Sunday, 10 November 2013

Grandhome - Fear of a Massive Suburb

An artist's impression of the Grandhome development
You know, I was scanning the pages of the Press and Journal the other day when I came across a fantastic article about plans for the biggest expansion of the Bridge of Don area of Aberdeen in decades. It's a complete smack in the face for sandal wearing middle class busy-bodies. They're too lazy to get a job on the rigs so all they can do is moan about the progress of the New Scottish Enlightenment. Happily there is plenty of enlightenment in the Aberdeen area which continues to be voted one of the best places to live in Scotland. This stimulating environment is based on rich clever people doing what they want and bullying Councils and their pathetic, interfering, lazy and incompetent planners into approving their great projects.

Anyway, this development by the Grandhome Trust took a major step forward last week as plans were lodged with the City Council for approval - and they will be approved of course. Of that there is no doubt.  The scheme aims to create a new community with 4,700 houses, schools, shops and health facilities as well as new land for business use.

It's suburban living with a new twist - the design is based on “walkable neighbourhoods”, providing easy access to shops and facilities. In my view as an expert planner, this is either a clever bargaining counter, a cynical piece of branding or a big mistake! People in Aberdeen don't like walking so why should folk living in Bridge of Don be any different? Walkable neighbourhoods have been doing the rounds for years but they will never catch on - especially in Aberdeen!

Predictably, the local populace have raised concerns that the development could lead to “mayhem” on the already heavily congested Parkway as farmers and their sheep look for new grazing land.

You can read about the fantastic suburb here. It's great the way these developers create a lovely cuddly feeling around their proposals....planned and designed by a team of community development experts and leading Scottish practitioners. Really? I've heard of Fairhurst but that's it. No sign of Keppies or Halliday Fraser Munro at all! Apparently thay have all been working closely with Aberdeen City, national agencies and other stakeholders to ensure the delivery of the masterplan. I can imagine that the Grandhome developers are laughing up their sleeves at the ineptitude of all of the above mentioned public bodies.

For me, this Massive Suburb has all the characteristics of the New Age of Scottish projects in which rich people roll over local communities and their objections, vanquish public sector impediments and obliterate farmers to create amazing new developments and generate a great deal of money. It's straight out of the Donald Trump, Sir Ian Wood and Ewan Jamieson school of planning. It's Glasgow Harbour with Sheep! The Grandhome Trust folk are apparently landed gentry so they can do whatever they like- that's the way it has always been. It's the correct and only way! The good folk who will buy homes and drive about in the new suburb can tug their forelocks and bow and scrape when they see the Grandhome Family and their Estate Managers passing by. It's part of the sales pitch.

I think this development is an amazing and positive step towards driving progress in the suburbs of the greatest city in Scotland. It gets a gold star and 10/10 in my little black book. My hearty congratulations to everyone involved! I look forward to seeing it built.

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