Tuesday, 31 March 2009

SOOT meeting Tonight 7pm

"and you can bet your life that the architect lives in a nice little villa in the country"

Architect defends Canongate

A LEADING architect whose firm was involved in the stricken £300 million Caltongate development in Edinburgh's Old Town has launched an outspoken attack on critics of the scheme.
Malcolm Fraser has criticised campaigners for celebrating the demise of developer Mountgrange Capital last week and pledged to confront them at a public meeting tonight.

Mr Fraser was behind one of the most controversial elements of Caltongate – a six-storey landmark blocking one of the best-known views of Calton Hill, from Jeffrey Street. He writes in today's Scotsman : "In a recession, with thousands losing their jobs and homes, the creation of up to 2,000 jobs and around 200 new homes is an odd sort of destruction, and its postponement an odd sort of victory."

He wrote as the council defended its handling of the development, after claims that planning delays caused its collapse last week when Mountgrange went into administration. The scheme was unveiled four years ago. Final plans were lodged in October 2007 and approved by February 2008.

Jim Lowrie, the capital's planning leader, yesterday insisted the city was right to have a "stringent" planning process, adding: "We are responsible for ensuring that the city's character is preserved for future generations."

A special April "NO FOOLS " SOOT meeting is tonight the 1st April 2009 at 7pm in Old Saint Pauls Church Hall, Jeffrey St. Finding Old Saint Pauls

You can read what Malcom Fraser is saying in a piece in todays Scotsman, whcih as from 11.20am you can now read online due to overwhelming demand

Below is Frasers contribution to the project - larger here

the building which would block the view would then only be seen by the people inside the building, who would be no other than architects!!

A poem by Shelley -


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away

Dig for Victory

"To stop food shortages in the Second World War the government encouraged British people to grow their own food and to turn all spare land into allotments. Gardens, flowerbeds and public parks: any available space was used.

"The Meadows, the Edinburgh Meadows was all converted into allotments… you had an area and it was allocated to you and you could grow certain vegetables on it..."
Click on a link to hear the extract: Broadband version --- Dialup version

Friends of The Meadows Association 21st Century

"There were 520 plots on the Meadows, but there were many other areas around Edinburgh that were used as emergency allotments during the war. These included Balgreen Park, Bruntsfield Links, Victoria Park, Joppa Quarry, Meadowbank, Craiglockart, Craigentinny Golf Course, Inverleith Park and many more. "
see more at Edinburgh Living Memory

people are continuing to write to the Republic and the press with ideas of what could happen with the empty site....come along to the SOOT "NO FOOLS" public meeting tomorrow and share yours on the 1st April 2009 at 7pm in Old Saint Pauls Church Hall, Jeffrey St. Finding Old Saint Pauls

Blank canvas

WHAT to do with the Caltongate site? How about some grass seed? We don't need any more hotels, we don't need any more empty office space and we definitely don't need another shopping mall.
George Kerevan (Opinion, 26 March) wrote about Spanish architecture. In every major Spanish city, there are bustling sports centres where kids of all ages play in little local leagues into the night and under floodlights. People from the neighbourhood come along and watch, making for a real social, almost family occasion.

Our town council has talked many times about Edinburgh becoming a Milan or a Barcelona in the north, so do what these cities do – provide civic space. Why not be creative with Caltongate? Landscape it. Put in half-a-dozen five-a-side pitches, tennis courts, swings. It could be a Festival venue, a focal point for the Old Town. We could even put up with another coffee shop. Why have a big black hole in our city when we could have a dear green place?BARRY GARDNER Ferry Road Edinburgh

Monday, 30 March 2009

If only ..............

Unlike a city in China desperate to achieve World Heritage Status which is chopping the tops off skyscrapers, we have been spared this drastic action to preserve our status with the demise of Calotongate. The UNESCO report said to be damning of the proposed project and its handling by the City of Edinburgh Council will be published in a couple of months time.

Read this article written in August 2005 perhaps Caltongate developers Mountgrange should have read it before they arrived in the city the same year

From the article -

"And it isn’t just the residential market that will be in trouble. The commercial property sector also has an ominous feel about it. Speculative skyscrapers are going up as much because of their iconic appearance as for the economics of the tenanted sector, and more and more capital is being tied up in real estate rather than put to work in research and development. All over Europe too, money that should be funding the factories and infrastructure that would raise EU productivity is instead seeking out windfall gains in real estate. This will also end in tears and the net result will be the arrival of recession by 2010, something that may well be aggravated in Britain by a new ‘land tax’."

This great photographic website gives a good overall view of when Mountgrange appeared in 2005

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Oh you with the inflated ego

The following poem is dedicated to many involved in Caltongate and generally in the recent age of greed that is coming to a sticky end. But then every empire has its rise and fall...surely we can learn from our mistakes and starting living in the age of need not greed.

This poem will sadly most probably go over the heads of those who it so aptly applies.

Oh You With The Inflated Ego

Oh you with the inflated ego you feel that you are a true great

An aura of great self importance about yourself you try to create

Your head it seems to keep expanding with conceit you do seem overfull
You do like the sound of your own voice though you do talk a whole lot of bull

You have won for yourself a few admirers though you cannot count me as a fan

There's little that grate on my nerves more than the voice of a loudmouthed man
Oh you with the inflated ego about you it cannot be said

That you are lacking in self confidence or your ego needs to be fed

Your ego tells you how great you are though our egos to us often lie
And your three most important people will always be me, myself and i
You like to boast to other people of your wonderful job and new car

But somehow you cannot convince me of how marvellous a fellow you are

You feel that you are extra special but then your type of person not rare

For the disease that's known as swollen ego is now to be found everywhere.

by Francis Duggan

There is another chance to see the drama NEW TOWN this Thursday, that was shown in February.

Thursday 2nd April, 21:00 on BBC Four
Drama set in Edinburgh's New Town area. Starry architects Purves and Pekkala are offered the chance to redesign a Georgian church, but when the head of Scottish Heritage falls from the church tower in a mysterious accident, it becomes a question of whether he fell or was pushed.

The drama Old Town is still unfolding here in Edinburgh, so come along to A special "NO FOOLS ADMITTED" SOOT meeting on the 1st April 2009 at 7pm in Old Saint Pauls Church Hall, Jeffrey St. Finding Old Saint Pauls

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Caltongate Crash

Collapse of inappropriate development
offers capital a chance to think again

In today`s Scotsman 26 March 2009
Every cloud has a silver lining and the demise of Mountgrange and abandonment of the "Caltongate" development (your report, 24 March) is the most positive outcome so far of the current economic crisis.

Those who opposed this project deserve the thanks of everyone who cares for Edinburgh. Had they not objected so vigorously this project would have advanced further, with listed buildings destroyed and a yawning gap site on the Canongate.

Your editorial (24 March) is wrong to suggest local residents made "impossible" demands. Their principal demand was that the city council respect its own and national policies on conservation and the preservation of listed buildings and the world heritage site.

In a throwback to the discredited policies of the 1960s, council and developer colluded to destroy part of a local community. It is a shameful event in Edinburgh's planning history that, with some honourable exceptions, councillors, MSPs, Historic Scotland and the Scottish Government displayed supine acquiescence and impotence in their dealings with this piece of developmental hubris.

Two things should happen now. The council must immediately re-let all the vacant flats which it still owns in the Canongate. It is completely unacceptable that desirable social housing is being deliberately kept vacant to suit a developer. Tenants should also be found for those commercial properties still owned by the council. (Caltongate developer Manish Chande pays the council rent to keep flats empty, read more)

The council must also declare its intention to produce a revised masterplan for this part of the Old town, using its own resources or employing a respected consultant. In "Caltongate" it has allowed itself to be led ignominiously by the developers. The pernicious practice of allowing developers to produce their own masterplan must not be repeated.

On the other side of the Canongate 20 years ago the city council and its partners produced a masterplan for the Holyrood Road site. That area, a literal stone's throw away, was developed as flats, hotels, offices and cultural attractions such as Dynamic Earth and the Scottish Poetry Library. Views may differ about individual buildings, but few will deny that a genuine mixed development took place on that site which respected the traditional pattern of wynds and closes and at the same time gave expression to innovative architecture.

That is the way forward for the New Street site. The council must take charge, pay heed to its own policies and listen to the local community. ROBERT CAIRNS Ratcliffe Terrace Edinburgh

Here is what they are saying -

The Canongate Project

Canongate Project

Here is the report on the project in a pdf file. It was published in February 2009

A special "NO FOOLS ADMITTED" SOOT meeting is on the 1st April 2009 at 7pm in Old Saint Pauls Church Hall, Jeffrey St. Finding Old Saint Pauls

Come along and get involved, you do not have to live in the Old Town but you do have to care for it

Another letter that also appears in todays Scotsman newspaper-

What a driech front page photograph (24 March) – Edinburgh's centre blitzed by the battle of expansion versus conservation. Or could it look like the blank sheet of opportunity – a space which could be developed to learn new ways of creating more equal prosperity and buildings which enhance life and the landscape without overheating the economy and planet?

Suggestions of temporary landscaping could be the preliminary to more permanently pleasing solutions, if carried out as a well-run co-operative project involving paid workers and volunteers – individual citizens and already formed groups. This would create jobs and increase local spending in the short term, with occupation and livelihood motivating alongside learning. Social enterprise is the current label for the business model. JANE GRIFFITHS Middleby Street Edinburgh

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Future?

What does the future hold now that Mountgrange Capital has gone into administration? A new company with Manish at the helm once again? Check out The Times Rich List 2008 where you will see that Caltongate Developer Manish Chande is at 1118 with a personal fortune of £70m, so we doubt he will be shopping in Lidls anytime soon......just because one of his companies owes £70m?? One such company here (have a sick bag handy for the pics)
For the other couple of dozen or so go here and enter Mountgrange in search box

Catch up on the news with links below - and remember to come along next Wednesday evening to get involved in sustainable future at a Special "No Fools Allowed" SOOT meeting 7pm Old Saint Pauls Church Hall, Jeffrey Street on the 1st April

STV news piece 24th March 2009

BBC TV News Piece 24th March 2009

The Scotsman 25th March 2009

Magnus Linklater The Times Credit Crunch has left Edinburgh Full of Holes 25th March 2009

The Evening News -Editorial 25th March 2009

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The Great Calton & Gate Swindle

There is so much news today, go to google news and enter caltongate, you will see who Mountgrange`s administrators are and their plans to re-invent themselves, any ideas for their future company`s name welcome, and remember to send your caption for the pic of Manish Chande and his spin doctor Mark Cummings below....
BBC and Stv news tonight are covering story.

Caltongate the Movie


"The Developers"

Martin "The Silent One" Myers


Manish "Its a 5 star hotel or nothing" Chande

Manish Chande, aged 51, graduated with a diploma in Accountancy from the City of London Polytechnic in 1975 and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. In 1997, he co-established the Trillium Group and was chief executive prior to its acquisition by Land Securities plc in 2000. Mr. Chande joined the board of Land Securities, before resigning in 2002 to establish Mountgrange Capital plc. Mr. Chande continues to serve as chief executive of Mountgrange. From 1985 to 1997, Mr. Chande worked as chief executive officer at Imry plc, prior to which time he spent four years working at Deloitte Haskins & Sells (Chartered Accountants) London (presently PriceWaterhouseCoopers). Mr. Chande also served as non-executive chairman of National Car Parks plc from 2003 to 2005 and as a non-executive director of MITIE plc from 2003 to 2006 and Property Fund Management plc from 2002 to 2004. In 2003, Mr. Chande was appointed as a Commissioner of English Heritage.


"The Cooncil"

Jenny ""Its grotesque and hideous, lets approve it" Dawe present city leader

Jim "laugh a minute" Lowrie present planning convenor

Donald " How I made Edinburgh"" Anderson, former City Leader, now Director of Mountgrange`s PR firm PPS Group Scotland

Trevor " the finger " Davies, former planning convenor

"The Architects"

Malcolm "heritage bodies are toxic " Fraser

co starrring

Spin Doctor
Mark "Never Beaten PR" Cummings

Ron "rent a gob" Hewitt, Head of Chamber of Commerce

Historic Scotland

Architecture Design Scotland

now they are doon the tubes.........

Monday, 23 March 2009

Caption competion

Do you have a caption for our competion?

The Mark of the Republic

We don't have Zorro in the Independent Republic of the Canongate but we have the next best thing we have a community and people who care - we don't need a masked man (though at times it would have been nice) to humiliate and deal with venture speculative developers, councillors and their officials who were duped by the lies and promises of big business.

Today The Republic heard that Mountgrange Capital has gone down the tubes. Read more here.

Pundits, sycophants and supporters of this Toy Town scheme mocked all of those who raised questions about the financial logic of this development based on ever increasing land prices and free and easy credit from the banking system, once those two things crashed the project was doomed. Caltongate was based on artists impressions of a architect's dystopian fantasy and those architects names must be etched on the tomb of Edinburgh's real disgrace - such as Richard Murphy, Allan Murray and Malcolm Fraser. Hopefully this Shakespearean tragedy will not be replayed over and over again.

The council used public money and council taxes to facilitate a big business plan for yet another Old Town development without looking at the needs and desires of the community.

The protesters and campaigners have been called liars and trouble makers for genuinely raising our concerns about lack of sustainable development and ignoring the community! More links here

Anyway to celebrate the defeat of Caltongate, the Independent Republic of the Canongate have launched a competition.

Do you have a caption for the following? - Manish Chande, Director of Mountgrange with his spin doctor side kick Mark Cummings on hearing today's news. Best caption will be given freedom of the Canongate.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Rotten boroughs

You have to ask - what is the world coming to when our elected representatives are getting themselves arrested due to planning dodginess? Its appears to be endemic! This is not just theft and fraud, its worse that that its corruption.

A West Lothian Councillor's home was raided by Lothian & Borders Police after concerns that he was involved in dodgy planning deals - see here. This councillor was trying to push through planning permission when the officials were against it, you have to ask yourself if he would be investigated if the planning officials agreed with him though? .

It's it not just in Lothian mucho dodginess is going on - but in Budapest in Hungary too. The Mayor of Budapest was arrested alongside others when they sold off the Jewish Quarter of Budapest to be gentrified. There had been much discussion about the Jewish Quarter being dark and dingy (same words used about Canongate) and that there was plenty potential to do it up to be a retail and conference area (same words about the Canongate). After an UNESCO visit it was exposed that the land and buildings were sold "off market" to favoured developers (same as the Canongate) however it was also exposed that fraud was committed. You can read more about it here The buildings that have been genrified have been ordered to be returned to their orginal state and to be returned to the public! The developers are not too happy at all.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Wid ye credit it?

We have had a little break here in the republic from the blog as very busy, but are now back and in the mood for getting things in order. Many exciting things are happening so watch this space.

In the meantime this Thursday get yourself over to the Canongate to a
Wid ye credit it? Making sense of the global
economic crisis.
  • Why has this happened?
  • Who are the winners and losers?
  • What can we do about it?

Everyone’s welcome to attend the FREE public event and have their say after short presentations from various speakers. Everyone will get the chance to share their views, ideas and experiences. No need to book. Just turn up.

Thursday 12th March 2009 7.00pm – 9.00pm
Godfrey Thomson Hall
Moray House School of Education
just off the Canongate (through arch to St John’s Street) opposite the threatened Macrae Tenements

see more at http://egfl.net/activecitizenship/

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

£150 million to build 1300 council homes

Doozers doing their thing

At long last - after a generation of not building homes the council is to build and manage council homes, please can the houses be family sized homes, three and four bedroom (even bigger for some families) as they are much needed. Read more here

Council - please note that in the republic, that there is land in the Old Town crying out for housing and with planning permission too and belongs to the council e.g. Calton Road (and more but you could start here).

Hopefully the council will work with communities to build homes they need with the infrastructure required so mistakes of the 60s and 70s are not replicated.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Latest addition to Murrayburgh Unveiled

"Crivens! help ma boab! Och, it will only last 40 odd years like the other piece of mince that was there before, lets hope they hae more sense the next set of mortals " David Hume on seeing the latest Allan Murray on the corner of George IV Bridge and Lawnmarket which he looks out onto.

Having a lie down now in the republic, as later in day to get to car boot sale we have to walk through the Allan Murray Quarter. The Omni and the Cube in the making with thoughts of the carnage when they replace the eyesore St James Centre with another.