Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Building Scotland Magazine is so great!

Port of Leith Housing Association new development
You know, I've raved on about Building Scotland magazine in the past but I'm almost completely overwhelmed by the fantastic collection of developments in my personal edition of this learned journal which I received this morning. Right from the opening pages it's an architect's dream - I gorgeous collection of beautiful projects and people that are worthy of the highest accolades. If you look at the wee photie above you'll see what I mean - cutting edge design delivered with panache and sensitivity to context. It certainly gets a gold star and a big tick from me! No wonder that Scotland is the envy of the architectural world.
Gorgeous St Kentigern's Academy at Blackburn, West Lothian
Now just look at this building above - it's St Kentigern's Academy at Blackburn in West Lothian. It only cost £6.6m and amazingly, the architects were too humble to put there name to it - but my guess is that Keppies or Archial were responsible for this visual treat. Anyway, I'm sure the lucky children who will be educated in this building will have a great start in life.
a fantastic road improvement scheme
Now just look at this! It's a critical road improvement scheme built by Highland Quality Construction and surely an award winning project for it's use of colour, integration with the landscape and sheer craftsmanship - look at the smooth curves of the white-lining! And the delicate use of big black bollards is a lovely touch. Building Scotland really has an eye for these great projects and should be heartily congratulated. This is so great!
Andy Walder - says things twice
Finally I have to mention Andy Walder, Director of the National Construction College, who has two articles in this issue on building a sustainable future. I'm with you there Andy - very important for the planet and our children. Both articles are identical though (page 16 and page 29) and I assume this is a clever editorial technique for emphasising the importance of what this great (if glum) man has to say to Scotland. Sometimes you have to say things twice. So well done Building Scotland Magazine - great work!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Total Luddites

the suave and debonair Cammy Fraser
Gillespie Investment Group, the Glasgow-based commercial property arm of the Gillespie mining and haulage family firm, has received permission for a £200 million data storage development on a 164-acre part of the Drumshangie site, a former open-cast coal mine at Greengairs. You know, the goons in London - otherwise known as the RTPI - will be getting the message loud and clear at last. There's a fantastic story about it in the Herald today (and I make no apologies for using their image and some of their text). Actually I was personally informed of the situation in North Lanarkshire through a message we received courtesy of Bell and Scott whose daily newsletters about the latest terrific developments in Scotland's rampant property development industry have surveyors and land agents fighting to get to their PCs round about lunchtime every day. Well of course it's not everyone who gets this and to be honest, this was forwarded to me by a friend who works inside the cage at North Lanarkshire Planning Department. Boy are they down in the dumps! Here's why.

One of the most ambitious integrated developments of a former industrial site ever planned in central Scotland has received a key planning permission from North Lanarkshire Council despite opposition from council planners, who were described by local MSP and Scottish Government housing minister Alex Neil, as “total Luddites”. Great - people are speaking the truth for once.
the Greengairs environment
Now I haven't seen details of this great development but I'm sure it is very good - and certainly more than a dump like Greengairs deserves with its open cast coal mines, rubbish tips and slag heaps. Really, the Bucky Bhoys won't even notice. The plans on display behind Cammy Fraser (top picture) look tantalising though and were probably produced by Keppies or some other top firm who know how to get the best out of the planning system and who have always been thought leaders in green belt redevelopment.

But the real story here is how the planners were completely over-ruled by a collection of enlightened elected members who are wise enough to live elsewhere and who poured scorn on all the usual planning issues and went for development at all costs - excellent! Scotland is dragging itself out of the dark ages with the help of Donald Trump and Sir Ian Wood in the Aberdeen area and now help has come from the most unlikely quarter of North Lanarkshire Council. It's great! They should be up for the RTPI's own Planning Award soon!