Thursday, 26 November 2009

New Old Town Trust Meeting Tonight

The Mock funeral for Venice

The republic were sent this Press release from the new Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust, lets hope it can make a difference..get along there tonight if you can, its stopped raining...
Will a New Community Trust Help Stop Edinburgh's Old Town from Dying?

This is one of the questions that the newly established Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust , will be asking at its first public meeting this Thursday 26th November at Augustine United Church, George IV Bridge from 7.30pm

Catriona Grant a local resident and director of the trust, said today "Last week in Venice the last remaining long term residents held a mock funeral to dramatise the flight of residents from their city's heart. We may be holding one here soon, if we do not take action now. Like the Venetians we need affordable and also non HMO sized family housing, which encourages people, especially families, to stay or move into the area. Like Venice, prices are steep in the historic centre, and many landlords demand much more money, by advertising over the Internet to short stay visitors than long-term rentals to residents."

She added "We however as residents then have to live with the consequence of these which are often large hen and stag parties. We have become unpaid concierges and are disturbed at all hours, it is only because of a loophole in the law that they are turning the Old Town into one big unregulated hotel. There are health and safety issues that no one has addressed yet, as well as the obvious almost daily loss of long term inhabitants, with the knock on effect of losing local shops and perhaps even the last remaining school, along with other vital community facilities which ensure a living neighbourhood."

Sean Bradley, a director of the trust and Chair of the Grassmarket Residents' Association said today

"A community's greatest asset is its residents. The Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust is an historic opportunity for the people of the Old Town to shape its future for the benefit of all - that means improving opportunities and the quality of life for everyone"

Last year's community research, The Canongate Project , showed that more support and facilities are needed for the residential population if a ‘living city’ is to be maintained in the Old Town. The research also highlighted the need for affordable housing, family sized homes, a better mix of local shops, community facilities, play space, public toilets, safe and usable green public space, along with residents having a say in future developments in the Old Town.

The meeting is to include discussion on the trusts possible projects and Ian Cooke, Director of The Development Trusts Association Scotland will give an introduction to the fast growing network of development trusts across Scotland, and highlight the real differences they are making to the communities in which they are based.

Catriona ends “So we are urging those who live in the area and outwith to come along and become a member of the trust. Help shape the future projects and the role the trust can play in an area, which is becoming increasingly dominated by tourism and the night-time economy often at the expense of those who call it home”

Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust Meeting Details -
The Public Meeting of The newly formed Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust which also covers the Dumbiedykes area is on

Thursday 26th November `09 Augustine United Church

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Head of Planning to be investigated on Trump Application

"It is understood the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) could meanwhile launch an investigation into Aberdeenshire Council’s most senior planner.
The RTPI is examining a complaint from former member Bob Marshall, of Glasgow, claiming that planning director Christine Gore failed to act with integrity and independence while handling the Trump Organisation’s application."

and it reported that

"Almost three-quarters of Scots oppose using compulsory purchase orders to pave the way for the Trump golf resort, according to research.
A YouGov poll has revealed that 74% were against the use of the powers to help the tycoon buy more land for the £1billion complex at the Menie Estate at Balmedie.
Just 13% supported the idea."

so perhaps there is some justice and integrity left in our wee country?

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Andrew Holmes slates UNESCO

The former director of city development who is out to pasture in Perthshire, continues letter writing

His latest letter below is in today's Guardian -

"Jonathan Glancey in his article refers to the Caltongate development in Edinburgh. This involved the demolition of a disused bus garage on the site of a former gasworks, a 1950s council car park and a turn of the 19th-century former school. Only the school had any statutory listing, and that the lowest category, and its removal was agreed by Historic Scotland. The whole development conformed to long-established and sensitive height limits for the area and would have created a powerful regeneration focus.

I was the then director of development for the city of Edinburgh council throughout the planning process up to the recommendation to grant consent and the endorsement of that recommendation by the council planning committee. At no time in that process did Unesco approach me or seek to obtain any meaningful information regarding the proposals. The concept of world heritage sites is eminently supportable. The policing by a self-appointed elite with communication limited to its own coterie is not. The failure to proceed with the development is, like so many others, down to the market and not the views of Unesco."

Andrew Holmes
Pitlochry, Perthshire

Now I wonder if Mr Holmes can help answering these questions? Now he's got so much free time on his hands...
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 Partywhich 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

. 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 developmentMountgrange`s Manish Chande is head of their property portfolio group see page 4 of their magazineChambers Magazine and in Evening News Today Ron Hewitt of Chambers Roots For Caltongate

Friday, 13 November 2009

Down Memory Lane

Yes, it was a year ago that the UNESCO delegation visited our fine city, in this weeks Guardian there is an article looking at Bath and her struggle to keep her outstanding universal values in the face of the onslaught of inappropriate development. Article here

The following is from the piece on Edinburgh

Dresden proves that Unesco has teeth; the city's loss of status may well affect tourist revenue and inward investment. And this year, a Unesco report on Edinburgh (its Old and New Towns have heritage status), has prompted the collapse of two new developments: a 17-storey hotel, and Caltongate, a complex incorporating a hotel, conference centre, 200 flats and offices, which would have entailed the demolition of listed buildings. True, the recession has played a part, too: the developer for Caltongate, Mountgrange Capital, has gone into receivership. But if the development has been knocked on the head, Unesco has played its part.
BBC piece here from March 2009 Caltongate Developers in administration

Friday, 6 November 2009

Architects Awarding Other Architects

One of the shortlisted below... Yes its that time of the year again, like Christmas you can't escape....The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland has shortlisted 11 buildings for its eighth annual contest.
We don't have time on this busy Friday here in the republic to write anymore, but instead think this sums up what we we think and could not put it better ourselves..

Ego of an architect
By Chris Schuler source here

Poor old Norman Foster. As my colleague Adrian Hamilton reports, the great architect has to go to China to find people who appreciate his genius and won't tie him up with tiresome planning regulations.

For another example of the bone-headed hubris of the celebrity architect, look no further than Richard Rogers’ website, and its description of his Coin Street scheme. Back in the early Eighties, Rogers proposed to demolish most of the buildings on London’s South Bank between Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges, and replace them with a 20-storey office block and a chain of shopping malls.

The scheme was successfully resisted by local residents backed by the then leader of the GLC, Ken Livingstone (before his conversion, as London Mayor, to the cult of the skyscraper). Had Rogers’ plan gone ahead, the Oxo Tower and Gabriel’s Wharf would have disappeared, and there can be little doubt that similar development would have taken place east of Blackfriars Bridge, with the result that we would have no Tate Modern and no Shakespeare’s Globe. One of the most charming and best-loved corners of central London, which attracts millions of visitors a year, would be a glass and steel wasteland. But Rogers still doesn’t get it. His website laments the failure of “one of the great unbuilt schemes of modern London”. No doubt a bit of Chinese-style planning would have seen off those Nimbys in short order.

The trouble with modernist architecture is that it one of the failed utopias of 19th-century central European intellectualism - just like communism, in fact. Walter Gropius, trapped in a collapsed building during the First World War, associated the decorative exuberance of 19th-century architecture with the hypocrisy and decadence that gave rise to the war. In its place, he would establish a new purity in which ornament was banished in favour of the lofty interplay volume and form. This utopia might never have got of the ground had Gropius’s protégé Mies van der Rohe not fled to the USA to establish what became known as the International School, happily meeting the developers’ need for maximum floor space at minimum cost, and their clients’ desire to flaunt their corporate machismo with massive steel and glass erections.
Like all utopian projects, modernist architecture is fundamentally authoritarian, informed by top-down planning, an excessive love of order and an almost pathological hatred for the higgledy-piggledy, organic growth that characterises all well-loved cityscapes.

In the 1920s, le Corbusier planned to demolish the entire Marais district of Paris; after gravitating to the extreme right during the 1930s, he worked for Petain’s Vichy regime. What it refuses to acknowledge is that most people find blank surfaces alienating. Put them in a minimalist masterpiece by Erno Goldfinger, and they’ll head straight down to B&Q for a fanlight door and some fake leaded windows. The architects bewail popular taste, just as communists attributed their failure to capture the hearts and minds of the workers to “false consciousness”. That is why modernism has left a legacy of failed housing projects and urban blight

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Dear Santa....

It`s that time of year again, the children are asking if it`s time to write to Santa today's Scotsman the Haymarket Howler architect is already trying to get his demands in early. With a new arrival at the Cockburn Association, Santa and his little helpers in the council may not be able to give him what he wants. And he will have this former judge to hold him to account once again...

We thought we could help out with fulfilling not only this architect`s wants this Christmas but help all those in crisis with no real buildings to knock down, lives to upset and big phallic ugly high rise towers to build in this recession.

So for all you wee boys and girls, you know who you all - you architects, you developers, you in the Chamber of Commerce, you in the council planning and others departments, you in the government, you the PR Spin doctors, even you American tycoons (though there may not be a unspolit stretch of coastline on the board for grabs) here`s something to keep you all happy from Santa this year, you can even play online....while we can all sleep soundly in our beds...and with a tag line of

“Property Empire Building on an Unimaginable Scale”
we should have a little rest from their greedy nonsense demands on our city