Monday, 12 October 2009

The wonder of Stenhousemuir!

the great masterplan!
You know, I'm sick to the pit of my stomach. I heard today from a friend of mine working in economic development for a Council in the central belt that Asda have successfully transformed the town centre of Stenhousemuir, casting aside years of traditional retailing and historic street pattern, building a huge car park and erecting an absolutely fabulous new store. Amazing and breathtaking. I'm sickened because really, what is so special about a dump like Stenhousemuir and why did Asda do that instead of looking north to Auchterness? Stenhousemuir is a name people associate with a terrible football team in the lower echelons of the Scottish amateur leagues - hardly a hotspot for regeneration I would say.
shot from a passing aircraft
Anyway, let's have a look at the project from my expert planner's viewpoint. In the first place, I should say that this is being used as an example of good practice by Wee Alex Salmond's Scottish Government! Well, respect is due and I'm intensely jealous, but leaving that aside, you can see from the plan at the top of the page that this a stunning intervention and a real ball-breaker for the ineffectual bunch of whining shopkeepers that have kept Stenhousemuir down over the past decades. The development goes straight to the point - smashing through the old Main Street and establishing a new urban square of great wonder and style and suffused with continental atmosphere, where the oppressed people of the area can park their cars during the day, or have gang fights at night. That's part of the inclusiveness agenda I'm sure. Next, a bit of context.
the elegant parade of shops - right
Apparently there is more to this development than just Asda - there is a new park and public library (with a very unique style) and an elegant parade of new shop units next to the superstore - see above. This is all very good but people continue to whine. For example Janice King, manager of the Red Cross charity shop said: "Stenhousemuir's regeneration has hit us hard, most of the shops around us have closed down or moved and the old centre is now really quiet with very little passing trade. Since Asda opened we have seen a drastic fall in customers. People are avoiding this part of town and going straight to Asda where they can get cheap new clothes instead of walking through our doors." She obviously doesn't understand that this was the plan all along - boom boom! Another great success for 21st century retail and one in the eye for the fur-coat-and-nae-knickers charity shop brigade.

My hearty congratulations to all those involved in this outstanding project, especially to the guys from Macdonald Estates - the hardmen of the Scottish property development scene - and I should mention the previously unheard of architects too - Fouin and Bell - but I guess they just pulled the designs off the shelf or were given them by Asda. An easy win for them. But enormous praise of course to Asda for their breathtaking vision and community concern for this historic footballing town. It's a great result for the town and better than they'll ever get on the football field.


Nemesis said...

The future's bright. The future's Asda.

Dave Thompson said...

Fantastic - and they should sponsor the football team. Mind you Asda will only be interested in success.

Tim R said...

I'm really enjoying your commentaries on new projects, Dave - Stenhousemuir, Ardrossan, the Clyde in Glasgow. Lots of projects I'd never of heard of. You're really keeping me up to date on what's happening in Scottish planning. Thank you SO much!

Dave Thompson said...

Hello Tim R - thanks for dropping by - you're always welcome to sit around the fire and have a natter about planning - with every best wish- Dave

Anonymous said...

Don't know anyone in Stenhousemuir who actually likes this "redevelopment", what they have done is ripped the heart right of the village, leaving a large portion of it untouched and rundown.
Many small businesses have closed due to ASDA opening. ASDA own the new units and the rent that they are chargig means that they lie empty because very few businesses can afford them.
Stenhousemuir is quickly becoming an ASDA and charity shop centre.
Thankfully I moved out the area 2 years agao.

semwez said...

I can't tell from this whether you are terminally sarcastic or genuinely
in favour of the development.