Friday, 26 November 2010

A Planner's Bumper Fun Book #1 - Hotels

Dundee's fantastic Premier Inn set in luscious landscaping
You know, I'm often asked, "What do you actually do?" A very good question. Not that I'm in any doubt but it might be difficult for lesser beings to understand! So I thought I would write an occasional series of posts on some of the hot topics in the expert world of the fully qualified town planner. Here's Part 1 - the hotel.

Ok let's go! Now hotels are one of the most desirable items in the planners's bumper fun book. Think Monopoly - think Park Lane - okay? Let's talk Scotland - it comes down to two classic chains. Travelodge and Premier Inns. Fantastic! They are all over the place and their incestuous battle for supremacy is played out from Elgin to West Edinburgh. Like two Premier Division Football sides, these two giants of business provision knock each other around like an old couple but they are deadly serious.

Just look at my picture above of the Premier Inn at Dundee. Forget about the daft V&A proposals - this is the real thing. Imagine staying overnight at this succulent supplier of late night treats. Imagine standing naked at your window with your Mars Bar in the dead of night overlooking the silvery Tay with nothing between you and the river but a bit of double glazing, a luscious lawn and an asphalt path - fabulous! You have your own electric kettle for the night (maybe) and some tea-bags. But there's a machine in the hall to dispense soft drinks - it's an incredibly sophisticated offer!
the luxurious Travelodge in the west end of Edinburgh
So what's the link to planning and regeneration? Well it's obvious. Like public art which I've referred to before, a Travelodge or a Premier Inn is a sign that planners have been at work, 'enabling' as we say, oiling the wheels of business and ensuring that everything turns out well. A nice asphalt car park with white markings is a classic touch. The nice wee plants around the car park should be spikey so that crisp packets can get stuck on them - makes it easier for the Council layabouts to pick them up once or twice a year - and dense undergrowth is good for hiding beer cans. That's three boxes ticked and I've hardly started!
a Premier Inn in Elgin - amazing!
You often find that these hotels are build close to other important facilities like business parks, ten-pin bowling alleys, edge-of-town cinemas, supermarkets and upmarket restaurants like Frankie and Bennys. That's what we expert planners call a 'cluster of excellence' - good isn't it?

Of course there is a dark side to this success story. Sometimes these facilities are used by ladies of the night (although that might not be the case in Elgin - well I wouldn't advise anyone to try it). It's a sure sign that these developments are successful when uses that were once associated with town centres move to edge-of-town sites. It's another kick in the pants for the conservation lobby and others who oppose modern development. You know, many of my friends in Scottish Enterprise aspire to provide a Travelodge - they think it would be the pinnacle of a successful career - the ultimate bit of enabling. I agree!

So in summary, hotel developments like these are a clear sign of a successful area and a beacon of light, demonstrating the value of planning today.


Austen Redman said...

I can feel my soul shrivelling as I look at those photographs!

Dave Thompson said...

Hello Austen - good to have you aboard and thanks for contributing. I'm sorry the photographs aren't a bit better but it was all I could get.

Yours in planning

Dave T