Tuesday, 15 February 2011

An Unnecessary Rethink

Edinburgh Waterfront from the City of Edinburgh Council Report
You know, after the shambolic and inaccurate mess of my post last night I thought I would try to make amends by writing about an important study which has been brought to my attention by the amazing Bell and Scott's daily delivery of sector knowledge. Bell and Scott have one of the best doorways through which you can view the dynamic Scottish property development industry at work.

Today, they opened the door onto the Draft Area Development Framework for Edinburgh Waterfront and Leith, an area I had previously referred to as an epicentre of dynamic growth. This smouldering hotpot of development has been one of Scotland's development success stories and, like Glasgow Harbour, it is totally unique. The command that Forth Ports and Clydeport have exercised over their respective harbour areas is truly world class.

So it is quite remarkable that the City of Edinburgh Council, assisted by the highly secretive organisation known as A+DS (shortly to be wound up in all probability), the Prince's Foundation and others have decided to 'refresh' the plans for the Waterfront. The report states that, "The sites at the waterfront are among the most significant development opportunities in Europe. Unfortunately, some of the developments first approved and developed at the beginning of the 2,000s have failed to meet this expectation. As a consequence, it is evident that it will take considerably longer for development in the waterfront 'areas of change' at Leith, Newhaven and Granton to be fully realised. Also, some of the recent development models will no longer be desirable in the present financial climate." To my mind this is saying that the previous work has been a failure - how can that be? Incredible! So now they've decided to sit around with Prince Charles eating Duchy Originals, scribble up a few plans and write a big report. What for?
one of the meaningless plans from the report
Anyway one of the interesting things about this report is the language. You know, we expert planners are always keen to talk about strings of pearls, green fingers and the like. This time we have a beating heart, a Great Street and a Merchant City. In fact we have a number of beating hearts, presumably accompanied by a twinkle in the eye, cauliflower ears and a club foot though I haven't been able to find them yet. This is all meant to confuse the public of course because the last thing planners need is interference from the local community and certainly the development industry will be anxious to avoid having to deal with busybodies wearing sandals and brightly coloured cardigans. Not surprisingly though, news of this story in the Scotsman has caused an eruption of antagonism in the comments section which is well worth reading. If anyone seriously wonders why we planners like to avoid consultation just read this!

In my view, Edinburgh has made a big mistake in refreshing the plans for the waterfront areas. What can the Prince's Foundation possibly know that global design firms like RMJM and others don't know? RMJM have prepared highly regarded plans for their private sector masters and managed to ignore community wishes along the way - an excellent strategy that has borne fruit in Glasgow Harbour. This is a waste of public money and will lead nowhere.

For what it's worth, you can download the report from here.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Goodbye, Man in Motion

the dreadful Man in Motion sculpture
You know, my professional and personal lives have been so completely dismal over the past few weeks that I haven't had the energy to contribute anything to the Scottish Planning scene. I won't go into all of that for now as I'm determined to be positive. But just when I was feeling so down yesterday, I read the fantastic news that cliché artist Andy Scott's awful Man in Motion installation had been largely destroyed in a car accident. Isn't that great? By the way, I was very remiss in not crediting Delphwynd with taking the great wee photie on the right above - you can see more of his work here and thanks for letting me use it!

Now first of all, I hope no one was hurt in this incident. Police are still investigating so they haven't come out and said openly what everyone knows is the truth - that this was a deliberate piece of sabotage aimed at undermining the regeneration of Tullibody in Clakmannan- not the City of Dundee as I wrote earlier ( you see how stressed I am at the moment). I await confirmation of this with great interest and amusement. Of course it's ironic that Man in Motion should have been felled by a car - it just shows you that Clackmannan need to address the road safety agenda as well as all the other rubbish they spend money on.

I'll try to keep this brief because I'm still laughing. but I sincerely hope that this intervention was carried out deliberately by some nice wee middle class lady rather than by some drunken ned high on Buckfast in a stolen Vauxhall Nova. It's about time that good sensible people fought back at this patronising and ridiculous policy of providing Andy Scott with work whenever an area has been identified as a slum needing a good kick up the backside. See that rubbish Arria statue at Cumbernauld - it will be next. I hope it will be flattened by a thoughtful HGV driver.
the hideous Arria installation at Cumbernauld
The only cloud in this story is the prospect of Andy being brought in and paid a lot of money to repair the damage to his creation. Let sleeping sculptures lie I say. Down with public art!

And apologies to everyone for getting my geography so wrong - I am an idiot!