Monday, 10 January 2011
You know, there's a really juicy piece of news around in the welfare town of Forfar at the moment. I was alerted to this by my personal copy of Bell and Scott's sector review which arrived in my inbox at lunchtime. Apparently it's another case of a group of locals unwilling to bow to the inevitable and acknowledge that traditional ways of shopping are history. All this angst and hand wringing has been brought about because a multi-million-pound Asda superstore has been given the planning green light after town councillors found themselves out on a limb in opposing the development. So long old shops! Your time is up! Fantastic!!
The supermarket giant hailed approval for a store which they hope will create more than 250 jobs, bring in a £20 million-plus annual turnover and take the trade war to rival Tesco, which it has been claimed is scooping up more than 70% of Forfar's shopping spend. Well it won't create 250 jobs - that is just window dressing - but the principle of the survival of the fittest, the up and coming monumental battle between Tesco and Asda (our modern day giants of retail) and the destruction of old shops owned by old people selling unpalatable food is completely sound in my view. So the Forfar Bridie won't be featuring in Asda's plans. It too will be history and not before time. That's another box ticked!
But wait - there's more! Now Asda are a canny bunch of operators - and I'm very fond of their sausages - so when it came to planning gain, they got away with only £38,000 worth of landscaping and road improvements. Considering how much money they will make from the store it's got to be one of the best bargains so far in 2011. So much for the Council planners fighting for the best result for Forfar - they were maybe keen to get a job at Asda. After all, their own jobs will disappear soon.
A final point. I haven't seen the drawings for this proposal but I'm certain that it will be a thing of great beauty. A crisp metal-clad box glinting in the sunshine and sending out rays of retail goodwill to Forfar's destitute populace and extending further afield to the droves of English hippies living in black houses and old railway carriages throughout the miserable Angus countryside. Forfar will now jump straight from the 19th century to the 21st century - an amazing achievement. So a gold star and 9/10 points in my new notebook - plus a big tick.
Saturday, 8 January 2011
Happy New Year to all my thousands of readers and of course, each and every one of you is special! I hope you're ready for an exciting ride through the wonders of planning in Scotland.
I arrived back in the office on Wednesday 5th but by lunchtime, there was some unsettling gossip about things that I dare hardly think about. My own position here at Auchterness may be under review as a result of stringent cutbacks in public expenditure and there is talk of ‘sun-setting’ the entire operation. I can’t believe that this will happen as we are a critical component of the country’s public-private sector partnerships and widely known as ‘thought leaders’ in the field of regeneration and renewal. There is no need for anyone to be cast down or worry about our future - I give you my word on that, but I will of course keep you informed of developments.
A couple of things of a more jovial nature. Firstly, did you happen to see the mad story about the Burntisland Clock and the ludicrous goings on at Fife Council? One miserable local person complained about the noise of the town clock chimes so Fife Council removed the chimes. Crazy! Then about 200 people gathered in Burntisland the following evening to demonstrate against the removal of their clock chimes after 150 years. Then 1,100 signed a petition calling for the chimes to be restored. They even have a Facebook page - I've joined in the fun just for badness! It’s a great story about the minefield of local democracy in action and is perfect evidence of all the terrible things I’ve been saying about giving local people their say. Just don’t listen to them - that’s my advice! And certainly don't ask them in the first place!
Secondly, and as they used to say in Private Eye, I had to peel an onion when I received the sad news the other day that Planning magazine is moving to a fortnightly format - what a terrible thing to happen to the magazine nobody reads - and they're getting a new editor to help breathe some life into it. After the tears were flowing freely I started laughing of course as really this is a major setback for the goons in London. It’s just what you would expect to happen when they have a woman president - it wouldn’t have happened on a man’s watch would it? With any luck it will move to a monthly format then quietly die off - no one will care of course. It’s a profession without a future as long as the goons in London are in charge.