your comments

Yesterday Tuesday 15th this letter was in The Evening News

Mountgrange plan is height of bad taste

HISTORIC Scotland has said it finds Mountgrange's Caltongate plans for the Old Town "generally acceptable" Does that mean they are going to object to certain aspects of the plans in particular?

I do hope so because as one of the many existing Old Town residents who will be deprived of not only our view of the Calton Hill but of a considerable amount of daylight should Mountgrange be allowed to build high, we are particularly concerned about the detrimental affect these buildings are going to have on our quality of life.

Has Historic Scotland given any consideration to the impact these buildings will have on the REAR of the Canongate . . . overlooking the proposed development?

If the interests of the existing residents are of no consequence then Historic Scotland and the other concerned bodies should pay heed to what will be on offer to the tourists in the future if these buildings are allowed to be built to the height at present proposed by Mountgrange.

More akin to downtown Dallas than Old Town Edinburgh!

This monstrosity exterminates the view from the Canongate to the Calton Hill, a concern expressed by the Church of Scotland, and likewise the view from the Lower Regent Road to the spine of the Royal Mile. This should be of particular concern to Historic Scotland.

I have expressed my concerns to Historic Scotland. I await with particular interest their reply.
Helene de Battista, Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh

here where you can leave your comments

Monday, 14 January 2008

Welcome to Hotel Caltongate

22 days to is the proposed Caltongate Hotel which is to be a French Accor, no surprise there then as Mountgrange developer Manish Chande will tell you "He was Chief Executive and co-founder of Land Securities Trillium Plc (LS Trillium), the UK’s leading total property outsourcing company"morehere

"Trillium's Millions Land 30 Accor Hotels Accor has agreed a sale and leaseback deal involving 30 of its hotels (5,000 rooms) in the UK. Land Securities Trillium (LST), part of the Land Securities Group, will pay £439 million for the mix of Ibis and Novotel properties, which Accor will operate under 12-year variable leases for a total of 84 years. LST will pay an additional £35 million over four years towards the renovation of the portfolio. Accor intends to use the agreement to create a long-term partnership with Land Securities that will allow the hotel chain to develop further in the UK. " Hospitalitynews

Last Tuesday this Article appeared entitled "Royal Mile Flats Saved as Demolition Ditched"

The Save Our Old Campaign got in touch with The Evening News saying this was misleading and untrue. But all they printed the next day was an article which didn`t state the facts yet again, but one that implied that those moany protestors will never be happy, even when the developers twist the facts and try to make out they have listened to what concerns people and heritage bodies have about this "once in a generation" Caltongate.

But today we read that at least Caltongates` major architect AllanMurray Architects has rubbished reports that an integral part of its £300 million Caltongate masterplan in Edinburgh has been scrapped. The following article appears on The Architects` Journal

"An Edinburgh Evening News report claimed that, due to pressure from several of the Scottish capital's numerous heritage bodies, plans to demolish a section of Royal Mile tenements had been shelved.However, speaking to the AJ, practice principal Allan Murray said that the scheme for developer Mountgrange was still going ahead.
'It is right that the application has been withdrawn, but it hasn't been scrapped – it has simply been replaced,' Murray said.
'There was an issue over a breakthrough that will create a link between the new public square and Waverley Station. This is now being replaced by a doubled height, covered route through.' "
Thanks Allan!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

The Common Good of Scotland

23 days to go...... Well, there is nothing to report from today`s press. So today, I will focus on The Common Good A brief introduction -

"Visit any town in Scotland and you will come across names such as Market Muir, Market Street, Muirton, Links, and Green. These all denote forms of common land such as all burghs in Scotland owned at one time. The property of the burgh was known as the common good since it was to be used for the common good of the inhabitants.

And this property still exists. It still belongs to the people and forms an important part of their cultural heritage.

It is also a significant resource for regenerating local communities. But since 1975 when Town Councils were abolished, this land has been subsumed within new local authority structures and assets that should have been carefully stewarded for the benefit of the inhabitants of the former burghs have, instead, been lost, neglected, and in many cases misappropriated.

The total reported value in the accounts of local authorities stands at just over £181 million
But given the missing assets, inaccurate accounting and lost receipts the total is probably in the region of £2 billion.

In Edinburgh, millions of pounds have gone missing and, incredibly, the former Waverley Market(now Princes Mall) in Princes Street, a common good asset worth over £40 million is leased on a 206 year lease for 1p per year!

Citizens are beginning to wake up to this hidden wealth. At the same time, communities are being empowered to take ownership and control of land and property and to fashion a more prosperous and sustainable future for themselves. However, much of this has been achieved through the allocation of money from the Lottery.

For many communities its not necessary to seek opportunities on the open market or to seek financial support from the Lottery in order to build up their asset base since common good assets already exist and could form the basis for building a multi-million property portfolio that could deliver housing, leisure and much needed community facilities."
Readfullarticle by Common Good Expert Andy Wightman

It is important to note that Common Good Assets not only includes heritable land and buildings but moveables such as paintings, books, jewellery, furniture, monuments, weaponry and fishing rights..this list is not complete

I first got involved in The Common Good when I met Common Good Expert Andy Wightman in 2005, shortly after the first Caltongate Masterplan was unveiled. Following on from this I learned that part of the proposed land sale by the council to the developers Mountgrange includes Common Good.

© Copyright: Andy Wightman

Above is East Market Street, Jeffrey St above it, with the spine of the Royal Mile visable infront of Arthurs Seat. Highlighted in red is the property on East Market Street that developers Mountgrange want to buy from the council. The building furthest to the left is The Canongate Venture, then the Former Vegetable Market (which is Common Good) and then the Market Street Arches.

When I knew this building was held on the Common Good Account of the Council, I became one of threepetitioners to The Scottish Parliament, calling on greater protection for Scotland`s Common Good.

Come and learn more and get involved in reclaiming your Common Good at at The Januaryreshuffle in Glasgow in The Pearce Institute, Govan on Saturday the 26th January.
There will be a film presenting an overview of what the Common Good is, featuring an interview with land reform activist Andy Wightman along with members of local communities involved in Common Good campaigns. There will also be a Common Good workshop along with lots of other events and activities including ones for children and tasty food on offer from The Broth Mix cafe.

If you can`t get along still get involved. Andy Wightman has produced an excellent CommonGoodGuide to get you started and you can find out more on his comprehensive website ScottishCommons

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Cleansing and Clearances o' of Canongate

24 days to go

The Evening News journalists who now get paid to cut and paste press releases from the Mountgrange spindoctors PPS here, (Director Donald Anderson, ex-leader of the Labour Council) reported earlier on in the week that "homes" were to be saved here but for those that follow the Independent Republic of the Canongate know that is nae true, (indeed we think the proper term is LYING).

What is happen about housing is this:-

18 flats on the Canongate are to be demolished, 9 of them were owned occupied but were bought by the developers are rented out by Rettie and Co. 9 of them were owned by the council as council houses, they have been owned by City of Edinburgh since they were built in the 1930s by the city architect Ebenezzer Macrae as part of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1919 here. However the council have cleared 7 of the houses. leaving them empty i.e. no rent is being taken on them despite Edinburgh housing crisis. The council have not repaired the pavements from the top of New Street down past the Sailor's Ark and Macrae Tenements because it is a "regeneration area" despite the whole of the Royal Mile being down up.

The council's and Mountgrange's proposals are to get everyone out of the flats - they are solid, stone flats with balconies and a big drying green at the back, they are houses that would last another 100 years with a little maintenance unlike the housing built in the 60s and 70s - Westburn, Pennywell, Greendykes, West Granton etc that needed to be demolished. The Macrae tenements are highly sought after council housing. The flats are on the Royal Mile and have the No 35 bus stop right outside.

The flats are to have their back taken away, their insides gutted and there will just be the facade - the facade to the hotel i.e. the 5* hotel will look like 1930s council housing but it will be 5* luxury inside - I know it is crass! There will be no HOMES - only two luxury three bedroom apartments above the arcade part at Captain Jack's Close (next to Frescoes the roll shop) will be built by the developers. Obviously these luxury apartments won't be council houses despite having a council house façade. It is all the rage in London, tower blocks in Greenwich and Hackney being turned into executive's suites.

On the Mountgrange site which was the bus depot is where the hotel will be built, offices, shops and more luxury, executive housing fuelled by underground heating from the geothermal energy that is to be funded by the Department of Trade and Industry. There is to be NO affordable or social housing on the bus depot site!!

The developers have acquired land down on Calton Road which was council land and have got grants from Communities Scotland and are to be built by Places for People here. They are not doing anything that couldn't have been done by the council or any housing association yet they are being allowed to claim that they are building their quota of social/affordable housing - but in reality it is being offset and a bit of a scam. Oh guess what - this housing won't have access to the geothermal underground source heating paid for by your taxes!!!

Developers are meant to build 25% social/affordable housing in big housing developments - but offsetting is common i.e. they get into cahoots with councils to do things that would have been done anyway in order not to follow through. What the Independent Republic of the Canongate are saying - the area down on Calton Road should be social/affordable housing anyway and there should be 25% on the bus depot site. And the Macrae tenements should be preserved as people's homes - no more neighbours having to move away.

The Canongate historically had hundreds and hundreds of families and we would like more families in the area - it's a great place for families to live in but Places for People and the developers refuse to accept that three and four bedroom housing is needed. They tell us "families don't like to live in the city centre" yet the expensive flats and town houses are to be three and four bedroom with their own private parking.

It feels like social cleansing to us - our historical neighbourhood is being gentrified - and the traditional people of the Canongate are being cleared out here.


Thursday, 10 January 2008

Homes Not Hotels

25 days to go

"we only went out for a pint of milk, now our home is a 5* Hotel!"

Campaign Poster by local artist and campaigner David Hutchison, David was one of the artists evicted from the New Street artist studios in the former bus station, by the developers for the premature demolition.

There is a piece in TheHerald today

To demolish or not to demolish

26 days to go... In The Scotsman today there is a piece stating how Historic Scotland is backing Caltongate Developers articlehere
To see Historic Scotlands Full response click on this link HSresponse then click on Associated Documents, then click on View Associated Documents, then scroll down until you see the Historic Scotland document dated 20th December 2007. Sorry but thats the only way to do it via the councils planning portal.

You can read what the Status and Role of Historic Scotland is here HistoricScotland

It is known in the conservation world that Mountgrange Developer Manish Chande and Historic Scotland`s Malcolm Cooper are friends.
Manish Chande was appointed by Tessa Jowell as a Commissioner of English Heritage. Sept 2003, where he is also on their Finance and Business Committees.
"Malcolm Cooper spent ten years with English Heritage before joining Historic Scotland in April last year". (2005, same year as first Caltongate Masterplan unveiled)


From the article
"More than its southern equivalent, its word is law. As Cooper puts it "English Heritage advises the minister, in Scotland we are the minister."

"The most glaring symbol of Cooper's deliberate change of emphasis has been Caltongate, the £200m plan proposed by English developer Mountgrange to convert part of Edinburgh's historic old town. This involves knocking a hole in part of the old tenement streetscape of the Canongate to improve access to a complex containing shops and a five start hotel.
Cooper explains that once the decision was taken to approve the masterplan for regeneration of the old town seen as vital to the city's future needs, Historic Scotland saw the importance of facilitating what it was convinced was for greater economic good of the city."

Ron Hewitt, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: "Meeting Malcolm and hearing his views has been a breath of freshair.

Manish Chande is the Chamber`s Property Policy Group Chairman
go to the June-July issue of their comment magazine see page 2 - 6 of

Todays Evening News has a good letter in response to the misleading article printed on the 8th Feb -

Threat hovers over Old Town
IT is simply not true to suggest the MacRae flats in the Canongate have been saved (News, January 8).The latest submissions by the developers Mountgrange do propose that most of the facade of the building would be retained. But the flats behind the facade would disappear to be replaced by "de luxe" hotel bedrooms. Ordinary people would still be evicted from their homes and the Old Town would lose even more of its socially mixed character and go a step further towards being a Disneyland-style stage-set.Our councillors can refuse the planning application. More fundamentally they can refuse to sell the land on the Canongate which the council owns and send Mountgrange homeward to think again.Robert Cairns, Ratcliffe Terrace, Edinburgh


Wednesday, 9 January 2008

The Battle for Edinburgh`s Heart

27 days to go....
Well I wasn`t surprised to read Todayspiece in the Evening News. I wrote to them yesterday to ask them to apologise for printing incorrect information and to do an article explaining that the "new" application still involves the full demolition of the tenements. This PR tactic by Mountgrange is to fool people into believing that they have listened to their concerns, and they have made changes. In fact they have just pulled out plan B that they probably had all along, which is just like Plan A.

This has made me think of how from day one this developer has been trying all sorts to get his way.

Here he is Caltongate Developer Manish Chande pulling a "Bravemoo" Coo through Princes Street Gardens on the 14th March 2006(
Common Good Land belonging to the folk of Edinburgh)

As the major sponsor of Edinburgh`s Cow Parade in 2006
Evenewsarticle Mountgrange had dozens of fibreglasss cows all over the city with Moungrange branded on them.

A Canongate resident wrote the following in response a few days later to the EveningNews Letter page -

Fight on his hands WHAT a laugh. Manish Chande, the chief executive of the Canongate's most hated company with a sabre under his arm pulling a braveheart coo (News, March 14). Well, he'll need his brave heart and his sabre when he comes head to head with the people of the Canongate. The Mountgrange Group wants to rip the heart out of Canongate - but we'll take our 'coo' from William Wallace et al. As long as there are a hundred of us left in the Canongate they'll no be demolishing our homes and listed buildings to build their fancy monstrosities.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

28 Days till D-Day!

Today The Evening News printed an misleading article entitled

"Royal Mile Flats saved as demolition ditched"
this is untrue as the tenements are still to be demolished. Seearticle

Their editorial isn`t much better.

Read about the controversial PPS Group the PR firm behind developers Mountgrange, pps they have appeared on Channel 4`s Dispatches Programme, The Evening Standard and Private Eye. Their director in Scotland is none other than Donald Anderson former leader of Edinburgh Council, who backed Caltongate when in office.

We are 28 days away from all the Caltongate Applications going before the City of Edinburgh Council`s Planning Committee on the 6th February. For more information on Save Our Old Town campaign do check the website as well as this blog

Monday, 7 January 2008

If it wasn`t for those pesky protestors!

Its a pity we couldn`t just flatten Edinburgh and make as much money as we can building hotels, multiplexes, luxury hen houses...its such a pain having so much history, beautiful architecture and concerned residents...basically the flavour of todays article which is a BOO HOO...plea from the Chamber of Commerce on behalf of their Property Portfolio Group manger Manish Chande the developer behind Caltongate.

Call for planning shake-up as Capital tops the protest table

Nimby - The word was first recorded in 1980, but for a British audience it was the late Nicholas Ridley, an arch Thatcher-loyalist, who brought it to wider usage, in the late 80s. As environment secretary, Ridley had no fear in appearing abrasive. He was, after all, the man in charge of the poll tax.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Here`s to 2008, the year of the NIMBY

Yesterday I read something in a newspaper which actually lifted my spirits. Someone has articulated so well the 21st century meaning of the word NIMBY...a term much loved by the multi million PR and development industry behind the needless destruction of our countryside, villages, towns, the name of progress and the elusive promise of increased wealth and status for all.

Above is former Council planning leader Trevor Davies who clearly did not like NIMBIES like the SOOT campaigners who sang carols when he entered the Caltongate Developer Mountgrange`s Christmas Champagne Bash in 2006.

This blog will be updated everyday where possible, with current news in the run up to the important date the 6th of February when all the Caltongate applications go before the City Of Edinburgh Council`s Planning Committee.

Nimbyism should be applauded, not despised
Published: 04 January 2008 The Independent by Terence Blacker:

from the article -

"There are certain well-used contemporary clichés which are more than lazy verbal shortcuts. They represent clichés of the mind and the heart. Substitutes for thought, they are weapons used by the spin-merchants of commerce and politics. They simplify complexity and smother debate.

A perfect example lies in that brutally neat little word, "nimby".

"Perhaps it is time to look beyond the cliché and ask, in the manner of the old Persil ads: what is a nimby?

The truth is that the values a nimby defends were, until very recently, those which most environmentally-minded people would support. The nimby believes that to contribute to a better world a person should start with the one area over which he or she can have some influence: the local community and landscape."

"Action in a person's own area is rarely glamorous – it involves work and application – but, the nimby believes, it is worth more than any number of warm words about the state of Planet Earth."

"The nimby protects the small against the big. Those with a threatened "back yard" (a sneering phrase which can be used to describe most of Britain) will know just how powerful the outside forces of profit, politics and populism now are."

"When big business and big politics are trying to discredit anyone impertinent enough to question their motives, there are more crooked clichés."

"Opposition, it is said, comes from "a vocal minority of local people". "

"Any planning department that dares to question whether an area should be transformed is described as "sluggish" or "clogged up". "

"In the face of this prejudice and propaganda, it takes courage to be a nimby."

"In the meantime, anyone brave enough to speak up for them around the country deserves gratitude not sneers. The nimby is one of the unsung heroes of these very odd times."

Read Full Article Here