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
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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

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