Sunday, 5 April 2015

Dandara to demolish Three Kirks at last

How the Triple Kirks site in Aberdeen might look with student housing
How the Triple Kirks site might look with student housing
Union Terrace Gardens in the foreground - excellent
You know, I’ve been supporting the redevelopment of the so called Triple Kirks site in the heart of God’s Own City (Aberdeen) for some time now. I first wrote about it in September 2011 then again in September 2013. Both articles were breathless with enthusiasm and I’m sure you picked up from my eloquent prose how enthusiastic I was about both proposals for the site.

The earlier proposal was by the Honourable Doctor Wee Stewartie Milne, then it was Dandara who stepped up to the plate, their jaws dripping with profit-induced adrenaline. Exciting stuff!
the original proposal - incorporating unnecessary religious heritage
the original proposal - incorporating unnecessary religious heritage

Now Dandara have played a very popular and clever card - moving from Grade A offices to ‘academic accommodation’ - in other words Student Housing! This is an excellent response to what are described as ‘market cycles’ - as reported in the Evening Express. It has also been reported in Urban Realm, Scotland's go-to site for property market gossip and tittle-tattle, where the proposal has been slammed by Tepid Mouse, Big Chantelle, Neo and Darth Vader who are currently John Glenday’s pet architectural critics. I’ll bet Dandara are quivering in their Gucci shoes at this rapier-like analysis of their plans!

Now let’s get a few things straight from an expert planner’s viewpoint. Firstly, their is no question that this proposal will fail - it is definitely going ahead as most developments do these days.

Secondly, I hope that the development will include the demolition of all historic features on the site - they are an impediment to development and a pointless reminder of the days when people actually went to church. If for some extraordinary reason a condition is included in the planning consent that requires retention of old structures, I imagine there will ‘an accident’ during a weekend when a bulldozer driver will loose control momentarily and demolished some listed structures.  I’ve also heard that a fire is often more effective and I’m sure people are thinking about some of the opportunities that flames could bring to the site - both in terms of an event which can be useful in marketing terms, then as a simpler route to the site’s future development, unencumbered by the cold lifeless hand of the past.

Thirdly, students will not be remotely interested in the history of the site or impressed by the retention of redundant structures such as spires or bits of old walls. Their focus will be entirely on earning enough to get by through working in cafes and doing a bit of topless modelling or escort work. That is the reality of student life these days and it is also why a very basic set of buildings is all that will be required on the site - no frills required as the buildings will only be used for sleeping! Maybe they don’t even need windows!

Finally, it is absolutely the case that student accommodation can have a positive effect on surrounding areas - supermarkets like Tesco Metro and Sainsburys Local, as well as Greggs and other well known brands will be up on their hind legs begging for a slice of student cash. It’s what we expert planners call synergy!

So what's not to like about this stunning intervention? I thoroughly commend it to you all and hope that Aberdeen and Dandara seize the opportunity to create a new development on the cleared site of the former Three Kirks. It makes sense for Dandara, for students and for the supermarkets. For this great city, it is another perfect opportunity to defy the miserable heritage and conservation lobby and grind them, together with their sandals and shorts, into the dust. A massive new erection on this site will be magnificent addition to the city, moving forward.

All the best from Auchterness. I hope you are having a happy Easter break. Cheeriebye for now and don’t forget to drop in for a nice wee cup of tea and a biscuit if you are passing. I think it might by Custard Creams this week!

1 comment:

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