Saturday, 21 September 2013

Green Light for St Nicholas House

The fantastic redevelopment of St Nicholas House, Aberdeen
You know, I'm almost exhausted after my multiple reports to you over the past few weeks. After this one, I really will have to sit down in the peace and tranquility of my lovely wee garden and take some time out with my brassicas.

I wrote to you recently about Sir John Halliday and his plans for the eradication of Union Terrace Gardens from the map of Aberdeen.  This is simply a wonderful project which showcases what can happen when Council planners are not involved in projects. Sir John's big pencil was guided on that occasion by the firm and experienced hand of an older man - none other than one of my long standing heroes Sir Ian Wood - and it is a triumph.  When I learned that Halliday Fraser Munro were also involved in the St Nicholas House site I realised that it actually might be possible for cities once again to be designed by one great architect or planner. It's a throwback to the days of Sir Patrick Abercrombie and others of his ilk and a smack in the face for the parasites who promote public consultation or even worse, the folk who try to get the great unwashed to contribute their ideas to projects that have already been designed. What does a hairy-arsed fisherman know about planning anyway?  Much more than his wife I'm sure!

Anyway, here's my take on the project from the expert planner's point of view. It's what we call a mixed use development featuring offices, a boutique hotel, cafes, restaurants and shops, as well as creating a significant amount of public space and pedestrianising Broad Street. That's at least three boxes ticked in one sentence! Fantastic!  There are also plans to create a garden area which will be known as Marischal Square - that's another box ticked to keep the Green idiots happy.  It's a ten-storey development so it will stand out proudly from surrounding traditional buildings of little merit - they will be demolished in due course. It's a golden addition to the Silver City!

Council leader Councillor Barney Crockett said: “The decision to appoint Muse as the preferred bidder for the site puts us in a strong position to not only press on with regenerating the city centre, but also to reap both the short and long-term benefits of the scheme. It’s an historic decision by the council and it’s a great one for Aberdeen." Absolutely! This is the language of success and confidence - I recognise it and I hope you do too.

Aberdeen must be one of the easiest places to develop in Scotland at the moment.  The Council wisely allows anything to be built although in this case residents should have no fear as Sir John's big pencil expertly penetrates the gap left by the old Council HQ, producing a degree of ecstasy hitherto unknown to the local population. It is likely that his silver tongue will also induce great pleasure as he describes his erections to the public. I'm sure there will be a token piece of public consultation - possibly in the form of a pantomime event held around Christmas - but this will be meaningless. It's another full speed ahead job for Halliday Fraser Munro and my hearty congratulations go out to everyone involved. Simply a great project for a great city!

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