Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Scottish developments are so great!

You know, I'm just sitting here on Boxing Day with my Santa hat on thinking about all the good laughs we used to have at this time of year before my wife left me for a younger man. But I like to be a positive person as you know and my mind has turned to some of the truly great things I have seen this year on my visits to important ground-breaking developments around Scotland.

It's hard for me to choose my favourite as there have been so many great new developments over the past few years. Here is a short list of the greatest ever projects according to me:

1) Glasgow Harbour
2) Ravenscraig
3) The big Tesco at Port Glasgow
4) X-scape and Ferry Village at Braehead
5) The Factory Outlet at Gretna on the Scottish Border

I may add more when I think of them. For now, Glasgow Harbour is the leader. I was there back during the summer on a wee boat trip down the river. I was completely bowled over by the quality of the architecture and the fact that it must be like having your own wee Scottish Castle - you know what I mean? You're completely isolated there with no shops or local facilities to attract neds and women of the night. You could walk out onto your balcony with nothing on if you wanted to. It looks really great too - see the wee photie I took from the boat, and notice especially the wee parkland on the left where all the seagulls live. That will be the biodiversity angle - clever.

So full marks to Clydeport for this great innovative development! I wish I could afford to live there! Today I am so proud to be a town planner!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Project Scotland is great!

You know I got a lovely wee surprise this morning when I opened the mail. Project Scotland have sent me a Year Planner for 2008 with my personal copy of the news magazine. It looks great! It's got lots of nice wee adverts round the sides of the calendar - I'm looking forward to 2008 already so that I can put it up on my wall and make my workmates really jealous.

You know a lot of planners spend their lives in local government drinking tea and going on long site visits to run up the car mileage. They are scum compared to the people that are featured in my favourite wee magazine. I'm a bit envious of all these nice men in their safety helmets posing for the camera beside their great projects but my day will come! It's only a matter of time before they seek me out here at my highland empire. I'm sure some of the suits these folk wear are really expensive. I assumed that they would be from Marks & Spencer but somebody said there was a place in Glasgow called Slaters that all the toffs go to. That must be really expensive!

Anyway - must dash. Thanks Project Scotland for your inspiring and beautiful magazine!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Christmas is coming!

our headquarters
The first falls of snow here remind us all that Christmas is coming soon and that the season of goodwill is at hand. This is not at all obvious to the local populace who are clearly victimising me by writing things about me and my company on one of the old buildings opposite our offices. I will rise above it of course.

You know, people have criticised me for not talking enough about the great work that we do here in Auchterness and our plans for the future. They say I am too negative about planning and too critical of the strutting pompous peacocks that run the show from their luxury offices in London. I give you my word that I will try to include more genuine planning information in these letters to you.

However I must say I was furious to read the begging letter received from our leaders recently seeking re-election to the boys club. The same old names - the same old faces. Not one of them could tell one volume housebuilder from another - believe me. One of those seeking re-election wrote a quite laughable statement about a building block that had lost its cutting edge. Since when does a building block have a cutting edge? As well as that, the building block was to be the 'keeper of the flame'. Wee Heather could write better than that - what a terrible example to set for those poor hopeless souls who are thinking about becoming planners. Just when the rest of us are thinking of becoming estate agents, property developers or something equally useful.

By the way, talking of wee Heather, here's a picture of the nice wee cake that I left on her desk yesterday. Nice isn't it?

Saturday, 3 November 2007

£300 Membership Renewal Scandal

Somebody sent me this by email the other day - great isn't it? I've just received my membership renewal for the year and I'm absolutely furious. I could go out and get drunk right now I'm so fed up with this. As you know, the President was here the other day in his expensive Marks and Spencers suit and drip-dry shirt - the kind you have to wear when you stay in hotel rooms all the time, watching porno films when you're away from the wife. And that Land Rover wasn't cheap though I suspect they bought it second hand from one of the former colonies - that would be typical of the Institute. But we poor members end up paying for their excesses.

Somebody was saying to me the other day that the standard of planning in this country was getting worse and worse. New recruits straight from planning schools who can't write in English or spell. Housebuilding run riot, crime on the increase, shopping centres decaying not to mention foot and mouth disease and bluetooth. Planners getting backhanders and payoffs to ease development through and widespread flooding of new homes. Ten women pregnant after the Summer School. And they want to charge me £300 for a year of their boring magazine and being patronised by that idiot of a President in his ridiculous chain of office.

I think I'll become an architect. People hate architects even more than planners but at least I would know that I was right all the time instead of being unsure - they get a decent magazine too. Okay I feel better now - everywhere I look there is a better future for me than being a planner. Even becoming a trainee manager at Halfords would be better.

Friday, 2 November 2007

The President's visit

Yesterday we had a visit from the President of our Institute. Like so many of my fellow members, I did not know his name and can't remember it even now. It's like the Lone Ranger perhaps - no one knows who he is. Personally I have no idea why he came. That's Hamish from the office sitting on the back - they asked him to get off later.

The villagers were gathered around the new toilet block to welcome him and the kids were marched out of school to wave flags and cheer. He arrived in an open topped Land Rover. It was a good move as an ordinary car would have needed to be towed up the road to here as we still haven't settled our dispute with the contractor. Nevertheless I was reminded of one of these trips that the Royals make to patronise natives in foreign lands.

He asked me if I had come far and I wondered if he knew anything at all about the important work we are doing here. I asked him if it was possible to get a reduced membership fee for working in such stressful and difficult circumstances but he didn't even reply.

I tell you. if we had had a bit more time some of us might have pushed his Land Rover into the loch. What a waste of space he is.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Another great idea for town planners

planners enjoying a nice bit of CPD
I'm away for the weekend for a bit of CPD - Continuous Professional Development. It's a sort of holiday break that we planners are forced to take every few weeks so that we don't get over-tired with the strain of work.

A friend of mine who works for a Council in England had to do two days CPD in Newcastle. He had saved up for a while and really pissed it all up the wall when he got there. I'm not condoning that sort of behaviour but it really sounded like a great couple of days. He still managed to get the certificate from the people who were running the sessions - after all they don't really care if people turn up or not as long as they get the big bucks from employers. It's a big earner for these training companies and a holiday for us planners - great. So well done - whoever thought this one up is a genius.

Friday, 26 October 2007

I want to be a consultant

You know, one of the many problems with this job is the fact that I don't get any respect from people. I am talented, interesting and committed to my work and despite the departure of my wife some years ago to set up house with a much younger man, I can still hold my head high.

I was out for a walk last night - just down to the ferry when a young man rushed past me on his bicycle shouting, "Dave Thomson is a wanker - all planners are wankers!" It was just Hamish from the office but it made me think. What if I had been driving a Porsche or a Mercedes like all consultants have? Somebody told me that they leave their good cars a few miles away and get taxis or the bus into Auchterness so that people won't think they are earning too much money.

We had a guy up from one of the big consultancies last week. You know, I'm sure he wanted to employ me although he probably felt I was looking for a job with him. Nobody would call him a wanker - that's for sure. I'm sure he was wearing a Marks and Spencer suit - really classy. I think that's my future and I feel warm and happy when I think about how people will start to respect me as a top town planner.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Happy and proud to be a town planner

A very exciting thing happened today. At our monthly community workshop, the local children produced some new ideas for the future of the town. The kids used a bit of old concrete wall down at the ferry terminal to sketch out their ideas. It wasn't long before this was vandalised of course and you can see the result above. Actually I think one of the kids did this when we weren't looking but I'm not sure.

Anyway you can see a lot of great things here - a big red telephone kiosk that tapers towards it's base - great idea! Two multistorey blocks of flats just like Le Corbusier used to do - fantastic! The church is something that nobody around here has thought about - but we will see! You know, with all the worries about the green belt, mobile phones, religion and cycling it's just so appropriate that these kids have dealt with these issues - brought them out into the open for discussion. We couldn't have done much better!

I'm proud to be a town plannner today and happy to serve this vibrant new community.

Monday, 22 October 2007

One of my proudest moments

I have no idea how many of you know this (well news travels fast in the outback - ha ha only joking) but I was interviewed by Building in Scotland magazine the other day. For those of you from other lands, Building in Scotland is a lovely wee magazine that comes out every now and again. It always has a really nice cover and is printed on shiny paper. Very posh!

I was featured in the "Interview with..." section. Here is a little preview of some of the questions and answers:

David Thompson is Secretary of one of the UK's leading regeneration companies and is responsible for the planning and construction of Auchterness. He spoke to Emma Smith about his career achievements.

BiS: Tell me about you - your background, qualifications and why you went into this job?
DT: Well, I was brought up in a lovely wee house in Lenzie with two brothers and a dog. They always picked on me and one day they even tied me to the school railings - ha ha. I am a qualified town planner and I got my degree at Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee. It was there that I realised I was on a planning course instead of the fabric design course I thought I had enrolled in. I joined Auchterness by accident too - I was on a CPD trip here and never left.
BiS: What's been the proudest moment - personal and professional?
DT: My first date with a girl was quite important to me personally as most of my school pals thought I was one of them - if you know what I mean. Professionally I think this interview is the pinnacle of my career. It's great to be recognised as a significant mover and shaker - I can't wait to see it in print.
BiS: Who would be your ideal dinner guests?
DT: Well first of all my wife who actually left me some years ago. Then I think Richard Branson who is a total rocker by the way, wee Heather from the village who helps out around the office, Betty one of the Arriva bus drivers. I would like to invite Jennifer Aniston too. I think she and my wife would get on really well.

So it sounds pretty interesting I think. My career is going to rocket after this and I may be head-hunted by other organisations. I'll let you know.

Meanwhile I'm going to sign off with one of these disgraceful and disrespectful pieces of vandalism - this time on our own building. We have announced a reward for information leading to the conviction of this person.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

An apology - I was drunk

I'm absolutely horrified to read my last post and I feel that I must prostrate myself before you all. I think the pressure to make a success of this job just became too much and losing the Draft Annual Report was the last straw. A lot of people think town planners don't take their jobs seriously and spend large proportions of their days in the toilet reading the Daily Record or going on shopping trips to nearby towns and claiming the car mileage back. Well that doesn't happen here - in any case, the office only gets the Sun. There is a prevailing atmosphere of disrespect for what we do with our partners in the development industry - just look at this latest outrage below.

Do these people not realise that our intentions are fair and honourable? This is the site adjacent to the successful public toilet pump priming development that was opened during the summer - we had to fence it off to make it look less like a picturesque field with sheep grazing in it.

Anyway look, I'm really sorry about the last post - I would delete it if I knew how to. Apologies to all the people I might have offended - the English, arty folk, photographers, pigs and any other person or thing that was disappointed by my drunken ramble.

Misunderstandings and problems

You know I've just lost the entire Draft Annual Report. I don't know what happened - it just disappeared. I've been working all day on this and it has just gone. Perhaps we need to reformat the hard drive or at least reinstall Word - I'll get Heather on to that when she's finished feeding her donkey. I was just typing 'building value' and the whole thing just crashed. You know there was a guy in here the other day looking at the server and he just laughed. I mean why can't we just get this sorted out?

While I'm here, some arty photographer guy gave me this the other day - see above. He had some idea that Auchterness could look a bit like this after we were finished. What a load of rubbish - there are already enough pigs in the streets here and I'm not talking about the four-legged kind. Our new town will not be a pigsty! My God! Our heroes would turn in their graves - Patrick Geddes, Ebenezer Howard, Le Corbusier, Josef Stalin, George Wimpey deserve better than this slap in the face!

I was speaking to the Chief Planner the other day and he said it might be easier just to close and move to Glasgow. Well that is a point of view but as I was saying to a government minister the other day, we can't just walk away. This isn't the first time this has happened and often when you type something in Word and you get to the second line, the machine just hangs. We're supposed to be a professional office and Doug Harper of course is a strong player now that the Chief Planner has sided with him. But the quality isn't there at the moment. Do you know that we only have one width of masking tape here? In Glasgow I've heard that you can get two widths and in London maybe three or four. I was out for a drink with the Laird's daughter last night and I told her about the new settlement proposal in more detail and how it is an ideal platform for a developer led consortium that actually taps into the value gradient inherent in the Scottish housing market. Why aren't we doing that?

What's happening with other new settlements? Why doesn't someone tell me? I asked Heather to find out more about who rang the door bell the other morning. You know other offices have a proper doorbell that people can use and people do use it - much more than up here where they just wander in with their muddy feet. I've asked Heather to send a Powerpoint presentation to the Scottish Government explaining things. You know we keep coming across the same problems everywhere I go. The trouble is that people just don't listen to me. We have the plumbers in the office at the moment - we need electricians. I asked Heather to make sure that she let them in before she left but - well I don't know what happened - I was struggling to find this file on the computer but Groupwise told me that it wasn't configured for that. I'm really struggling with Groupwise at the moment. You see the Chief Planner doesn't understand what the problem is and we need to refocus on some of the issues here and he is just manipulating things. I had lunch the other day with Alex Salmond. Did you know that he is now First Minister? I just found out about that the other day but apparently it happened in May. Why doesn't anyone tell me these things - because if I had known, I would have been able to help.

Anyway where is that bottle?

Bad behaviour but good plans

It's a few months since my first post back in May and I must admit I keep forgetting how to do this. I'm happy to say that we were very lucky to employ a very attractive young lady called Heather who is good with computers. She's also quite spunky and helps me out with a number of other things too.

Anyway I have to report more bad behaviour in the Single Enterprise Area. One of the sailors off one of the Russian trawlers had given Heather's brother a poster of an American Pop Star and he put this up temporarily in the window of the church hall. The minister was pleased and said it gave the impression that we actually lived in the 21st Century and knew what was going on. We were horrified to find that it had been defaced only a few days later. The local police constable is trying to find out who did this terrible thing. You can see below how bad it is.

We have just finished sketching out new plans for the area between the old harbour and the public toilets. We have obtained the services of a well known volume housebuilder who has agreed to build 60 new homes if we provide a new road connection between Auchterness and the main road. This is great news. The housebuilders will do this at no cost to us - we just have to give them the land! Amazing! We will be able to tell of great progress in our Annual Report this year. I cycled up the road this afternoon to get the planning application forms and I might be able to fill these in tonight after I have my tea and just before River City comes on. We can get them approved tomorrow.

It's a great time to work in town planning. The intellectual input, the great care and thought that goes into every proposal and the generous nature of everyone who works in the development industry make me feel proud to be a member of the Institute.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

The task in hand

This is what someone did to our new wedding shop down by the old midden. Vomit and broken glass in the town centre, graffiti, litter and urine in the stairway of the ferry terminal, fly-tipping in the car park, aggression and foul language on the tourist train and on the country bus. Used condoms hanging from the tree in the school garden. Broken bottles of Buckfast around the War Memorial.....I could go on.

These are some of the problems facing the development company in driving forward its goals and objectives relative to securing the regeneration of the Lower Bannock area. We are worried that a number of delivery vehicles have been spotted by the Boys Brigade in the vicinity of the former Police Station.

In the words of the famous town planner Melvin Kurray, "They will know me although I do not know them." It seems likely that the drivers of these delivery vehicles know perfectly well who they are dealing with although we, Auchterness Regeneration Single Enterprise (ARSE), do not know them at present.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

And now we start

The villagers invited Melvin Kurray to open the new public toilet opposite the post office. There was great excitement as the specially prepared Arriva bus was towed onto the site of the proposed Town Square by Angus Macdonald in his historic Allis Chalmers tractor - it's bright orange paintwork reflecting the hopes and aspirations of the majority of the local community.

Auchterness Regeneration Single Enterprise had decided to invest in basic infrastructure for the new town centre well in advance of any realistic prospect of development as we were advised by consultant economists that a public toilet was a very popular facility and would greatly increase the chances of a call centre coming to the town. Our property consultants Ridden from Edinburgh had a different view but wouldn't commit this to paper until we settled a disputed fee note.

Anyway I digress. Kurray delivered a prepared statement on his vision for the future of planning in Scotland. I must admit that it was one of the most breathtakingly self-serving pieces I have ever heard. Mind you, a burnt out career is always hard to cope with. But he was all we could afford. The locals applauded enthusiastically and were delighted to see such a splendid display of refreshments laid on. Afterwards, the rain started again and it took Angus a long time to get Kurray's bus back down to the main road. We were happy to see the back of him - as old Mrs Davidson said, "He is a pompous loon." Indeed.

I hope we are doing the right thing here. There is talk of a new tram line or light rail link being established around the bay but if Edinburgh struggles to get this sort of thing, what hope have we? I'm worried that some of the sheep might get hurt on the track.

Greetings and the wonder of town planning

Hello everyone. Welcome to this great website provided free by Google in recognition of the importance of town planning in the service of Man in the 21st century. This site will document the development of the town of Auchterness - a new settlement in the socialist republic of Scotland. I hope you all find it interesting. On the map below, Auchterness is somewhere in the top bit - I'm afraid I'm not very good with this sort of thing.

I am the Secretary of the Auchterness Regeneration Single Enterprise. My wife left me some time ago so I have plenty of time to work hard for the future of this area and its deep cultural heritage of derelict crofts, sheep and the English who have come to live here. It is my firm belief that the recent work carried out by important people who lead our profession is carried out entirely for the good of the country rather than any mean-spirited self interest or personal aggrandisement. A succession of important people at the top of their profession have told me this.

I just wanted to finish this first post with a picture from the launch of our new company. It was held in the basement of the Glen Couter Arms Hotel - last used for storing sheep semen during the Falkland Crisis in the 1980s.
It was a great occasion - so much so that we are planning to have a relaunch very soon. This will be an opportunity to show off some of our dynamic new ideas for the recreational village near the old harbour which is going to feature a large development of volume builder housing in the former flood plain (we were told that no water has been seen there for years), a call centre and a new public toilet. The toilet will be the pump primer for the rest of the development.