Sunday, 21 February 2010

Edinburgh's slum shops to be phased out

a typical slum shop
You know, I was absolutely delighted to read last week in the Scotsman that local shops in the middle class slums of Edinburgh are about to get a hearty kick up the backside. Yes! At long last Sainsbury's have decided to intervene in this part of the market in a great move that will see horrible wee local shops put to the sword - together with their salmonella sandwiches and mouldy books. So it's goodbye to the small independents, hairdressers and junk shops that make places like Morningside, Marchmont and the Meadows look so old and tatty.
rat in a loaf
After years of focusing on the construction of fabulous clean out of town superstores that we can all drive to easily, supermarket chains are now looking to local, metro-style stores for their expansion, and in many cases, the independents are alarmed. Well who cares about them? Knocking three or four filthy little shops together into one seems like progress to me. What's more, the food will be properly packaged instead of lying out in a open tray and being home to twenty blue-bottles for the past week. Disgusting!
mouldy fruit from a typical local shop in Edinburgh
Here's another great idea - what if Sainsbury's or ideally Asda knocked down a whole parade of local shops, built a metro style store and used the rest of the site for car parking? Now that is a 21st century approach to town planning and the sort of thing that will leave local councils wishing they had thought of it. It's the sort of thing that Scotland's dynamic property development industry will be only too happy to provide and planners will nod it through of course - well they have nothing else to do these days thanks to the goons at the RTPI in London.

Friday, 12 February 2010

The RTPI has a new President!

Ann Skippers - new RTPI President
I wonder how many of you town planners out there realise the crisis we have on our hands with the goons in London otherwise known as the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Now as you all know, the RTPI is not my favourite organisation to say the least - flashy offices in London, a ridiculous logo, outrageous fees and company cars for many of the staff.

Now usually the President is a womaniser, religious maniac or sociopath - or all of these. But now they've appointed a woman as President - I carried out an image search for her on Google and the wee photie above is what I found. I don't know President Ann Skippers personally of course but I wish her well and hope that she lives long enough to see out the Presidency. Poor old soul - surely she could find something better to do at her age.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Union Terrace Gardens again

Union Terrace Gardens - crying out for redevelopment
I see the Sunday Herald was at it again yesterday, giving publishing space to some local loon called Jim Hamlyn who is opposed to the infilling of the hole currently known as Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen. Disgraceful. Why the Sunday Herald is intent on stopping this development is beyond me - they are trying to ruin the city's prospects of regeneration.

Now you all know my views on this - it is perfectly clear that Sir Ian Wood is rich and clever and so will know far more about urban planning than the great unwashed or some crackpot arts association. They will be too busy polishing their sandals to have thought coherently about the merits of these tremendously exciting proposals. Now since I wrote my last piece on this, I've discovered that in addition to the brilliant architectural practice Halliday Fraser Munro whose cutting edge design work has enthralled millions of architectural students across the globe, Sir Ian has also employed Martha Schwarz. I'm led to believe that she is a landscape architect of some kind but honestly I can't imagine why Halliday Fraser need this sort of thing - I mean it's not going to be a park anymore so why bother with a landscape gardener. In Auchterness we've had plenty of experience of these types and believe me, it's a waste of time and money employing them.
the excellent proposals by Sir Ian Wood
So Jim Hamlyn, you can stop crying into your tea up there at Garthdee and face the reality of 21st Century life. Union Terrace Gardens will be no more - buried. Simple as that. A multistorey car park and related developments are worth far more to Aberdeen than a few trees and a chasm where no one goes except drunken wasters and students. Instead look forward to shopping there - you know you will! And as for the Sunday Herald, you should learn from your pointless and failed campaign against the Great Donald Trump and just leave Aberdeen to the rich folk who know better.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Inverness Campus: a retail park in disguise

aerial view - note buildings falling over bottom left
You know, I'm filled with admiration for the work of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) as you know. Their recent work in John O' Groats knocked me for six with its retail driven regeneration plan and circular car parks - fantastic! Now, according to my personal weekly edition of Planning (thanks to the goons at the RTPI for this) they've produced another amazing proposal to create an out of town university near Inverness which has gone in for planning permission.
what a depressing environment
This will be like an enormous retail park for students. That's a big smack in the face for those miserable jimmies who talk about town-and-gown - the silly notion that universities should be in or near town centres because students spend money in shops and cafes and help local businesses by creating a buzzing street life. Well they don't have any money to spend so that's that one put to bed straight away! You just need to look at Stirling University - students just get on the bus for half an hour - so what?
views of the proposed buildings - just daft
HIE have employed an architectural firm called 7N to create the drawings necessary to get planning permission. I must admit that these are very poor but of course all the fancy stuff will be abandoned later on in the process when the hard facts of life dictate that most of the buildings will be sheds. As it is, 7N's drawings show a depressing environment of little interest or quality. Actually I wonder if they are architects so if they are serious about continuing their involvement, they had better start getting real and forgetting about the infantile stuff. But it is a cunning rouse to get planning permission and should be given large tick because of that.
some nice wee wild animals will like it here
Now one of the clever things about this campus is that because it is out of town, it will be dead at night so wildlife will be able to use the facilities when the students leave - a clever bit of box-ticking there for the green agenda. Honestly, it's amazing that people are taken in by this trash but they obviously are - and will be again with these garish proposals.

I've known people in HIE for many years - they may not employ the most attractive women in the world and a lot of them are numpties - but they are really at the top of their game when it comes to getting consent for greenfield developments. Congratulations!