Friday, 27 June 2008

Project Shop Closing Gathering Sat 28th June

At the meeting in the shop last night it was decided that the shop will open tomorrow from 11am until probably the early evening to mark the end of the project and closure of shop at 8 St Mary`s Street, just off The Royal Mile See Map
There will be accoustic music from some of the musicians that were going to play at the street party and refreshments etc.
You will be able to see the beautiful drawing by the late local artist and activist Ken Skeel that he donated to the campaign. We also received a donation from his partner Nell that people gave instead of flowers for his funeral last month. . You can also see the original Cartoon (see above) donated to the campaign by award winning cartoonist Frank Boyle

Project surveys will be available to fill in, but if you cannot make tomorrow please copy and paste the following survey into an email, answer the questions and return here to us here at at this email address, asap.

It was also decided last night, that SOOT would continue to run and make links with similar campaigns around the world.


This survey will form part of our research project and the information we collect will be used to define the next stage of the project. You can fill it in anonymously or write your name at the end if you like.



Under 16
60 +
Where do you live?

Connection with the Canongate?

What do you think the Canongate needs?
Delete the ones you do not think area needs,

BETTER MIX OF SHOPS (for residents & tourists)

Write Agree or Disagree at end of question
1. Sound buildings should not be demolished
2. Communities to be consulted before council sell Public Buildings and Land
3. Common Good Land and Assets given greater protection and full recognition
(Owned by the people of Scotland- council are trustees on their behalf)
4. New developments should be required to respect historic place names
5. The Old Town needs responsive regeneration not dominant developments
6. `Caltongate` development should be stopped

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Council Cocks Up

Council Cock up Cancels Community`s Canongate Street Party
East Market Street Saturday 28th June 11am - 4.30pm

The Canongate Street Party the last in The Canongate Project`s programme of events which is also part of The Old Town Festival`s programme has had to be cancelled at this late notice due to information received in a phone call from the council late on Friday afternoon. We have thought long and hard about this and in light of an event (of 420 plus) happening in the same street at the same time as this community event, it is therefore our opinion that the only option is to cancel the party for health and safety reasons.
Now the council knew about this other event happening since last year it appears, so why didn`t they tell us back in March/April then we could have chosen another date? Did they leave it to the last minute intentionally, or was it a good old fashioned cock-up?
You decide?

Please accept our apologies to all of you who were going to have a stall, entertain, help on the day or were looking forward to the party.
Tel 07788 755303 or email us at if you require more information.

Emergency SOOT Meeting Thursday 26th June 7.30pm
doors open 7pm

at The Canongate Project`s Shop at 8 St Mary`s Street, just off The Royal Mile See Map

Come along and discuss the future actions of The Save Our Old Town Campaign -

Why the Land Deal between the Council and Caltongate Developer`s Mountgrange is currently undergoing investigation by the EU.

Find out how SOOT is going Global while still acting local by linking up with others across the world in New York

and what next month in Quebec means for Edinburgh`s World Heritage Status.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Margo Questions Alex

Go to 18mins 58secs First Ministers Questions on Thursday 19th June 2008 to hear Independent Msp Margo Macdonald question the First Minister Alex Salmond on the Government`s decision this week not to call in the Caltongate Planning Applications, his answer was brief and he said the City Council are best placed to consider developments for the city....are they really, considering they entered into a questionable land deal ?

Remember this? Developers Funded Labour from 21st Feb 2008 in The Times from the article

"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."

Now if it had to go to ministers because of the financial interest why oh why did the First Minister brush it aside so quickly when questioned by Margo Macdonald? Saying the council were best placed, its obvious they are not, and the only thing that matters to them is the money promised....this tawdry development the means they believe the only way to get it.

And remember this?
"The scheme will have to go before the Scottish parliament in any event, as the city council has a stake in the scheme. Mountgrange bought some council-owned land around the site it owned, a former bus garage, which was due to be developed. The council will receive a small share of the profits from the site. ‘It was done to make sure the council didn’t sell us short,’ says Berry. ‘It only has a passive involvement.’ "

"In October, eyebrows were also raised over the appointment of Donald Anderson, former council leader, as Scottish director of PPS, the public relations agency that is promoting Caltongate on behalf of Mountgrange."
This appeared in Property Week on the 14th March Full Article Here

Really does the whole thing not stink as much as an American Tycoon`s Toupee??

And let us not forget that developer Manish Chande is friends with Malcolm Cooper of Historic Scotland, that Manish Chande is the Property Portfolio boss in Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.

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

and Caltongate Architect Malcolm Fraser even sings the praises of Malcolm Cooper "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.

My worries over Caltongate grow By MARGO MacDONALD

THE 2000 objections to the Caltongate development came from town planners, architects, people who live in the Old Town, elsewhere in the city and outside the Capital: a disparate group possibly only united in their pride in, and concern for, Edinburgh.

Full article here Evening News 20th Feb 2008

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Does Caltongate's approval show heritage issues aren't important?

see here buildings to face the wrecking ball!

JAMES SIMPSON, conservation architect and vice-president of ICOMOS UK, an advisory body to Unesco

THE International Council on Monuments and Sites, which is responsible for monitoring the UK's World Heritage Sites, has been extremely concerned about the decisions taken on the Caltongate development to date.

One of the main issues of concern is that there is no extra protection for World Heritage Sites provided under the current planning system in Scotland.

We hope that will be addressed under the new planning act which is going through the Scottish Parliament at the moment so that World Heritage Sites have specific guidelines for protection over and above other areas.

The main problem with Caltongate is that the decision to demolish two listed buildings has effectively allowed the developer to greatly expand the size and scale of their scheme.

One of the great principles of urban conservation in Edinburgh, dating back to the time of Patrick Geddes, is that any interventions into the existing landscape should be kept as small as possible and not be too overwhelming.

Unfortunately, that is what we feel will happen with the Caltongate development, which we feel is simply not good enough for Edinburgh's World Heritage Site.

We have been living through an era where there has been high development pressure in cities such as Edinburgh and it does seem as if heritage concerns have been neglected.

The city council does seem to have been going for a more competitive approach to development in recent years.

However, our view would be that the balance has swung too far.

Read other side of argument from Chamber of Commerce (sick bag recommended)

Caltongate Go ahead may put heritage at risk Article 19th June Scotsman

Friday, 20 June 2008

Save Our Old Town latest

Mountgrange`s Manish Chande, London Developer pulling a Brave Heart Cow through Princes Street Gardens when he arrived in the capital

So we`ve been Trumped! The ministers are so busy with Balmedie they have taken their eyes off the even bigger ball here in the shadow of the Scottish Parliament and their offices at St Andrews House. Do not despair it is not over, come to the Street Party and see what The Canongate Project findings are so far....the real exciting work will begin once the credit crunch has banished the Carpetbaggers Mountgrange from the city for once and for all.

Street Party Saturday 28th June 2008
11am - 4pm
East Market Street
see for more

Monday, 16 June 2008

3000 more hotels to be built

Shame the priority is hotels but very few affordable homes are being built in Edinburgh, the homeless figures go up and more and more people are stuck in privately rented and mortgaged accomodation they can't afford. Where's the investment in homes. What about a headline "City to get 3000 more affordable social homes in just seven years". Come on get your priorities right.

City to get 3000 more hotel rooms in just seven years

Published Date: 16 June 2008


A MASSIVE hotel building programme in Edinburgh will create more than 3000 new bedrooms in the space of just a few years, it was revealed today.

A report produced as part of the Scotland-wide bid to increase tourism revenue by 50 per cent before 2015, shows the city is already well ahead of target.

In the last year, the city council's planning committee granted permission for 1542 new rooms – including a five-star hotel in the controversial Caltongate development, the Hotel Du Vin on Forrest Road and an Apex Hotel on Waterloo Place.

On top of that, new developments with a total of 1487 rooms are set to come before councillors this year, including a massive £200 million project at Haymarket, which features two hotels with 426 rooms.

A 2006 report identified a need for 4000 new hotel rooms in the city by 2015, meaning Edinburgh is three-quarters of the way towards that goal.

Although pressures on the global economy have resulted in a fall in advance bookings for June, July and August this year, Edinburgh's hotels traditionally run at an occupancy rate of more than 90 per cent during the Festival months.

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city's economic development leader, said today: "The growing demand for hotel rooms is a sign that Edinburgh remains a highly-attractive destination.

"This is great news for the Capital's economy, with positive knock-on effects for jobs, shops and other businesses. The target of 4000 should be easily met within the recommended timeframe."

In 2007/08, 134 hotel rooms were completed, and construction began on another 775. On top of that, planning consent was granted for developments with 633 new rooms – a combined total of 38.6 per cent of the 2015 target.

Sinead Guerin, VisitScotland regional director, said today: "Investment in the tourism industry is crucial for improving the prospects for both leisure and business tourism. It is very encouraging that the local authority has recognised this."

Edinburgh has been set its own goal of increasing tourism revenues by 63 per cent by 2015.

Business tourism currently accounts for £300m of the £1.08 billion spent by visitors to the Capital every year.

The flagship hotels at Haymarket and Caltongate – if approved – will both be five-star.

To read the article in the Edinburgh Evening News click here

Friday, 13 June 2008

Weekend Fun in the canongate

Growing Community Assets film will be showing at the Canongate Project, 8 St Mary's Street on Saturday at 12 noon.

The Royal Mile Primary School is having it's school fayre and the "mobile Shop" will be there gathering people's opinions on the Canongate and what community assets are needed and wanted. School Fayre is from 11 to 2 at the school at the bottom of the Canongate.

Only 14 days to the street party on East Market Street. If you are interested in building for the street party please feel free to drop in on street party organising group Sunday afternoon about 2pm onwards.

And remember if you've missed events and film screenings there is time to still participate - come to visit and see results, films, contribute to banner making and get involved in the Street Party planned for 28th June. ideas,donations and volunteers welcome.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

SOOT and Community Land Partnerships

On Wednesday 11th June as part of The Canongate Project from 6pm - 7pm there is an opportunity to catch up with members of The Save Our Old Town Campaign.

Then at 7pm there is a talk/discussion with Chris Cook on Community Land Partnerships. Both events are at 8 St Mary`s Street just off the Royal Mile.
Here is a bit of background on CLPs which will prove to be a thought provoking look at land, ownership and development -

Sustainable Development
Existing modes of development encourage, even mandate, sociopathic behaviour on the part of property developers. Land is acquired and developed with borrowed money secured by a mortgage on the property. The developer is motivated to develop as quickly as possible and as cheaply as possible with no real regard for the long-term consequences in terms of the energy efficiency and ‘liveability’ of the project beyond that which he is mandated to provide.

The Conmmunity Land Partnership model is entirely different. The developer does not buy and sell the land but instead acquires shares in the revenues which will flow over time from its successful and sustainable development and operation. The more energy efficient the development, and the better the quality, the less money is necessary to pay for repairs and for heating and the higher the rental value will therefore be. See info here on CLP

Monday, 9 June 2008

What does listing a building really mean?

BHS building above due to be listed by Historic Scotland
The Listed Victorian Canongate Venture building which would be demolished for Caltongate

Princes Street needs to move out of the 60s if it's to survive

Listing the best of a bad bunch will just delay revamp, says Shirley-Anne Somerville.

PRINCES Street is unique. Other European cities might have castles, parks and shops but nowhere are the three brought together in such a dramatic setting. It has attracted visitors to our capital for years and rightly makes Edinburgh residents proud.

But I don't think anyone can deny that our premier street has seen better days. It's been something that has happened slowly, with longstanding businesses moving out and being replaced by amusement arcades and shops blaring out tinny pipe music. Fortunately the council is now getting to grips with the issue. The "String of Pearls" plan will see the street revived. It will take major investment and many years but there is no denying that it is long overdue.So it's disappointing to see a public agency putting this vision under threat.

Historic Scotland has floated the idea that the Princes Street Bhs store be considered for listed building status. If successful it would join the likes of Edinburgh Castle, the Scott Monument and swathes of the Old and New Town.Such a decision has significant implications. It will make it more difficult for a developer to demolish or refurbish the building. It will push up the costs of any redevelopment. It will put investors off getting involved in that section of the street and for what? So we can keep an example of a failed 1960s vision.The council and Scottish Government are already forking out more money to refurbish the Commonwealth Pool than it would have cost to demolish it and start again. Why? Because it's a listed building. Coincidentally, the pool was designed by the architects behind the Bhs building, RMJM – the same people that worked on the Scottish Parliament.

At the same time, Historic Scotland has backed the demolition of other listed buildings as part of the controversial Caltongate development. It's reasoning – Edinburgh has similar buildings designed by the same Victorian architects. Thank goodness we only have one castle if that's their defence of our built heritage.But this is not an argument about traditional architecture good, modern architecture bad.

Although tourists flock to our city to admire the history they also want to experience a vibrant and modern Edinburgh. I just don't think that folk are flocking here to see the Bhs building. My stance will be unpopular with those who view Bhs as one of the best examples of a 1960s building on Princes Street. That may be so, but that's not a reason to hold up the redevelopment of our premier shopping street.

There were many architectural mistakes made in the 60s, from tearing down tenements to demolishing large sections of Princes Street. Let's not compound those errors by hanging on to unwanted buildings just because they are the best of a bad bunch.

Shirley-Anne Somerville is a Lothians MSP This article appeared in todays Evening News
see what else would be lost at

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Radical Walk with Allan Armstrong

12.30 to 2 pm, 8th June 2008, walk through the Old Town meet at Canongate Project, 8 St Mary's Street
Allan Armstrong has taken an interest in the radical history of Scotland and Ireland for most of his life. Allan is a socialist, activist and trade unionist. Allan will look at the role Edinburgh's Old Town played in shaping radical Scotland and the world. From dissident lawyers, dissenters and protesters to riots and marches to Marx and Engels. Allan will explore the graves, lanes and closes of the Old Town taking you on an adventure of protest, declaration and the demand for liberty and equality.

Edinburgh's "radical road" around the crags was built by "radicals" fleeing persecution from the west of Scotland (in the 19th Century) who were given sanctuary and work in the city, the Radical Road was the fruits of their labour.
For a wider view of the radical road click here

NB: The walk will not include a walk up the radical road

Friday, 6 June 2008

Prince Charles and World Heritage Talk Tonight

Free Talk on Edinburgh`s World Heritage Status Tonight Friday 6th June 6pm - 7.30pm at 8 St Mary`s Street, just off the Royal Mile
See Map Contact us on 07788 755303

Talk and discussion with Jane Jackson and David Hicks of The Edinburgh World Heritage Trust. What does World Heritage Status mean to Edinburgh and her residents?

Charles in building projects appeal - Prince Charles in Edinburgh yesterday

The Prince of Wales has called for architects to put beauty at the heart of building projects to create long-lasting communities.

The Malcolm Fraser Building proposed for Jeffrey St as part of Caltongate, above is view of it along East Market Street

He shared his thoughts with an audience - including Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond - at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on how nature should play a central role.
Evoking the World Heritage status of Scotland's capital, Charles, who is known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, said: "Beauty is surely, when you think about it carefully, at the heart of genuine sustainability.

"If something is beautiful you don't want to knock it down."

Above is from top are the beautiful buildings to be knocked down for Caltongate, The Victorian School known as Canongate Venture, The Sailor`s Ark , unique Art Deco and 1930`s Macrae Tenements.

He said Scottish planners could take a leading role in the UK to build ecologically-sound communities - but warned that attitudes must change.

"We live on a very small island on which presumably many generations will want to live," he said.

"So apart from everything else, we need to work out where the water is going to come from in an increasingly uncertain world. We owe it to our children and our grandchildren not to wreck it all."

Charles called for a return to "civil, courteous and well-mannered" architecture and added: "We must rediscover - rapidly - our respect for nature and her universal principles that can give us everlasting inspiration and environmental hope."

He delivered his speech following a presentation by Mr Salmond, MSP for Gordon and MP for Banff and Buchan, at the seminar hosted by the Prince's Foundation. The foundation has contributed to the design of 50 developments during its 10-year history in the UK and overseas.
These include projects at Ballater in Aberdeenshire, Cumnock in Ayrshire, Lincoln city centre, the urban extension of Plymouth, the new town of Coed Darcy on the former BP oil refinery in South Wales and the regeneration of a strife-torn neighbourhood in Kingston, Jamaica.
The Press Association

Monday, 2 June 2008

Awards In Architecture?

Architects refuse to think outside of their ugly concrete boxes

BBC Scotland's new HQ in Glasgow has won a top architectural award. That proves ugliness still triumphs in the weird world of architecture. I reached splutter stage - that shower of toast moment - when I heard of this "achievement".

For the BBC building is a featureless crate dumped on the banks of the Clyde. It is known among staff as "the box the Science Centre came in". Why can't today's architects think outside the box? Boring boxy shapes come in two sizes - either a shoebox of medium height or a high-rise concrete cornflake packet. But the style has changed little since the 1960s, the worst of all design decades. Can't we get away from that?

With architecture, the accepted orthodoxy is to praise the emperor's new clothes in case we are thought to be outdated and unreceptive to new ideas, blah blah. But surely it is these awful monoliths that are outdated? The luvvies at the Royal Incorporation of British Architects have made the BBC box one of the top winners in what they call the "regional" awards - to compete later in London for a "national" award.

FOR those of us who've seen the Beeb box inside, it doesn't improve. The first time I entered, I thought the long overhead walkways built round a central well seemed familiar. Gosh, it's the Barlinnie style, without the charm. All it missed was the rattle of potties as prisoners crossed the walkways, taking their chamber pots to the sluice. Many thought we'd wised up on the grim, ghastly Sixties and Seventies buildings - the only good thing about them is that many are being demolished. We are continuing an obsession to make everywhere look like Slough where, in 1937, Sir John Betjeman foresaw the ugliness which would grip Britain when he wrote: "Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough; it isn't fit for humans now."

But Edinburgh people are putting up a really spirited fight against the new conformity - for most of May there have been protests about developments. Conservation architect James Simpson says: "Edinburgh is at greater risk now than it has been since the 1960s." That's a big statement as the Sixties saw the brutalising of Princes Street and the capital's George Square. The focus of protestors is Edinburgh City Council's decision to approve most of a £300million development of part of the ancient Canongate, involving housing, shops, a hotel and a new public square - and the proposed demolition of a listed old school building.

This very hot brick is now being referred to Scottish Ministers, who already have the Trump row on their plates. But surely the Edinburgh proposals dwarf the stushie about Donald Trump's golfopolis? Trump-town is proposed for an unbuilt part of the Aberdeenshire coast and pastiche architecture is the aim, at least copying quite attractive old styles rather than boxes. In contrast, the "Caltongate" project will be in Edinburgh's UNESCO World Heritage site, close to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The Proposed Caltongate Hotel

The designs look like another Anytown, Anywhere style, the bland and the boxy. The hype for Caltongate exceeds even the usual tripe about "iconic". The developers declare: "Very rarely, a development changes the entire dynamic of a major city. The breadth of vision behind the Caltongate project is stunning . . . it is in total harmony with the commercial life and history of Scotland's capital...." Ga'un yersels! What history could boxes be in harmony with in the ancient Canongate?

Julie Logan, a former town design expert now volunteering with the Canongate Community Forum, told me: "We've seen too many boxes go up in Edinburgh. When the Victorians built on even older sites, they at least retained the Scottish style, with items like crow stepped gables. "This project is just totally unsuitable for old Edinburgh."
TO my mind, the floodgates opened - apr├Ęs moi, le deluge - when the Holyrood building was dumped at the foot of the Royal Mile, a vast daud of concrete incongruously next to the ancient Palace, like a hooker lurking outside a convent. In Aberdeen, the superb Union Terrace Gardens are to have one of those spacecraft style buildings landing on it to create an arts centre. And at Culloden battlefield, the National Trust has come up with uber tosh to hype how the new visitor centre (a collection of boxes) "reinterpreted the landscape".
Maybe we should abandon all architectural awards or let the public judge because we have to walk past the stuff. We could think of new awards - MA for Moderately Awful or BA for Bloody Awful. As the American guru of architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, once said: "The doctor can bury his mistakes but the architect can only advise his clients to plant trees."

By Dorothy-Grace Elder appears today in The Scottish Daily Express

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Radical Canongate - a look at the radical routes of the canongate and Old Town

Radical Canongate by Craig Maclean - Activist, Photographer and Community Artist
7pm - 9 pm 2nd June 2008 at Canongate Project, 8 St Mary's Street, Edinburgh
Craig Maclean will be showing a short film from the 30s, pictures from the Mining Museum and pictures from the Anti-Poll Tax struggle to look at events in the Canongate where people have taken radical action. Craig will introduce lens based recordings of events in the Canongate and discuss the events, possible from personal reminisce and explore the importance of how the Save Our Old Town campaign and Canongate Project is being recorded, and why it's important not to just leave it to the evening news.

12.30 to 2 pm, 8th June 2008, walk through the Old Town meet at Canongate Project, 8 St Mary's Street
Allan Armstrong has taken an interest in the radical history of Scotland and Ireland for most of his life. Allan is a socialist, activist and trade unionist. Allan will look at the role Edinburgh's Old Town played in shaping radical Scotland and the world. From dissident lawyers, dissenters and protesters to riots and marches to Marx and Engels. Allan will explore the graves, lanes and closes of the Old Town taking you on an adventure of protest, declaration and the demand for liberty and equality.

Edinburgh's "radical road" around the crags was built by "radicals" fleeing persecution from the west of Scotland (in the 19th Century) who were given sanctuary and work in the city, the Radical Road was the fruits of their labour.
For a wider view of the radical road click here

NB: The walk will not include a walk up the radical road