Sunday, 26 January 2014

Dawn of the Dead

Dawn of the Dead being screened in Denny town centre
Dawn of the Dead being screened in Denny town centre

You know, I was thrilled to see that Glasgow-based event firm Itison has revealed plans for showing drive-in movies in appropriate locations throughout Scotland. It's a great way for ordinary folk to 'engage with their environment' as we expert planners say. A total of 20,000 people saw films such as Elf and It’s a Wonderful Life at the Lomond Shores centre at the southern end of Loch Lomond at Christmas, while nearly 10,000 watched Ghostbusters and Halloween over the Halloween weekend at Victoria Park in the west end of Glasgow.

First of all Itison have come up with rather predictable film and venue partnerships - the James Bond blockbuster Skyfall in Glencoe, West Sands beach in St Andrews, which famously featured in Chariots of Fire and they also included Jaws, which might be screened beside the River Clyde near the Riverside Museum in Glasgow. It's dedicated to the Leader of the Council. They also have a location wishlist and I think I can help them out with some insightful suggestions.

Let's be topical! Clearly town centres obsess most planners at the moment. They are obsessed because there is nothing they can do! It's like the unrequited love for a beautiful woman so focus on town centre would be a good start for a planner's wish list of locations. My first suggestion is Denny town centre which was the subject of an Urban Realm Carbuncles intervention a while back. Well it hasn't improved at all and for me, it never will. It has doom written all over it but it would be the ideal location to screen Dawn of the Dead. My fallback location for this would be Clydebank Shopping Centre.

The problem is that Dawn of the Dead could have been flmed in either location using the residents as extras. Maybe it was actually filmed in Clydebank!
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre being screened at B&Q, Dundee
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre being screened at B&Q, Dundee

Another one that comes to mind is the car park of B&Q at King's Cross Road, Dundee - a great place for a day out! The boy and I were there many years ago when he was a nice wee laddie. I recommend to Itison that they screen the texas Chainsaw Massacre here - a great way of advertising some of B&Q's products!

I should credit Wee Shuggie at the office with knocking out these breathtaking CGIs in Photoshop. It's a better use of his time than knocking up women whose heads he has turned with a fish supper.

I hope to be back tomorrow with an important post aimed at helping planners and wooly-headed environmentalists towards achieving better performance figures and KPIs. I'm sure you are looking forward to this.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Culloden Housing Approved!

Beautiful historic farm buildings near Culloden
The beautiful farm buildings near Culloden
- surely they should be conserved?
You know, I burst out laughing when I heard the news that the proposal by Inverness Properties to build '16 homes' near the Culloden Battlefield had been approved by the Scottish Government's Reporter, overturning the decision of Highland Council to refuse the application. What did anyone expect? This is 2014 and the sorts of ridiculous matters raised by objectors are irrelevant voices from the past. In any case, it will be more like '160 homes' when this is finished!

Let's have a look at this from the expert planner's viewpoint.  In the first place, it's almost impossible to see the proposed development from the battlefield. Even if you could, it wouldn't matter - people like these nice new houses! They will look a lot better than the Battlefield Centre designed by Servant Architect Gareth Hoskins, the man who prostrated himself before Donald Trump at Menie and bent right over his drawing board to satisfy the Great Man. Perhaps it is the Battlefield Centre that shouldn't have been built - think about that! But look too at these lovely farm buildings that will be demolished - has no one suggested that they be preserved?

Highland Council of course are annoyed by this slap in the face. I'm laughing again but isn't it the same Council who have given permission for a sea of similar suburban residential development around our great Highland City? Honestly, there is so much hypocrisy around. It seems they have forgotten that they have presided over much worse! I'm not complaining though - some of the developments around the city are wonderful, especially the work of  Tulloch Homes who are by far and away one of the best volume housebuilders in the country. Just look at this fabulous image below.
A fabulous Tulloch Homes creation - spellbinding
This is the sort of fantastic development that people want these days. You know, folk talk about the Scottish Government being heavily pro-business as if there was something wrong in that. Usually it's the same old collection of supposedly left-leaning middle class sandal-wearing do-gooders in khaki shorts with too much time on their hands who complain. They should be forced to do Community Service - that would sort them out. I'm really sick of it.

Even here at Auchterness there are people who should be forced to pick up litter twice a week - we are all sick of their petitions, their barrage of emails and their long-winded letters complaining about things that don't matter.

Anyway I'm ranting and rambling now so I will leave it for today. My hearty congratulations go out to the Scottish Government for their excellent decision and to Inverness Properties on their spectacular victory. And to all the folk who are disappointed, annoyed or embittered by this, my message is simple. Get a Life! We live in a New Scottish Enlightenment and we are all very lucky to experience this. Everything is moving in our favour - don't try to stop progress by being an environmental nuisance.  Thank you.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Scottish Government Charrette Process

I saw this wonderful video this afternoon while I was researching some background information on a new Safari Park which we are planning for Auchterness. It will be a fantastic attraction with sponsored cages.

The video reminded me of a Scottish Government Charrette I attended a few years back in the throbbing metropolis of Aberdeen, epicentre of the Scottish Economy. I just wanted to share it with you. See if you can guess who's who!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

I told you so

The absolutely fantastic Trump International Golf Course
The absolutely fantastic Trump International Golf Course
at Menie Estate near Aberdeen
You know, you should always trust the expert planner. That's me! For all these years I have been beating the drum for our enterprising friends in the Aberdeen area. I have put up with death threats, suggested deportation and invitations to have certain parts of my body relocated to places where they don't belong.

Now last week I read an article in the Sunday Herald that confirms that the opening of the Trump International Links - God's Own Golf Course no less - has resulted in a golfing boom in the north east of Scotland. Well!  I knew this would happen! In a nutshell, bookings are up four-fold as golfers visit the area to play three or four courses. And Royal Aberdeen has been selected to host the Scottish Open Championship next year. Royal Aberdeen of course refuses to permit female members but this is a major attraction to most real men in the Aberdeen area.

The article goes on to describe Dr Donald's course as 'utterly inspiring' with 'real empathy for the land' and 'fitting in perfectly'. 'It is genuinely difficult to pick out highlights because there are so many'. Isn't this fantastic and a major body-blow to the frogs and newts that are now looking over the fence into their former home. The course was designed by Dr Martin Hawtree, the acknowledged master of links golf course architecture. The fact that it was designed by a Doctor is deeply impressive - I wouldn't mind signing up to be one of his patients!

Now all these despicable trolls living in their black houses and railway coaches who said this was a disaster have been proved to be completely wrong. They know nothing! Absolutely nothing! I've spoken before about the trickle-down effect of developments like this and have praised many such projects all over Scotland. This article demonstrated that trickle-down really works. Now all these inbred protestors and sandal-wearing middle class interfering nincompoops can stay at home and shut up.

This is a tremendous victory for the New Scottish Enlightenment and I have written personally to Dr Donald Trump today congratulating him on his foresight, his genius, his design talent and his beautiful wife. I have also pointed out my considerable and nationally regarded role as Expert Planner and Thought Leader and have offered my consultancy services to him on an exclusive basis - at an appropriate rate.

Monday, 6 January 2014

My Craighouse Healing Project

Craighouse - a fabulous new development - what's not to like?
A fabulous new development - what's not to like?
You know, it's very flattering when people ask for my views as an expert planner and thought leader on developments in Scotland. I was delighted recently to be invited to report on proposals for Craighouse Campus in Edinburgh and I was thrilled by what I saw but troubled by what I read.

Basically this is a situation which is all too common these days. A developer buys land and buildings in good faith from a public sector organisation desperate for cash. He then finds himself pilloried and abused by a bunch of middle class busy-bodies who imagine they have some right to decide on what should be done with the site. The local planning authority encourages the developer to get on with building on the site as this is the new role that planners have. It's called 'enabling development' and it is one of the pillars of the 21st Century Enterprise Economy and a cornerstone of the New Scottish Enlightment. Planning permission will be granted though there may be conditions attached which the developer may ignore if he wishes. This is the nudge-nudge-wink-wink world at the cutting edge of the fabulous property development industry. Some will see this as some sort of Faustian Bargain but it is just reality - live with it!
Craighouse - look at that nice young couple - they are happy!
Look at that nice young couple - they are happy!

Let's look at this development from the expert planner's perspective. First of all this would be a great place to live! There are fantastic views over Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. Stunning! Secondly the architecture of the new development is breathtaking in its boldness and repetition - like an army of soldiers marching totally erect! Their flat roofs provide plenty of opportunities for private sunbathing and parties all year round. Unfortunately there are still some old buildings shown as retained on the site although I would expect these to be accidentaly set on fire as development proceeds. In any case I'm sure that they are full of rats. Of course it would be important to photograph these structures and record them properly before they were demolished. Some of them are in fact listed but this usually doesn't make any difference to sensible proposals for demolition.

I read that local people seem to be protesting about every aspect of this development - from the number of new buildings and their design to the number of trees being cut down and the overall landtake of the development. They obviously haven't heard about the beneficial trickle-down effect of new developments like this and the positive impact they can have on local economies. There is more money for the local authority through Council Tax, more work for local companies, more opportunities for young people to learn a new skill - the list is endless. Of course most of the protestors probably live in houses that were built on green fields many years ago. I just don't understand the selfishness and lack of perspective of these good folk.
Craighouse - lovely and regimented - with plenty of trees
Lovely and regimented - with plenty of trees

But - I'm not going to take sides in this matter as it is only my second post since the New Year and I am still overflowing with goodwill and full of festive cheer. Instead I would recommend that a healing process has to be started through which these shrill voices from the local community can be calmed. You know, people have too much spare time these days - too much time to sit around complaining about things that have nothing whatsoever to do with them. Sometimes it can actually become an illness in which otherwise good people become addicted to complaining. They are described as vexatious litigants. When I see children and dogs being used in protests against developers I wonder what the world is coming to.

I'm happy to have been able to help in this dispute and to bring understanding and tolerance to both sides. Best wishes to all of you and thanks for inviting me to comment.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy New Year!

My Hogmonay treat courtesy of Alex Dalgetty and Sons, Bakers, Galashiels
You know, I was home alone here at Auchterness for the Bells. I quite like to sit in the dark with my black bun, shortbread and a wee dram all neatly laid out on front of the TV in case anyone should first-foot me. It never happens of course so I just watch the tele instead. I've even got some crackers left over from two years ago and pulled one with myself! As 2014 approached I felt my excitement mounting. I was literally glued to the edge of my seat!

The Independence referendum is obviously one of the big issues this year and if the vote is Yes, I'm personally looking forward to the show trials, public beatings, stonings and deportation of quizzlings that will follow. In the Aberdeen area, I've heard that many people from the Scottish Enterprise network will find themselves with their head on a spike along the Union Terrace Gardens railings. In Edinburgh it will be the Princes Street Gardens railings - you'll get a good view of that from the trams! Macabre I know but that's the way that the public realm (as we expert planners call it) is still used in many new countries!

However, I've been informed in a number of emails from some of my followers that after Independence, my position here will be under review until I make a series of demeaning public apologies for statements made on my lovely wee blog. I'm sure if it gets to this stage, the Scottish Electronic Army will delete my lovely wee blog without even asking. I can see the statement in the Press and Journal taking a leaf out of the North Korean book. "Following the deletion of the Auchterness blog written by Dave Thomson, the country has been immensely strengthened and purged of factional filth."

Anyway just fantasising but really, you never know what's round the next corner. What I do know is that I will continue to produce in-depth analysis and bring you compelling stories from the exciting world of town planning during 2014. With this in mind, if anyone would like me to review a particular development I will be only too happy to consider it. For example just the other day, someone on Twitter suggested that I should have a look at Craig House in Edinburgh but I'm not sure if they were serious. So just get in touch if you would like my expert planner view on something close to you.

Lang may yer lum reek! All the very best to each and every one of you in 2014!