Friday, 31 October 2008

Resisting Regenicide/Happy Samhainn

Happy Samhainn


“Our relationship to the built environment is perhaps the most crucial element to the quality of community life.”

GLASGOW EVENT 1.00–5.00pm Saturday 1 November CCA, 350 Sauchiehall St, CCA Glasgow

EDINBURGH event - Sunday 2 November 7.00–9.30pm The Forum : ACE, 17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh, EH7 5HA The Forum MAP

Discussions bringing together representatives of community & activist groups - including local groups from Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and Manchester - to share their experience of community-based engagement in the planning processes of urban regeneration and the built environment.In the British-wide context of gentrification, and with a failing neo-liberal economic model, questions surrounding the ownership and management of social space have never been more relevant.

The language of regeneration in fact sugar-coats the reality of gentrification: the privatisation of essential infrastructure is a policy of liberating the forces of greed.It is important to remember that "ideas have consequences", and important to question what happens when these are tested in the real world.

In response, we need better ideas and solidarity strategies. The worsening financial crisis provides the public with an opportunity to redefine what constitutes 'the public interest' and to reassert its claims over how finance should be managed and allocated and in whose interest.Film excerpts will be used to inform the discussions: a strong dimension connecting the diverse groups is their shared interest in an engaged film making practice as a basis for connecting people.

People attending include -
Anthony Iles - Mute - MUTE
Mark Saunders - The Spectacle - The Spectacle
Martin Slavin - Games Monitor - Games Monitor
Neil Gray - Variant - Variant
Save Our Old Town - Save Our Old Town

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Anti-Heritage Meeting as Caltongate Grinds to a Halt?

News has reached the Republic that a well known Edinburgh architect is to host an anti-world heritage conference when delegates from UNESCO visit the capital.
Caltongate Developer`s Myers and Chande

In The Scotsman today-
"Among projects facing delay are the long-awaited replacement for Meadowbank Stadium, an extension to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and the massive Caltongate development in the Old Town"

Could it be one of the two architects involved in Caltongate who is organising the anti-world heritage conference?

Architects Hit back in UNESCO Row

Malcolm Fraser?

This month, Fraser attended The Cockburn`s annual lecture with Prof. Herb Stovel, where he sat with his head in his hands, not looking his normal cheery self....but perhaps he was uncomfortable, hardly surprising when he has openly referred to The Cockburn Association as the Toxic Wing of the Heritage Lobby...

Allan Murray?

or could it be the Haymarket`s Richard Murphy ?

Murphy has spoken of UNESCO being the "Conservation Mafia"

"What is Unesco? Who is Unesco? My experience of Unesco is some brand, a conservation mafia. I’ve quickly come to the conclusion that conservation architects have an exceptionally limited view of the world and architecture within it."

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Fit for Future?????

Council spiv, selling off the land and buildings of Edinburgh - the City of Edinburgh Council school of economics

The council's plan to cash in on the family silver by selling off it's land and properties to developers looks like its in trouble. The council are looking at a £20 million shortfall! They hoped to raise £43 million by selling land and property but with land and property values plummeting like a stone they appear to have lost out. See article here.

The council's only plan appeared to be sell, sell, sell but it's got to a peak land position - there is not enough land to sell and not enough value in the land.

The council needs to develop it's own land - build affordable homes particularly council housing. The council basically has given away land to attract developers - Waverley Market, last value was £40 million - what does the council get £1 a year in rent (if it chooses to collect the rent) for the next 200 years!!! Selling land in off market deals as in the land earmarked for Caltongate.

There needs to be a plan NOT based on selling off land and property but based on developing the city in a suistainable way so it will quite literally fit for future!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

What does Edinburgh mean to you?

Edinburgh World Heritage Trust are currently asking people the question

what does Edinburgh mean to you?”

Adam Wilkinson says
"There have been some excellent responses to date, from the likes of Prof Tom Devine, David Steel, Griff Rhys Jones and Carol Hogel."

in his Director Notes this month

So do tell them what the capital means to you, whether as a resident or as a visitor – email them

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Credit Crunch biting in Edinburgh

The Independent Republic is full of jolly souls and we don't want to be like Cassandra of Greek Tragedy but we want to know what the city is planning for the recession.

We are being told that the average salary is reducing in Edinburgh and firms are cutting back on their staff particularly solicitors selling houses, builders and architects even award winning Malcolm Fraser had to let staff go in August according to reports in the Evening News.

Malcolm Fraser's design for Market Street/Jeffrey Street

What plans do the council have for the credit crunch or to be precise the recession that is coming? There is a plan to build up to 7000 new affordable homes see here but when will they get built? Affordable homes are what is needed in Edinburgh not empty luxury apartments as suggested by Mountgrange. It appears that Mountgange did not acquire the land on Calton Road where the affordable housing is to go meaning they are not working to their Section 75 agreement, to build 25% of social housing on the site. When will the affordable housing on Calton Road be built?

Meanwhile the Waterfront is not doing very well, the land has decreased from £32 million to £14 million in 6 years and the development won't be ready until 2023, one of the builders has gone bust and the developers can't sell the houses. What's the council's plan? To offer loans to those who find it difficult to get a mortgage and sell them a Waterfront home at a "fair price" (but if the houses are not "sellable" then they are not worth anything!). The council is also toying with removing Section 75s from developers so they do not have to build social housing, roads, infrastructure etc etc to encourage further development.

There's also worries that Edinburgh Airport might decrease because of the crisis' in the banks read here.

So with the Waterfront Development slowing down and Edinburgh Airport shrinking (if reports are to be believed) why are we having a tram from the Waterfront to the Airport at a cost of more that half a billion pounds???

We need a sustainable plan for Edinburgh - a plan that ensures that everyone has a home, access to schools that are not overcrowded, a transport system that does not grind to a halt and has a sustainable future to meet the needs of everyone in the need not just the rich and greedy. Is there anyone out there with such a plan?

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Disney Status For Capital?

Even with Disney Status, the ubiquitous Edinburgh Scaffolding
Danger of Capital being made into a Disney production

ON THURSDAY Professor Herb Stovel gave the Cockburn Association's annual lecture, this year entitled Keeping the Faith in World Heritage, in which he made many salient points with regard to recent planning decisions made within Edinburgh and how he perceives their impact upon the Outstanding Universal Values that Edinburgh embodies.

Intriguingly, he made the statement that Edinburgh was of a sufficient size to cope with the increased number of visitors associated with WHS, yet failed to make the connection with the three controversial developments – Caltongate, Haymarket and St James Centre – being proposed to house these visitors.

The pursuit of increased tourist numbers is what threatens the OUV. While UNESCO's prime concern may be keeping the city looking pretty, this resident's concern is for their life in the city.

All new large developments are primarily hotel accommodation – aside from the big three already mentioned two hotels are proposed for Princes Street with talk of a third one in the West End; the Cowgate fire site is proposed to become a hotel and both sides of Waterloo Place are either hotel or serviced apartments. So what future for the real people? Bussed and trammed in from outlying districts to serve the tourist core?

The Old Town once boasted a fantastically egalitarian mix and we need provision to be made for young and growing families on modest salaries within the city centre unless we are to become a Disney version of a living city.

Letter to Evening News 20 October 2008

Friday, 24 October 2008

Transistion Towns

Went to a great workshop last week on Transition Towns - find out more here - how does a community plan for climate change and peak oil? I wonder how the Independent Republic would make such plans? Perhaps we would recycle and reuse the buildings of the Canongate that are being left to rack and ruin or waiting for the death penalty for a crime they did not commit - being old and ugly.

Perhaps on the demolition site of the old bus garage we would build sustainable social housing with green space to grow things. We would open up the council housing in the Canongate again for rent perhaps making one into a community flat. We could put planters in the land that is not in use - bottom of Cranston Street - on top of the Market building, around Canongate Venture. We could use the grant from the DTI to utilise the underground source heating for everyone. We would campaign for better bus routes around the city centre connecting houses with shops, perhaps we would open up a community shop and cafe with a food co-op.

What we don't think would be needed is more concrete (concrete contributes to 7-10% of CO2), a five star hotel and a blinking conference centre.

Anyway there were just some of the citizen's of the Independent Republic's ideas - perhaps the Old Town could look at Transition Towns for inspiration.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Atlast - it's time for the Time Ball

The Big Lottery and Edinburgh's World Heritage Trust are to repair the time ball on top of the monument on Calton Hill - it's not gone up and down down at 1 O Clock for nearly two years. Read more here

See the ball here

What is the time ball - find out more here

The Independent Republic hopes this has been an interesting and informative experience for you and we look forward to once again looking out of our windows at 1 O Clock and to see the time ball fall like a stone.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Keeping the Faith in World Heritage

Above the Osbert Lancaster cartoon was signed off 29 years ago tomorrow, could have been today somewhere in an office in Edinburgh ...
Professor Stovel is one of the world's leading experts on conservation matters and assessed the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh for UNESCO World Heritage site status in 1995.

Tonight he is giving the The Cockburn Annual Lecture Keeping the Faith in World Heritage: Issues and Challenges
at the Edinburgh College of Art, Main Lecture Theatre 18:30 - 20:30
Cockburn Association

Listen to the Professor , one of the world’s leading authorities on conservation matters, in discussion with the EWH Chairman Professor Charles McKean last year on …What makes Edinburgh distinctive and how does it compare with other World Heritage cities?
Hear Listen to the Podcast

All cartoons are by Osbert Lancaster who is being currently celebrated in an exhibition in London see More here

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

What are Edinburgh Council up to?

Want to know who your council is awarding contracts to?
How much is spent on advertising by the Police?

What plans are in place for motorway upgrades near your house?

A definitive Freedom of Information site will help you make Freedom of Information requests FOIs and read all about what other people have been asking, and what replies they've been getting.

You can even subscribe to email alerts when other people ask about things you're interested in. What do they know - Edinburgh Council

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Temper, temper!

It has been reported to the Independent Republic that a certain spin doctor was like Rumpelstiltskin the other day because of what was said on this blog - very grumpy and very cross - about a source stating that Mountgrange were pulling out. The Independent Republic were only reporting what we were told!

Now please remember what happened to Mr R when he didn't get his own way - he stamped his foot so hard he fell into a chasm - perhaps it would be the big hole left when Caltongate have to walk away from the Caltongate site!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Recession Proof Caltongate

Caltongate is recession proof, so much so it is going to be "Depression" themed. Most of the building`s facades to be retained are from the 1930`s.

The Old Sailor's Ark, funded by a benefactor to house sailors in need built 1936 by architects Tarbolton & Ochterlony.

This will be home to "Let Them Eat Cake" a soup kitchen themed restaurant in the French Hotel Group Accor`s Five Star Caltongate hotel. The hotel is rumoured to be having an overall French nautical and "1930`s styling throughout.

The Macrae Tenements part of the hotel were built during the 1930`s to house the ordinary working person. Rooms will pay homage to the previous council tenants, aptly named and with a small plaque telling guests about who slept there in the past.

The Victorian school building known as The Canongate Venture is to be completely demolished for the hotel`s conference centre.
A source close to the project said - it is only right that we pay our respects to the poor and needy children who must have benefited from this sandstone school board building by (Robert Wilson 1901)
Neither are we forgetting the many businesses that have been tenants in its final use as a small business start up venture, provided by the council.
Perhaps Canongate Books and Birlinn press can help with ideas, but one so far is having quirky Girls and Boys entrance doors to the building.

The source added that lip service will be paid to the Patrick Geddes guy, perhaps the roof terraces on the conference centre, will be named after him, as after all he encouraged the poor folk of the Old Town to garden, didn`t he?

Monday, 6 October 2008

Council Denies Credit Crunch Happening

"Latest Council Meeting"

With TV programmes showing such as "Repossession, Repossession, Repossession", "Property Snake", and " How little is your house worth now?" the City of Edinburgh Council are clearly not living on the same planet as the rest of us, but neither are their pals in the property business.....Edinburgh Revamp Still On

Most disturbing is that they are not content with cloning the city, they have started cloning themselves.

"City leaders say the projects will create a "modern 21st century capital city in which to live, work, invest and visit".

Now what is wrong with " Edinburgh is a beautiful historical city, a vibrant 21st century capital which people can live and work in , and people enjoy visiting and doing business in"