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