Monday, 24 May 2010

The Caltongate Jig

The Scotsman have revealed that a deal is being negotiated between Edinburgh Council and Mountgrange's administrators Deloitte, with Allied London over the redevelopment of the Caltongate scheme.

The good news is Allied London are said be considering how to amend the plans to avoid the demolition of 2 Listed buildings and McRae tenements as they do not see the provision of a 5 star hotel as being integral to the redevelopment. However, it does not appear that much consideration has been given to the sale and demolition of the public buildings and Common Good Land on East Market Street which is now under investigation by the European Commission. 

The prospective new developers have indicated they would rather see the development more focused on 'government and commercial' uses (this sounds like offices,cafes and supermarkets). Still no talk of providing the much needed family homes then?

The residential character of Edinburgh's Old and New Towns is a fundamental characteristic of the place and something valued by visitors and citizens alike yet little is being done to ensure we continue to have a mix of residential properties in the City Centre. Throughout the planning process for the Caltongate development the urgent need for affordable and family housing was raised and ignored. More recently, during the consultation on the redevelopment brief for Argyle House and King Stables Road, the local community again raised the need for more affordable family housing and development to support the existing residential needs in the area, yet the focus still appears to be on commercial development and temporary accommodation (for students or visitors).

When is CEC Economic Development going to wake up to the changes happening elsewhere.
Many other councils have now recognised the value of communities developing public assets. Why sell them off in the hope that a sweet deal will encourage a speculative private development to start when the assets can meet an identified community needs simply by renting or transferring management of them to housing associations, community trusts and other third sector organisations?
Is it not about time Edinburgh caught up and started taking a more enlightened approach to economic development and allowed more resilient redevelopment plans to be considered.

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