Wednesday, 29 September 2010
I was completely astounded when I saw the front page of the Press and Journal this morning - I was going to write a blog post from work but decided to calm down and wait to see how I felt when I got home this evening. BUT I AM STILL BOILING OVER WITH ANGER!!! The man you see above is David Kennedy who was the first principal of Robert Gordon 'University'. He is a complete idiot - he didn't have a degree so he gave himself an Honorary one but now he is handing it back because, he says, he is “appalled” by plans to acknowledge the multi-billionaire businessman Dr Donald Trump by giving him a well deserved Honorary Degree and accused Robert Gordon of making the gesture to try to secure large donations.
Well let me put you straight old man. The Great Dr Donald Trump has revolutionised business practices and prospects in the north east by humiliating the planners, by building a golf course on some old sand dunes and constructing virtually a new town full of hotels, bars, executive housing and retail outlets which are the envy of the UK if not the World. You will not find one person who objects to this magnificent development - apart from some well known interference from a local scrapyard and from a few inbred local numpties.
So while Donald has actually achieved something very unique and special, you David Kennedy have done nothing with your life. Even the frogs and newts of Menie will be happy while you are crying into the empty envelope that once contained your Honorary Degree. Enjoy your moment of fame loser - because that's all you will get. And it's more than you deserve.
Saturday, 25 September 2010
You know, I was genuinely delighted earlier this week to give a talk to the local Scottish Women's Rural Institute (SWRI) about the great work I do at Auchterness. Unfortunately my enjoyment of the event was tarnished by a great deal of heckling and the submission of a petition asking for my resignation from the post of Secretary.
Anyway, the important message I put across was that town planning is a tremendously exciting profession and if you speak the right language, like me, you can really go places. Singing from the same hymn sheet, grass roots aspirations, low hanging fruit and signing up to consensus are all part of our daily vocabulary here at Auchterness - we know what we mean, even if others don't. So we can build an intellectual mystic around ourselves and our work. Great isn't it?
I told the SWRI that, "We are sustainable, inclusive, holistic and consultative - and we are always moving forward. We reaffirm local structures depending on the intervention need, creating a mandate for pursuing a particular process targeted at different age groups - and pressing the issue in relation to sub-strategies". I sensed that the audience was reeling at this point so I pushed home my case. "We have a portcullis approach to the issues of tourism with one plan sitting beneath another and kicking off relations with a three year action plan but without a perfect route to dividends. We will have a healthy living centre with a raft of other initiatives and the important messages are social, environmental, economic and janatorial".
At this point I sensed that the audience was in need of practical examples so I settled into a resume about Dr Donald Trump, Sir Ian Woods and Clydeport PLC - the creator of Glasgow Harbour and the inspiration for Leith Waterfront. As the audience began to leave, I realised that the fish and chip shop was about to close in ten minutes so I did a quick wrap up.
All in all, an excellent evening and a great opportunity for local people to connect to the exciting world of Town Planning.
Monday, 20 September 2010
You know, I find it hard to say the words 'Robert Gordon University' - I will always associate Robert Gordon's of Aberdeen with the Plumbers College they really are. I also appreciate that they are a private school responsible for producing a nasty strain of public schoolboy that is well out of place in the fishwife dominated environment of Greater Torry.
Of course the guys who run Robert Gordon's are not stupid - even though most of the students are - and I was thrilled to read the other day that they will award my all time hero Donald Trump with an honorary Doctor of Business Administration on the 8th of October. That's no doubt a date for most of your diaries. Dr Trump will deliver an acceptance address in front of an audience of invited guests and students and I for one will be hanging on every word. The 'University' has chosen to confer this degree on Donald in recognition of his business acumen, entrepreneurial vision and the long-term future his company is planning in the North-East of Scotland. Isn't that fantastic?
So you see, flattening the sand dunes, crushing the newts and toads and ignoring the planners actually works. All praise to Dr Donald for establishing a new business ethic in the north east of Scotland, revolutionising planning and ploughing the scrapyards and small holdings into the eighteenth hole. This is the way it should be!
Friday, 17 September 2010
You know, I've been pondering this week over the disappearance of famous engineering consultants Scott Wilson who were swallowed up by American giant URS, who previously gorged themselves on Thorburn Colquhoun and many others. Of course Scott Wilson weren't just engineers - they were a truly multidisciplinary company with a reputation for being mediocre at all sorts of things ranging from project management and transportation to landscaping gardens and most importantly, town planning. A cross between a Goliath and a dinosaur.
Now we all know that when a snake has a meal it sleeps afterwards. Scott Wilson spent much of their time feasting on other companies, making irresistible offers to folk who were close to retirement, scunnered with their hopeless staff and unable to sack them because of employment laws. They should have been getting on with the work instead of empire building - getting work for themselves instead of buying other firms' clients! Well Scott Wilson fell asleep and now they have paid the ultimate penalty for their greed and that was careless. Now they've gone - how cares? Well I do.
I'm old enough now to remember a very different consultant picture in Scotland - names like Crouch and Hogg (famous for the elegant Kessock Bridge - above), Babtie Shaw and Morton or even William Gillespie and Partners, Brian Clouston and many others who I can't recall but who all worked with me at the Scottish Development Agency.
But wait! It's entirely possible that some of my current day heroes will also disappear. Folk like Archial and 3DReid, those masters of commercial design, would provide a great meal for an ambitious company. Halliday Fraser Munro - those victorious heroes who will be infilling Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen - may also find themselves digesting in the stomach of a larger predator though the sheer talent in HFM could prove to be a very rich dish. But ultimately this would be bad for Scotland - I could stomach the loss of some of these companies but one thing is for sure - Keppie Design will never surrender to a snake in the grass.
They are too big and too talented to let that happen and with their heritage stretching all the way back to the nineteenth century, working for toffs and building most of Glasgow, they will surely lead our country through this century as a design leader and inspiration to all of us.
PS I've just noticed in my personal copy of Planning that the goons in the RTPI are mightily upset because Scott Wilson were their Consultant of the Year in 2009. Well what a shame but it goes with the territory - EDAW were winners in 2001 then eaten by AECOM a few years later. So if you want to remain alive, don't have anything to do with the RTPI!
Saturday, 4 September 2010
You know, I almost choked on my Rice Krispies this morning as I read my personal edition of Planning. The fantastic news is that Aberdeen City Council have announced plans for more than 20,000 new homes to be built over the next few years, focusing on Aberdeen Football Club's amazing new space age stadium - somewhere in the green belt. My goodness! The good folk of the Aberdeen property development industry don't even think about limits. Fresh from the success of Union Terrace Gardens they just get on with things. If the rest of the country was like that, Scotland would be a world leader in ploughing up green belt instead of being cosy with frogs and newts. Our First Minister, wee fat Alex Salmond would be thrilled.
Just look at that stadium - the Red Ultras will have a great time there. But wait. Isn't there a huge opportunity here to build these 20,000 homes as tower blocks. A thoroughly modern city grouped around a football stadium is an enticing prospect and matches the visions of the Great Donald Trump and Sir Ian Woods at Menie and Union Terrace Gardens.
This is exactly the sort of development that should have been proposed at Grandhome by the Reverend Andrew Duany instead of the Highland Housing Expo Scottish nonsense that will be happening there - big mistake. Look at this fantastic proposal below - this is the sort of futuristic housing that Aberdeen will build given a fair wind.
This one was done by a firm called FAT who I've never heard of. It's good but I think Keppies, Archial or even 3DReid could do a better job. Anyway we will just have to wait, but everything looks to be in place to make Aberdeen a genuine replacement for Leith as the real epicentre of dynamic property development led growth in Scotland. A gold star and a big tick for all those involved!