Friday, 29 February 2008

Questions That Demand Answers

After yesterdays misleading article, The Evening News has at least printed part of the other side, which isn`t fuelled by Mountgrange`s PR machine headed by former council leader Donald Anderson Calls continue for Caltongate public inquiry

But here are some of the questions that need to be raised and which could be answered at an Inquiry What You Can Do Here

1. Complaints have been made to both the Competition DG and the Internal market DG of the EU Commission, because of the extent that Mountgrange Caltongate Ltd may have been provided with privileged access and offered exclusive consideration in pursuance of its commercial objectives, it follows that competing bidders, both actual and potential, have been unlawfully discriminated against, and public resources unlawfully exposed to risk in this case. Caltongate Given A Black Mark

2. A clear breach of Article 7 of the applicable code of conduct as set by the Standards Commission (Scotland) in the case of Planning Committee convenor Jim Lowrie.
The code states that a breach has been committed where a planning committee member expresses a prior public view ahead of a decision being taken, or where a member has lobbied, either overtly or covertly, for a particular interest group or to the commercial benefit of a particular applicant. In Article 11th Oct 07 it says

“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."

Given the views expressed by Councillor Lowrie in the Edinburgh Evening News of 11th October 2007 there was clear evidence of such a breach in the public domain, and in the circumstances the convenor should have been removed from his office with immediate effect.

The Council’s failure to apply article 7 of the code in this instance would appear to call into question the validity of the vote and subsequent award of the planning consent to Mountgrange Caltongate Ltd, and should be reviewed as a matter of urgency.

The economic relationship between the council and the developer in this case has the characteristics of an institutionalised public-private partnership.

3. The recent report in The Times about Mountgrange`s donation to the Labour Party,
Mountgrange donate to Labour Party

which questions the fact that the Department of Trade and Industry, when it was being headed by the present Chancellor, Alistair Darling, assisted with the funding for an investigation into the project’s proposed heating system.

4. The statements of Historic Scotland chief inspector, Malcolm Cooper given his relationship with Mountgrange’s Mr Manish Chande Historic Scotland and Caltongate

5. The actions of Donald Anderson during his period as council leader should also be scrutinised, given his individual relationship with Mountgrange’s Mr Manish Chande.
Champagne Donation Under Fire

6. The very real prospect of the loss of World Heritage status for the city, see Dresden’s recent experience, arising from a proposal to build a bridge over the River Elbe.
More Here

7. And a question that so many people are asking - why is it that one architect, Allan Murray, seems to be involved with virtually every key project within the World Heritage Site, as well as Caltongate?
Caltongate or Edinburgh Must Die

8. The pro-active role of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce in promoting the development
Mountgrange`s Manish Chande is head of their property portfolio group see page 4 of their magazine
Chambers Magazine and in Evening News Today Ron Hewitt of Chambers Roots For Caltongate

Each daily blog we will try to highlight a campaign or two locally or nationally..

Todays campaign has my 5 year old son`s favourite car mad Jeremy Clarkson supporting the campaign to stop a demolition in Devon Brunel Builing Totnes

Where are the big names for Edinburgh when she needs them?

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Liar, Liar

Misleading Article Here

"while campaigners also said they were pleased with the changes. "

No one that we are aware of was contacted by Alan Roden the "journalist" No one has seen the "revised plans" and if they really think that people will believe that 5 council homes will form part of a five star hotel, then they have really underestimated the intelligence of the Edinburgh people and everyone else who can see through all this propoganda.

See How to Stop The Wrecking Ball on what you can do to stop this madness

Save Our Old Town Campaign

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Historic Scotland and Caltongate

The following is from a piece Cooper Has modern Take on Scottish Heritage

"CAN Scottish business learn to love Historic Scotland? Malcolm Cooper, chief inspector of the Scottish Executive's powerful heritage body, might not aspire to love exactly, but he wants developers and wealth creators to know that he is on their side."
It is know in the conservation world that Manish Chande, Chief Executive of Caltongate Developers Mountgrange, is good friends with Malcolm Cooper.

"As Cooper puts it "English Heritage advises the minister, in Scotland we are the minister." "

Historic Scotland Website

It says "Historic Scotland is an Agency within the Scottish Government and is directly responsible to Scottish Ministers for safeguarding the nation's historic environment, and promoting its understanding and enjoyment.
All functions performed by the Agency are carried out on behalf of Scottish Ministers. It is headed by a Chief Executive who is responsible to Scottish Ministers, within the terms of the
Framework Document, for its management, performance and future development."

"An August meeting, organised by the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, at which all of Scotland's housebuilders and property developers were present, the softly-spoken former archeologist raised eyebrows around the table, firstly by the fact that he was prepared to engage in any dialogue with the business community, and then by his assertion that Historic Scotland understood the need to develop the importance of quick decisions and flexible thinking to develop the Edinburgh economy, even to the extent of knocking down old buildings."


"Ron Hewitt, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: "Meeting Malcolm and hearing his views has been a breath of fresh air. "While the business community has been taking forward its plans for the economic development of the city that we believe is necessary for us to compete internationally, he has been helpful in showing us how to ease the planning process in a way that allows that to happen."

Manish Chande, Caltongate Developer is the head of the Chambers Property Portfolio group. See page 4 of ECC Magazine

"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 star hotel."

"Cooper has surprised many by approving the project in principle and making only minor objections to the details. "

"How, ask the protestors, could Scotland's "heritage watchdog" (a term Cooper hates) give its blessing to a scheme that will see the bulldozing of listed buildings and irreparably change the face of one of Europe's most hallowed thoroughfares?

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."

"Cooper is an advocate of the "big picture" and claims not to be obsessed with preserving non-unique listed buildings at the expense of new development that could have wider, environment-enhancing benefits. "

"Malcolm is great because he puts himself around, he comes and sees people and he is interested in listening as well as talking."Historic Scotland has changed. The understanding of the value of heritage is evolving, and I welcome their readiness to enjoy good modern work." says Malcolm Fraser who is the architect of the controversial building for Jeffrey St, see below.

"Born in Exeter, and an archeologist by training, Malcolm Cooper spent ten years with English Heritage before joining Historic Scotland in April last year. Responsible for a recently-restructured inspectorate of 110 staff, and a budget of £5.5 million, his teams identify and give statutory protection and consents for Scotland's historic environment, as well as dispensing grants for archeology and conservation programmes."

Caltongate Developer Manish Chande is a Commissioner of English Heritage as well as being on their finance and business committees. Cooper moved from English Heritage in April 2005 to Historic Scotland. Mountgrange bought the New Street site "known as Caltongate" in late 2004.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Public Inquiry for Caltongate?

Swinney asked to call in Caltongate application

Today Monday, 25 February 2008 this article appears in the Scottish Parliament`s

Online Holyrood Magazine

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth John Swinney has been asked to call in Edinburgh’s Caltongate planning application or hold a major inquiry by opponents of the scheme, including one of his party’s own MSPs.

Architect James Simpson wrote to Swinney late last week, stating that City of Edinburgh Council’s material interest in the site proposed for development and the high number of objections meant that a ministerial decision was appropriate.

Simpson, who is vice-president of the UK committee of the International Council for Monuments and Sites, funded by bodies including Historic Scotland and Edinburgh Council itself, also called for a public local inquiry. He asked Swinney to consider the views of the Reporter in such an inquiry before coming to a final decision.

Lothians SNP MSP Shirley- Anne Somerville has also written to the Cabinet Secretary asking him to call in the application with a view to addressing a number of concerns.

She said that she wasn’t necessarily against the development, but was against the actual plan that had been put forward. Meanwhile, Green MSP Robin Harper is calling for a public local inquiry and Independent MSP Margo MacDonald indicated in a recent column for the Evening News that she would support such moves.

In his letter to Swinney, Simpson says that the ‘Caltongate’ project was strongly backed by the previous administration on the council in a way which “verged on the improper”.

“It was simply inappropriate, in my view, for the council to encourage at the masterplanning stage, the demolition of a listed building in its ownership, which it had a statutory duty to protect.”

However, he stressed the main issue was the impact of the proposed project on the historic Canongate, the Waverley valley, iconic views of the Old Town from Calton Site as a whole.

“The suggestion that this particular development, and others like it,are essential for the wellbeing of the city is, frankly, bizarre. It is surely self-evident that it is the sheer quality and consistency of Edinburgh in architectural and planning terms, which are the foundations of Edinburgh’s greatness,” Simpson explained.

The Architectural Heritage Society for Scotland said that it hadn’t yet decided if it would write to Swinney, but that it was certainly considering it as there were “grounds for a public inquiry”. Grassroots group the Canongate Community Forum is asking people on its website to write to the Cabinet Secretary requesting a public inquiry.

However, a spokesman for developer Mountgrange said that there had been a four year process of consultation and dialogue, and that there was two to one backing for the scheme amongst members of the public.

“Historic Scotland, the nation’s heritage watchdog, has given support and the council has approved the masterplan and six out of seven of the applications. The democratic will of the people of Edinburgh is being followed, but it is a decision for Scottish ministers.”

Now lets see what truth if any has been uttered by Mountgrange`s spindoctor..

"four year process of consultation and dialogue"

The Caltongate Masterplan was unveiled to the public in October 2005, so that makes around two and a half years, not four...

and as for "consultation and dialogue" these words have been banded around for the two and a half years but their meanings never enacted..

"two to one backing for the scheme amongst members of the public"

Now from Mountgranges Caltongate News Jan 2008, that was posted to over 28,000 addresses within a one mile radius of the proposed Caltongate, they say

"Almost 700 (692 infact) residents returned questionnaires to the independent market research company to express their views on the proposed redevelopment of the site of the now demolished former bus depot and surrounding area. By a majority of 2 to 1, respondents said that they believed that the 300 million Caltongate project will improve Edinburgh`s Old Town."

So that equates to 346 members of the public, hardly anywhere near 224,312 members of the public, half the population of the cit, that they are implying ... (population of Edinburgh 448,624 at the 2001 Census)

Now that hardly compares to the thousands who have signed the online and paper petitions against the scheme? And of course the hundreds who have objected to the individual planning applications.

As for Historic Scotland that will be explored in tomorrows blog........

Sunday, 24 February 2008

How You Can Stop The Wrecking Ball

Save Our Old Town Campaign

what would be lost

To Stop Caltongate individuals and organisations need to

1. Write to the following Scottish Ministers urging them that Caltongate be called in and determination sought through a public inquiry

Cabinet Secretary John Swinney Minister for - Finance & Sustainable Growth
Linda Fabiani - Minister for Europe, External Affairs Affairs & Culture

More on their responsibilities here Scottish Government

you can email them at this address marking your letters for the attention of each individual minister

Write to them at
St Andrew`s House
Regent Road
Edinburgh EH1 3DG

2. You should also write to your constituency and regional MSPs find them here MSP FINDER by your postcode urging them that Caltongate should be called in and a Public Inquiry held.

3. You can also write to your MP and MEPS Find MP and MEPS (Scottish ones are listed even although it doesn’t say on home page, you just enter your postcode and they will appear)

4. You could also write to your local councillor(s) (although yours may be one of the planning committee that voted the plans through on the 6th Feb! (check here) asking them to write to The Scottish Government to press for for call in and determination through the Public Inquiry System.

All councillors emails or write to them C/O The City of Edinburgh Council, City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1YJ Find your councillors

Among points you could make are the following, do add your own and include any material you feel important, especially if you think it hasn`t been considered, and do let others know they can do this too.

It is understood that all the Caltongate Planning Applications must be sent to ministers under the Notification of Applications procedures for a number of reasons -

1. The council has a significant financial interest in the proposed applications and stands to receive financial payment on the delivery of planning consent.

2. The proposals ( in particular the demolition of structurally sound, in use buildings, both listed and unlisted in an Outstanding Conservation Area and World Heritage Site) conflict with key policies contained in the approved Structure and Local Plans and as such is a significant departure from the Development Plan.

3. There have been a significant level of objections received from community organisations and heritage groups in addition to the numerous individuals.

4. New legislation, policies, planning guidence is at a crucial stage and the proposals could set a dangerous precedent which would prejudice the effectiveness of these new policies.

5. The Caltongate Masterplan has been imbedded in the Finalised Local Plan for the area which has provoked many objections which have been requested to be heard at a LPI. The protection of listed and unlisted buildings, reference to the World Heritage Site, protection of housing and has yet to be tested through the Development Plan process.

6. The consultation process has been heavily critisised as not being inclusive, balanced or transparent and conflicts with new government guidance on growing community assets, partnership working, and community engagement.

7. The site lies in an area with international importance, a World Heritage Site.

8. This is a crucial time to send out the right message to developers.

9. The claimed economic benefits of the scheme could equally be made for a far more appropriate scheme, retaining homes and listed buildings, and with a far less detrimental impact on the WHS.

You should also write to ICOMOS UK as its ICOMOS who advises UNESCO

International Council on Monuments & Sites UK, 70 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6EJ


You could also inform UNESCO

The List of World Heritage in Danger is designed to inform the international community of conditions which threaten the very characteristics for which a property was inscribed on the World Heritage List, and to encourage corrective action.

Edinburgh`s Inscription

Edinburgh World Heritage Trust

Private individuals, non-governmental organizations, or other groups can draw the World Heritage Committee's attention to existing threats. If the alert is justified and the problem serious enough, the Committee may consider including the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

To inform the World Heritage Committee about threats to sites, you may contact the Committee's Secretariat at:


World Heritage CentreUNESCO7, place de Fontenoy75352, Paris, 07 SPFrance

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Architects Are Littering The Uk

A sign showing an architect sensibly throwing his latest plans for an ego driven landmark building into a bin. These signs are to be placed around Edinburgh to encourage architects to think before they submit plans and litter the city. Architects will be encouraged to have at least one in each of their offices

22 February 2008 from Building Design

Journalist and author Simon Jenkins has launched a broadside against architects, accusing them of being behind a drive to use the planning system to litter the country with unpopular “iconic” buildings.

“Town planning has always been stupid. It’s always been led by architects and construction”
Simon JenkinsSpeaking to BD as he prepared to deliver the Royal Town Planning Institute’s annual lecture on Wednesday night, Jenkins said the “stupid” and “neophiliac” planning system was run by a coterie of architects and construction industry professionals who had managed to convince politicians of the validity of their iconic building agenda at the expense of existing buildings.

“Town planning has always been stupid,” Jenkins said. “It’s always been led by architects and the construction industry [who have a] vested interest in tearing apart existing settlements and building new ones, but usually building new ones as iconic buildings rather than neighbourhoods, because that’s where the money and the glory is.”

He continued: “The concepts of the sustainable community and renewable, recyclable buildings and eco-cities are almost all just as stupid as the mistakes that were made before.”

Citing campaigns he had participated in, including the preservation of London markets such as Covent Garden and Spitalfields, he said that the general public were “instinctively being good planners” by choosing to congregate where old buildings exist.

But RIBA vice president Jack Pringle, who clashed with Jenkins in June when the two staged a debate over whether architects had learned the lessons of the sixties, dismissed Jenkins’ comments.

He said: “The best architects appreciate more than anybody else the value of listing buildings and the historic infrastructure.”

So Jack Pringle must be referring to Edinburgh Favourite Allan "I am an Urbanist not a Architect" Murray, then??

Save Our Old Town Campaign Website

Friday, 22 February 2008

Brutalism of The Old Town

Above is the Malcolm Fraser building for Jeffrey St, this is seeing it looking along East Market St toward the former Bus Depot Site

Brutalism Architecture

Caltongate plan too big for Old Town

SHAME on Edinburgh City Council for voting in favour of Caltongate.

The scale of this development is enormous leading to the demolition of two listed buildings and one or two fine MacRae tenements in favour of a hotel, conference centre, some housing and yet more bars, cafes, restaurants.
It will ruin the area for residents of the Old Town especially the Canongate. It will lead to traffic congestion, pollution and increased noise as well as threatening the World Heritage site.

In spite of massive objections the council has decided to proceed for the sake of commercial gain.The designs seen so far look like brutal Soviet-style buildings more akin to a ghetto. The use of wood is questionable as in a polluted, damp atmosphere it doesn't weather well unless it is regularly maintained.A development of a more modest scale, catering more for residents is required.

Mrs M E Hodges, Meadowbank, Edinburgh

Grandstand view of city's priority list

IT has been announced that the council is about to commit £3 million towards the replacement of the stands used on the Castle Esplanade during the Military Tattoo.

In the same budget we are to face school cut backs or closures, delayed school refurbishments, cuts to the Adult Education Budget, and cuts to services elsewhere. Where is their sense of priorities?

Supporting the Tattoo, laudable though that is in times of plenty, is using public money to subsidise a commercial enterprise. The council can argue the benefits of the tourist trade that the Tattoo attracts, but these are commercial benefits which principally accrue to the business community. The business community in its turn will argue that the Tattoo generates jobs...but jobs for whom? Most jobs generated by seasonal tourist activities are low paid, and increasingly filled by seasonal, migrant workers.

Building new grandstands for rich tourists' bums, while at the same time savagely pruning the education (or any other social) budget is simply wrong: morally wrong. Why can't the council see that?

We have a council sitting in the City Chambers that has quite lost its moral compass. Business interests – as in the Caltongate affair – get whatever they want; while the city residents get what they are given.

The unstable and unhealthy relationship between council, business and voter must be rebalanced in the residents' favour.Politicians always claim that they answer to the voter at the ballot box. At the next local election we can all easily make this happen; just cast our votes for anyone except the sitting member in your ward. If every voter in the city did that, every ward in the council chamber should change hands. A clean sweep.

We desperately need a council better able to balance the needs of community and business interests. Power to the people!

David Fiddimore, Nether Craigwell, Calton Road, Edinburgh

Evening News Letters

Save Our Old Town Campaign Website

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Champagne Donation Under Fire

Article in today`s Times Scotland Edition Page 11

Links between the Labour Party and the developer of the controversial Caltongate project in Edinburgh have come under renewed scrutiny following the disclosure that the company, Mountgrange, made a £4,000 donation for a champagne reception at a Scottish Labour Party fund-raising dinner.

The company’s decision to sponsor the event was called “unwise” by Margo MacDonald, the independent MSP for the Lothians, while Ewan Aitken, the leader of the Labour group in Edinburgh City Council, accepted that his party’s association with Mountgrange had harmed “perception” of Labour.

Ewan Aitken

The £300 million Caltongate project in Edinburgh’s Old Town has has been opposed by conservationists, but was supported by some members of the former Labour administration.

The company’s donation has attracted criticism because it was made in February as elections approached, and Labour’s majority the City Council was in doubt. Bob Cairns, a former Edinburgh convenor of planning said his party should not “have touched the money with a bargepole”.

In October, it was disclosed that Donald Anderson, the former leader of Edinburgh council, had been appointed Scottish director of PPS , a public relations company promoting Caltongate on behalf of Mountrange


Ms MacDonald said: “It was pretty well established that some councillors had a very close working relationship with the company. That is case – and that allows you to judge whether it was wise of the company to have a champagne reception for Labour, and declare it during an election campaign. That is not clever at all,” she said.

Margo MacDonald

Mr Aitken insisted that the Labour group on the city council was unaware of the donation until after the event, a fund-raising business dinner held in Glasgow on behalf of the Scottish Labour Party.

He said: “You heard what Bob [Cairns] said. I don’t think the association has helped the perception. But the notion that we were embroiled in something is simply not the case,” said Mr Aitken

Meanwhile, Mr Anderson who was then still councillor for Kaimes in Edinburgh - said that he had attended the dinner but had only become aware of the Mountgrange sponsorship during the vote of thanks.

Scottish Labour officials stressed that fund-raising dinners were common to all parties, and that other businesses had registered similar sponsorship donations on this occasion.

Mountgrange’s donation is, however, the only one to have been made by the company to any political party which has been listed by the Electoral Commission.

A spokesman for the company said it had been invited to sponsor the event by Labour: “Given that the audience was largely senior business figures with whom we may do business, we were happy to agree to sponsor this on a commercial basis.”

A comment piece by Gina Davidson in todays`s Evening News Modern doesn`t mean monolithic

"Malcolm Fraser, says much of modern design is "dreadful", "disheartening", "dull and thoughtless" and that the major drive for architects and developers is "will this get past planning?". is he talking about this, his own grand design for Jeffrey St?

The piece ends with -
"What Edinburgh needs and deserves if it is to move on rather than die – as Allan Murray, the mastermind behind Caltongate puts it – is thoughtful rather than thoughtless development."

Mountgrange Chief Executive Manish Chande wheeling a fibreglass "Brave Heart Cow" through Princes Street Gardens which is Common Good Land which belongs to the people of Scotland. So, no, Manish, you cannot buy it.

This ridiculous as well as insulting spectacle was to launch his assault on the capital, with all that money can sponsor can buy you anything? The company`s name was on a majority of the cows throughout the capital, including this one that was placed opposite the City Chambers! Speaks volumes.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Caltongate Developers funded Labour while seeking council backing

The Times, Feb 20, 2008 By Mike Wade Page 5 Scotland Edition (not available online)

>Scottish party given £4,000 by Mountgrange

>Former leader has job at project`s company PPSGroup

A London-based development company behind one of the most controversial planning decisions in Edinburgh made a £4,000 donation to the Scottish Labour Party to fund a champagne reception at a time when the backing of party councillors for the project was crucial to its success.

A Times investigation has established that the donation was made by Mountgrange, the company which is developing the £300 million Caltongate project in the heart of Edinburgh's historic OldTown. The scheme, which envisages the demolition of some listed buildings, is bitterly opposed by conservationists.

The disclosure of the donation last night provoked outrage among the scheme’s opponents, who seized demanded an investigation into links between the former Labour council and Mountgrange.

Bob Cairns, a former Labour councillor, who left the post as convenor of planning in 2003 said the party had been “extremely unwise” to accept a donation from a firm involved in such a controversial planning application. “Personally, I wouldn’t have touched money from that source with a barge pole,” he said.

It is claimed that the donation was made when the future political control of the city was in doubt. It was expected that Labour would retain control - in fact the SNP now holds the balance of power.

Links between Mountgrange and the Labour Party have been the subject of controversy since last October, when it was disclosed that Donald Anderson, the former Labour leader of Edinburgh council, had been appointed Scottish director of PPS, the public relations company which has been promoting the Caltongate project on behalf of Mountgrange.

While still leader of the council, Mr Anderson had spoken out enthusiastically in favour of the Caltongate scheme in a newsletter published by PPS on behalf of Mountgrange, though he had stepped down from his position by the time the donation to Scottish Labour was published by the Electoral Commission on 20 March.

Then, on 19 April, two weeks before Labour were voted from office, the city council’s planning committee approved by nine votes to five the installation of an underground heating system, which formed the first phase of the Caltongate project.

Steve Cardownie, the SNP councillor who is deputy leader of Edinburgh City Council, said the revelation was “disconcerting news”.

He said: “This is an extremely controversial planning application which found support within the previous city administration. It merits further investigation to find just how deep these connections go.

“Although the new administration has determined recent applications, this still does raise question marks over the relationship between the Labour Party and the company and why the donation wasn’t made known prior to their application being submitted.”

Any donation to a political party has to be declared within 30 days. In spring 2007 Labour were still hopeful of remaining in power at national and local level. In the event it was unsuccessful on both counts, and for Mr Anderson, who resigned as council leader in August 2006, there was further disappointment as he failed in his attempt to be elected as MSP for Edinburgh South.

He established Anderson Consulting, a firm which, according to its website, offered “comprehensive advice on planning policy, and processes. We help make sure your project gets a fair hearing from the planning process, and that you are able to respond positively to concerns.”

Anderson Strategy

Five months later it was found that he had taken up a new position as Scottish Director of PPS. He is still employed in that capacity but despite his seniority, the company claims that he does not to work on the Caltongate project.

However, in May 2006, while still leader of the council, Mr Anderson, enthusiastically endorsed Mountgrange’s plans in a glossy newsletter produced by PPS and distributed to households in central Edinburgh.

“The Caltongate development offers Edinburgh a terrific opportunity to transform this area from a neglected backwater into a vibrant, integrated part of the city centre. The mix of residential, commercial and public space will make this one of the most desirable locations in the city and regenerate an area that for too long has been allowed to run down,” he said.

Opponents of Caltongate include community groups and the Cockburn Association, Edinburgh’s civic trust. They have campaigned against the demolition of two listed buildings, and against the size and scale of the project which lies of land between the Canongate and Calton Road. However, in Mountgrange, they have found a powerful opponent.

The company was formed in 2002 by Manish Chande, its chief executive, and Martin Myers, his business partner. In 2004 Caltongate was one of five development sites in England and Scotland that the company bought from the Sofam Beheer BV for a total price of £60m.

Mr Chande is a former director of Land Securities, the UK’s biggest property company, and, with Mr Myers, joint founder of Trillium, which won a contract to own and manage the majority of the Department for Work and Pensions property portfolio – a 2bn deal that made it Britain's biggest commercial landlord.

More than 2,000 objections have been lodged against the Caltongate development. It earmarked for the site of a former bus garage on New Street. A PPS spokesman said: “Mountgrange has sponsored a number of events, including the Cow Parade in Edinburgh and the reception at a Scottish Labour Party business dinner.”

No-one from the Scottish Labour Party was available for comment.

Edinburgh Cow

Then in the Final edition of Today`s Evening News Edinburgh Council`s Labour leader Ewan Aitken hit back at claims his former administration was wined and dined at a champagne reception paid for by the company behind the Caltongate development.

Remember this?

Evening News Dec 06 Councillor Trevor Davies stunned the group of parents and children as he was heading into a champagne reception hosted by developers in the Old Town.

My worries over Caltongate grow By MARGO MacDONALD

From piece in today`s Evening News

"That fact, and his cheap shot at linking the objections to his plan to the over-crowded, dirty and diseased Edinburgh of the 17th century, has stiffened my resolution in favour of further investigation of the present plan up to and including a public inquiry, if that's what it takes to bring about a development of the city that reflects the character, standards and ambition of its citizens."

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

SOOT Meeting Tonight Tues 19th Feb 7.30pm

Above are Lily and Max who live in the Canongate. What is their future? Are they the last children in the Old Town? Are they to be replaced by 5 star hotel guests? Is there no room in Scotland`s capital for a growing generation? Will there be no one in 20 years who has had a childhood in our capital`s historic core? Is this what the developers, council and architects want? Perhaps it is, no one who cares about the environment, no stewards of the future. Do we wish our capital to go the way of Manchester and Leeds? A no gone zone for families and the elderly? Only a free for all, for clone town architecture, nightclubs, cafe culture and hop on hop off tourist buses. Sad tours around what could have been a thriving living capital in a country proud of its people and history.

Come and get involved tonight at the follow up meeting on the councils misguided decision to pass the Caltongate Plans on the 6th February. The Canongate Community Forum has been awarded
SCARF funding for community research. Become a member and help shape a sustainable future for the capitals heart. You do not need to live in the Old Town, only have a love and concern for it. We now have premises for a Drop-IN Ideas Shop on St Marys St, just off the Canongate.

The CCF`s AGM will run from 7pm till 7.30pm. Then the SOOT meeting and SCARF planning will run until 9pm.

Meeting at Old Saint Pauls Church Hall, Jeffrey Street see

Monday, 18 February 2008

Caltongate Or Edinburgh Must Die!!

The battle for Edinburgh continues, the mitts are off as far as Allan Murray is concerned in the Evening News today Architecthitsback

More on the Glenrothes man who went on to build skyscrapers in the US HeartofGlass

Saturday, 16 February 2008

SAVE To Help Fight Caltongate

The threatened Canongate Venture building

Todays Scotsman tells how
Save Britains Heritage the leading campaign group in the country has written a letter to the City Of Edinburgh Council. In it they condemn the planned demolitions of the two listed buildings to make way for Caltongate, and warn of the impact the scheme will have on Edinburgh`s Historic Heart.

Edinburgh World Heritage will shortly welcome Adam Wilkinson (pictured above) as its new director. Adam will join in EWH April from the campaigning organisation SAVE Britain’s Heritage, where he has been Secretary for the past seven years.

The piece also mentions how the Scottish Government is facing demands to call in the development and order a public inquiry amid fears Edinburgh riskd losing it World Heritage Status. ICOMOS Press Release

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Things are at Boyling Point

Frank Boyle's cartoon made the Republic laugh when it came out. He obviously was paying attention to what was going on.
Go along and see his exhibition at the City Arts Centre in Market Street from 16th February to 19th April and best of all it's free.
The AGM for the Canongate Community Forum will be held on Tuesday, 19th Febraury from 7 pm at Old St Paul's Church. The SOOT meeting will be held directly afterwards - everyone is welcome, please bring your ideas along - they are really needed

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

City fails to back school listing bid

Craigmillar a scheme in Edinburgh is currently being regenerated and it looks like it is looking good with some nice houses and that but we now have an issue about St Francis School. It's to be demolished to make way possibly for a supermarket. Historic Scotland are considering listing it but the Council - is against it and "not in a position to support the inclusion" as the site is needed for the development.

It is worth pointing out that the school was built by Ebenezer Macrae here none of his buildings are listed but I think atleast one should be or one day there will be no Macrae buildings left. Macrae is the same architect who built the Macrae tenements to be demolished and facaded on the Canongate.
The Independent Republic of the Canongate doesn't have a fetish about Ebenezer Macrae or listed buildings - just thought it was interesting what was going on around Edinburgh.

The Evening News article suggests there is to be a "Save St Francis Primary School"

THE city council was under attack today for fighting proposals to give listed status to a historic primary school earmarked for demolition.
The 1930s St Francis RC Primary School in Craigmillar is set to make way for the £180 million ParcLife project aimed at regenerating the area.A new campaign group has been set up to fight to save the school on Niddrie Mains Road, described as "one of the few beautiful buildings" in Craigmillar.Government agency Historic Scotland is considering listing the property, due to its "good plan form and very good streetscape presence", which would make demolition much more difficult.But in a letter seen by the Evening News, the city's top planning official, Alan Henderson, said the council was "not in a position to support the proposed inclusion" because the regeneration scheme requires the site.A £13m campus, bringing together St Francis and the non-denominational Niddrie Mill Primary School, catering for around 700 children, is due to open for the next school year. The massive regeneration will eventually include 3200 homes, three other new schools, a library and a remodelled "town centre".Residents fear that St Francis will be demolished to make way for a supermarket car park.Former city councillor and ex-community councillor Paul Nolan, who helped set up the Protect St Francis campaign, said the situation was a "scandal".Mr Nolan, an ex-pupil of the school, said
: "St Francis is one of the few beautiful buildings in Craigmillar and many of us feel that what little heritage the community has should be protected."The group has written to members of the city's planning committee, MPs and MSPs, and has contacted former pupils.In a letter sent to the campaigners by Historic Scotland, inspector of historic buildings Joan Richardson said: "We intend to proceed with proposing this building for addition to the statutory list and will shortly be in consultation with the council."A spokeswoman added today: "We are in the process of consultation with City of Edinburgh Council on whether St Frances RC Primary School merits listing."Councillor Jim Lowrie, the city's planning convener, added: "The council is committed to the regeneration of Craigmillar and continues to consult with local residents, community groups and other stakeholders

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

What is the point of listing a building if it can be destroyed?

Letter from The Scotsman on 11th February 2008

Obviously the conservation term "listed" is meaningless. If a wealthy development company like Mountgrange can persuade city councillors to demolish listed structures in a World Heritage Site, then why bother putting buildings on the preservation list at all?
I am in agreement with Jane Jackson of the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust (your report, 7 February); the loss of the Sailors' Ark and the Canongate School will be a waste of two structurally-sound buildings eminently suitable for refurbishment and reuse. I also concur with her view that the projected hotel and conference centre will be totally incongruous in that part of the Old Town and will have a "detrimental impact on the character of that area of the city". Let's hope that Mountgrange doesn't get away with its proposal to reduce a neighbouring 1930s tenement block to a facade – a stunningly pointless plan.

MARTIN HETHERINGTON, Queen Street, Whitehaven, Cumbria

Monday, 11 February 2008

Manhatten has the Cloverfield Monster ...Edinburgh has Caltongate

New blockbuster film from the states is Cloverfield where a big ugly monster smashes up Manhatten - well the World Heritage Site doesn't need a nasty monster cause we have Mountgrange (aided and abetted by the cooncil)

Here is a trailer for Cloverfield and here is a trailer for Mountgrange

Which monstrosity were you most frightened off?

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Having a wee day off

No news today so the collective at the Independent Republic of the Canongate is a having a wee day off - pity its no summer really but never mind.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Black spot for Caltongate

Edinburgh Evening News reports here that David black, the founder of the Old Town Association has written to the European Commission about potential breaches in legislation and the Treaty of Rome (1957) about anti-competiveness and the selling off of common good land.

Good on David Black. We have to use every piece of noddle we have to stop this monstrosity. We understand that some people might think we are being trapped in the past or old fashioned fuddy duddies but that really is not the case. The Canongate means a lot to the Independent Republic of the Canongate and we only want the best for it - we have to leave it to future generations and we can't leave a complex that will look tatty and out of place because Alan Murray and his like thought glass, blonde stone, steel, copper and the rest was what the Old Town needed because the rest of it was old-fashioned.

We want a development but we want the right development so we must fight on. Join us in Saving Our Old Town.

The AGM for the Canongate Community Forum is on Tuesday 19th February and the SOOT meeting will follow in deciding "What Next". The meeting will be from 7 at Old St Paul's Church in Jeffrey Street.

Friday, 8 February 2008

The Councils New Masterplan update

Next SOOT MEETING WHAT NOW? and CCF AGM 19th Feb Old Saint Pauls
more details next week.

Adapted from Hans Christian Andersons`
The Emperor`s New Clothes

Not so long ago there lived a council who cared so much for fancy schemes, they spent all the city’s money upon them, and on junkets and on rebranding the city and the like. They gave no thought to their citizens or to the affairs of their city. They had a new idea for every hour of the day and spent most of their time in the pages of the local papers so that everyone might see their wonderful projects.

One day there came to the city a carpetbagger called Manish Chande who had set himself up as a developer. He said he knew how to build the most wonderful development in the world. The materials and the architecture were marvellously beautiful, he said; but this project could not be seen by anyone who was stupid or unfit for their office.

"We must have lots of developments made from these materials and architecture," thought the council. "When the people see the development, we shall know the clever people from the dunces. That developer must be brought to us at once."
So the developer came to the city chambers. The council offered him a land deal so that he might begin his work without delay.

The developer immediately set to work. They called for the worst architects, materials and the dodgiest PR firm they could find. They then worked steadily at convincing the city of their terrible plans.

Day after day the council could hear the rattling of the PR machine. They became very curious to see the wonderful masterplan and they decided to send someone to find how the developer and architects were getting on.

But they remembered that no one who was stupid or was unfit for his office could see how marvellous the development was. "We will send our faithful old Leader Donald Anderson to see it," thought the council. "He is a very clever man, and no one is more worthy of his office than he."

So good old Donald went into the room where the developer and architect sat with the masterplan. He stared and stared, and opened his eyes wide.
"Mercy on us!" he thought. "It’s monstrous” But he said nothing at all.
"Come a little closer," coaxed the architect. "Is not this a beautiful masterplan? And the buildings- are they not magnificent?" And he pointed to the concrete blocks. Poor old Donald put on his spectacles and bent over the plans, but he could see only a vision from hell!

"Mercy!" he said to himself. "Is it possible that I am unfit for my office? Certainly no one must know it. Am I a dunce? It will never do to say that I cannot see the beauty!"
"Well sir, what do you think of it?" asked the developer.
"Oh, it is charming - beautiful," said Donald, as he peered through his spectacles.
"The buildings are gorgeous and the layout is very fine. I shall tell the council that I am much pleased with your work."

"We are very glad to hear you say so," said the developer and architects. And they went on talking of the masterplan. They had named it Caltongate, and described the peculiar layout. Donald listened carefully, for he wished to repeat to the Council all that was said.

Soon the developers began a consultation on the masterplan. It was a sham but it was useful to say they had done it.

The council then sent an official Alan Henderson and the chair of the planning committee Trevor Davies to see the masterplan. But these men fared no better than their leader. They stood before the monstrous masterplan, and looked and looked and looked, but they didn’t see a beautiful development fitting for the World Heritage Site.

"Is this not magnificent masterplan?" asked the developers. And then they praised the gorgeous architecture and explained how it was a once in a generation opportunity for the city, which it certainly was not.

"Dear, dear!" thought Trevor and Alan. "Surely I am not stupid. It must be that I am unfit for the council." But they did not want to appear so and they praised the beautiful Caltongate.
"Ah!" said Trevor. "The design is most unusual; and the architecture is marvellous. I shall tell the Council what fine progress you are making."

Then all of the council knew that they must view the marvellous masterplan.
They went to view it along with Trevor, Donald and Alan, who thinking that the others would see how monstrous it was, all began to cry out at once, "Look, everyone, do you see the beautiful design? And the buildings- aren’t they gorgeous?”
"See!" the developer said. "There are the beautiful buildings! Here is the economic argument! It’s an all or nothing deal. You may act as if this will not affect the world heritage status. That is the beauty of it."

"What is this?" thought the Councillors. They could only see a monstrous development not right for the world heritage site! “Are we not fit to be councillors? Am we dunces? If that were known, we should be deposed."
"Yes, yes, it is very pretty," said the councillors aloud. "We could not be better pleased!" They smiled and nodded their heads, and stared at the horrific masterplan.

Their officials too, looked and looked, but saw only what the others saw.
Yet they all cried, "It is marvellous!" And the planners recommended that the council planning committee approve the Caltongate Masterplan.

Soon everyone in the city was talking about Caltongate. Mountgrange placed ornamental cows around the city with their name on them so everyone could see what wonderful developers they were.

So then the people in the city were allowed to gaze at the masterplan for they too wanted to see the magical Caltongate
"How handsome the Councils Caltongate is!" they all cried. "What a perfect fit for the World Heritage Site! What marvellous architecture"

"But it is horrible!" cried a resident in the Old Town.
"The resident tells the truth," said her neighbours quietly.
And the people began to whisper to one another what the resident had said. "It is horrible! A resident says it is horrible!" Soon all the people and the city’s heritage bodies were saying aloud, "But it is horrible!"

And the Council, hearing what they said, shivered, for they knew that their words were true. But it would never do to stop the process; and so they held themselves stiffer than ever. And behind them, their officials held their heads higher than ever, and took greater pains to justify the Masterplan.

As the day of the committee came nearer, the PR team worked with might and main. They were never out of the local press. They filled the pages with empty statements and the airwaves with spin.

The Planning Committee’s 15 councillors looked again the masterplan, and then they held their hands high in the air and approved it. They did not dare let it be known that they saw a vision from hell.

The developers then pretended to listen again, to the local community, while they drew up the detailed plans. They sent out more promotion all over the city. They wined and dined whoever they had to and Alistair Darling gave money towards their underground heating although this will not serve the peoples housing.

"How well the city will do with this new development." says the Chamber of Commerce? "What a becoming style! What beautiful economic arguments! They are indeed fit for the world heritage site!" The Chamber gave the developer Manish Chande a key position, and the architect was told he could redesign the entire city.

In the following year after the masterplan was approved, Donald and Trevor were not re-elected. But alas Trevor carries on his love for Caltongate in the local press from time to time and Donald now works for the developers’ infamous PR firm PPS.
Alan Henderson is still in office and has just recommended that the new planning committee approve the individual plans on the 6th of February.
Will this new planning committee join in the cries of the people or continue with the pretence………….to be continued
Today the 2nd of February yet another Caltongate Lies Letter has slithered through over 28,000 letter boxes

On February the 6th 2008 the New planning Committee continued with the pretence, only two joined in the cries of the people Cllrs Burgess and Keir
See yesterdays posting for more details
Todays Press Coverage
On the 27th may 2007 NEW Lib Dem Council Leader city council leader Jenny Dawe today branded designs for a landmark building in the Caltongate development "grotesque and hideous", raising further questions about the future of the £300 million project.Articlehere

now she is seeing the Emperor`s New Clothes

Ben Lee, PlanningResource, 7 February 2008
A controversial £300 million flat and office development in Edinburgh's Old Town has been largely approved by city councillors.
Edinburgh city council's planning committee passed 10 out of 12 applications before it - including a five star hotel and new public square.Councillors will continue discussing an application for a residential and business facility and a request to demolish buildings in Canongate.Officers had already backed developers Mountgrange's plans. Minor conditions relating to materials, affordable housing and a community facility were added.Council leader Jenny Dawe said: "The Caltongate development will breathe new life into a neglected part of the Old Town."The competed scheme would include 200 homes, offices and restaurants. A street would be built to link Holyrood Palace, the Scottish parliament and Waverley station.Around 350 individuals and organisations - including Edinburgh World Heritage and the Cockburn Association - have lodged more than 1,800 objections to the project.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

The Mad Hatters Tea Party

Green councillor Steve Burgess and the SNP's Colin Keir opposed many of the separate plans for the Old Town site, but Lib Dem convener Jim Lowrie spoke out in support of the scheme.The project will now progress to Scottish Ministers for a final decision.

Address for all councillors: The City of Edinburgh Council, City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1YJ


The following councillors were in favour

Jim Lowrie Planning Convener
Scottish Liberal Democrat
Ward 9 - Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart

Charles Dundas Caltongate in his ward
Scottish Liberal Democrat
Ward 11 - City Centre
Gary Peacock
Scottish Liberal Democrats
Ward 14 - Craigentinny/Duddingston

Marjorie Thomas
Scottish Liberal Democrat
Ward 13 - Leith

Elaine Morris
Liberal Democrat Party
Ward 4 - Forth

Joanna Mowat Caltongate in her ward
Scottish Conservative
Ward 11 - City Centre

Cameron Rose
Scottish Conservative
Ward 15 - Southside/Newington

Alastair Paisley
Scottish Conservative Party
Ward 2 - Pentland Hills

Eric Milligan
Scottish Labour Party
Ward 7 - Sighthill/Gorgie

Lesley Hinds
Scottish Labour Party
Ward 5 - Inverleith

Norma Hart
Scottish Labour Party
Ward 16 - Liberton/Gilmerton

Rob Munn
Scottish National Party
(SNP)Ward 13 - Leith

Stuart Roy McIvor
Scottish National Party (SNP)
Ward 5 - Inverleith