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.