Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Edinburgh in Decline

This week Edinburgh's record of urban regeneration was the subject of attention by Professor Richard J Williams of Edinburgh University.
Disguised as a piece on why Scotland can't be a country, this article in Foreign Policy, describes the failings of the city to plan and adhere to their own policies to develop a sustainable modern city and concludes
"Before Scotland can be a country, its capital needs to get its house in order."

Whilst the article does not contribute much to the debate over the real issues for independence, the need to get the capitals house in order is now essential for the future of its inhabitants, regardless of whether Scotland votes Yes or No in 2014.

Open and transparent systems, meaningful consultation and aspirational design are all needed to improve the urban fabric of the city and support the communities who occupy it.
This can be achieved if there is genuine consultation as described in the Scottish Government's Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill 
However if the Council continue to ignore views from communities and allow private interests to dictate public policy and procedures, the corruption and malaise of speculative urban development will continue to destroy the unique attributes of this beautiful City.

The recent consultation exercise conducted for the revived Caltongate plans are a perfect example of lessons not learned.
A consultation exercise was carried out which the public tried to engage in, despite it having been made as difficult as possible by the developers planning agents.
An exhibition and stakeholders workshop were held in November/December to 'consult' with the community and seek their views on new plans to be drafted. However before completing this consultation exercise  multiple complex applications to renew ALL the failed plans (with no real planning justification provided) were submitted.
Details of the new plans being drafted and feedback from the pre-application consultation exercises were kept 'under wraps' until after the very limited time period to comment on these planning applications for renewal had ended. This demonstrates the usual tick box procedures were employed and a truly disingenuous approach to community consultation.

It should come as no real surprise that the results of the Stakeholder Workshop clearly demonstrate the stakeholders desire to see major changes to the scheme, greater community involvement in the regeneration of the area and the need to develop a new plan for the area. NOT to simply renew consents for the failed scheme to 'protect the commercial interests of the developer'.

To date the new plans remain secret, however the Stakeholder Report has now finally been published. Although it is almost impossible to find on the planning portal you can download it easily  HERE

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