Friday, 30 January 2015

Marischal Square is so fabulous!

the fantastic new Marischal Square development  -Halliday Fraser Munro at their best
the fantastic new Marischal Square development
-Halliday Fraser Munro at their best
You know, when one of my fans sent me a message on Twitter last week suggesting that I comment on the latest developments at Marischal Square in Aberdeen I was immediately excited. In fact I was all lubed up and ready to go!

You will recall that I wrote an excellent appraisal of this fantastic development back in September 2013 but much has happened since then. The development has matured over the past 18 months. It has been stripped back to produce more profit for those loveable rogues Muse Developments who are at the helm of this magnificent erection, aided and abetted by the amazing Halliday Fraser Munro and a team of pimps, place-men and puppets. You see the Council has invited Muse into bed with them so someone has to clean the sheets afterwards!

As readers of my lovely wee blog will know, when Big John Halliday waves his enormous pencil around in Aberdeen, everyone appreciates the sheer length and breadth of his talent - that goes without saying! Of course he has many other tools at his disposal such as GCI which, for the ignorant, is a computer program that creates life-like pictures of future proposals. It’s like the old fashioned artist’s impression - but completely different! It’s a means of convincing the great unwashed that either the development has already been built and there is nothing they can do about it or that it is going to be so great and filled with so many beautiful people that they say ‘Big John, you are so talented and deserve my respect. Truly you are the Scottish Le Corbusier!’
Isn't this just great? I'm sure the old couple are loving it!
Isn't this just great? I'm sure the old couple are loving it!

Of course the plebs don’t like this development much and that includes many architects. Look for example at the comment pages of the trashy and ill-informed Urban Realm website where the treacherous John Glenday orchestrates dissent and hatred of all new development. In this case, Wonky, Don Diamante, Andrew Broon, Boaby Wan, and Stevie Steve have all contributed their best efforts at architectural criticism, entirely unaware of the fact that they simply don’t matter! Poor souls - even Glenday himself hasn’t the heart to moderate the comments. Of course he needs all the publicity he can get for his gossip rag so the more ignorant and inane the comments, the better it is for Urban Realm.

Anyway, let’s look at the latest GCIs from my expert planner’s point of view. Well - where do I start? This is one of the biggest erections seen in Aberdeen in the last few years and certainly a tasty mouthful. It’s the essential meat and two veg in any planner’s lunchbox and definitely fills a big gap!
the fantastic new development on the right - spellbinding!
the fantastic new development on the right - spellbinding!
I’m looking at the amazing view from George Street up to Marischal College: the imperious grey facades of the new development on the right immediately look superior to the dingy granite of the traditional buildings on the left - which will hopefully be swept away soon. I am confident about this because there is no place for sentiment in Aberdeen. Unbelievably, this great view prompted more than 4,000 campaigners to sign a petition calling for the plans to be rejected in favour of more open space. You couldn’t make it up, could you? It was so obvious that the original proposals were just a cunning trick to give the impression that Muse and HFM actually cared about what was built when in truth they only care about the bottom line!

I honestly cannot understand why developers bother trying to convince the Aberdeen public at all. What eventuates on this site will be the sole business of Muse - and that’s the way it should be! What possible contribution could a bunch of ignorant fishermen, riggers and ex-farmers make to this project anyway? It is completely wrong-headed!

So my hearty congratulations go out to Muse Developments, Halliday Fraser Munro and Aberdeen City Council - together with their team of pimps and stooges. It’s a magnificent victory for the development industry and for the planners who will approve this fantastic erection. It earns a gold star and nine out of ten in my little black book. If they hadn’t bothered with consultation it would have been a clear ten!

All the best from Auchterness - I’ll be back soon!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Neighbour Notification Notices

A typical scene from the slums of Fairmilehead
A typical scene from the slums of Fairmilehead

Hello and a Happy New Year from Auchterness! Let's get straight down to business!

You know, when I received a Neighbour Notification Notice last week from my Local Council I thought I would use it as one of my occasional advice notes on planning matters, prepared for you by your own expert planner. What could be better?

Now I know a lot of people quiver when they receive these notices. What do they mean? What should I do? Well my advice is to do nothing! I threw mine away without even looking at it! By throwing the notice away without objecting or asking tedious questions you will be playing an important role in The Enterprise and the future of our lovely wee country. I’ll tell you why. What this notice is actually saying is that the Council has received a planning application for a development which it is going to approve. It’s as simple as that! No need to worry about objecting or any such nonsense - you will be wasting your time.

Let me give you some recent examples:
  • Construction of 20 houses in the greenbelt on a Site of Special Scientific Interest - PLANNING PERMISSION GRANTED
  • Installation of UPVC Windows and Doors in a Category B Listed Building - LISTED BUILDING CONSENT APPROVED
  • Painting of External Walls of Buildings in Outstanding Conservation Area in Purple - APPROVED
Are you getting the message? Perhaps you need a little more information!
  • Application for 70 Wind Turbines in a National Scenic Area - APPROVED
  • Development of Business Units on a former Public Park - PLANNING PERMISSION GRANTED
  • Development of 700 Student Flats adjacent to a Category A Listed Building - PLANNING PERMISSION GRANTED
Great isn’t it! You see nothing can stop what we expert planners call Enabling Development. Nothing can stop the March of The Enterprise towards Total Sustainable Economic Development (TSED). We could call it the Aberdeenification of the country!

The next logical step in the process of enabling will be for Planning Applications to become unnecessary. This is to all intents and purposes the current situation as almost every application is approved anyway. Quite right too! It’s a victory for common sense and for The Enterprise. Nosey Parkers, Conservationists and Quiche-Eating Nimby Lesbians are all history. The World has changed! Wee Craigie McLaren and RTPI Scotland have triumphed. The days of women with greasy hair or even shaved heads having a say in planning matters are over. Over I tell you!

Take my advice. Next time you read an article by our own Wee Nikola Miller in the Scottish Planner Magazine you will sense the triumphalism in her astounding prose! The sense that the world has been put to rights! A sense that we have reached peak enterprise! A sense that we have run out of exclamation marks!

Personally I would love to find a woman who was strong enough to approve planning applications without even thinking about it! Exciting! A woman confident in her actions who can go all the way with a developer’s agent - to the ends of the earth if necessary! A woman who isn’t afraid to spread mustard over a sizzling sausage and bring home the developer's bacon. A woman who regards planning conditions as the namby-pamby compromise that they are!

You know, I think 2015 will be a fantastic year for everyone involved in our great profession. There is so much to look forward to. Here at Auchterness I will be pressing for wider exposure - since John Glenday at Urban Realm has rejected me as a monthly correspondent perhaps a series in the People’s Friend might be the way forward. Or perhaps the Sunday Post! We will wait and see. I will write to the treacherous Glenday again though I don’t want to seem desperate. I will keep you in the loop one way or the other.

Cheeriebye for now from Auchterness. Lang may yer lum reek! Don’t forget to drop into Auchterness for a nice wee chat and a cup of tea and a biscuit if you are in the vicinity. I think it’s Rich Abernethy this week.