Wednesday, 21 January 2009

It's a mad mad mad mad world?

Certainly it is as far as planning is concerned. The news that the third runway at Heathrow has been OK'd by HM Gov wasn't a surprise, but it isn't welcome news in this outpost of the Republic. Seems flattening historic buildings, and the village of Sipson of the buildings is pictured above) isn't considered to be damaging to the environment, and we can fly our way out of global warming. More about that another time. I have, though, signed up the Republic to own a bit of the action, and urge everyone to do likewise:

However, when it comes to planning, there's nothing to beat hearing of local democracy in action. Naturally all those who serve us on planning committees are the cream of councillors, with no hidden agendas and on the side of historic buildings surely? Well, maybe not....

If you really want to see the Planning Convenor of City of Edinburgh Council in full dynamic action in the City Chambers though, our old pal Youtube can oblige:

But be warned, the excitement may be too much for those of a nervous disposition.

It isn't only Edinburgh it seems; according to architecturescotland's Peter Wilson:

"Angus Sheikhouse

Still in the Highlands, two interesting tales this week from the world of planning. The first concerns the application on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Crown Prince and ruler of Dubai, to add a two-storey lodge to the 14 bedroom mansion on his Inverinate Estate in Wester Ross. Not just any old extension, mind you, but one split into three blocks containing penthouse chambers, a dining room, kitchen and a further 16 bedrooms with en-suite facilities and living areas. The local planning officers, bless their cotton socks, felt the design was “inappropriate and insensitive” next to the Victorian mansion and recommended that the application be refused. The same officials had some more interesting comments attributed to them in the press, not the least of which was that the proposals were “more akin to development found in business parks or halls-of-residence”. And of course there was a single objection from a member of the public who thought the proposed buildings were “like something you would find in the Arabian desert”. Fortunately the members of the Ross, Skye and Lochaber area committee are made of sterner stuff and approved the plans by nine votes to three on the basis that “the sheikh and his family are tremendous landowners and buy everything locally when they visit”. In any case, according to councillor Biz Campbell, “design is in the eyes of the beholder”.

Which brings me on to the second part of the story, an unconnected application lodged this past week for 5000 new homes on the Earl of Moray’s land at Tornagrain, between Inverness and Nairn. Designed to “new urban” principles by Andres Duany and scheduled to house 10000 (2 per unit, so clearly all DINKY’s* - new urbanism indeed) the £1.3m new town is due to begin on site in 2013, with developer Moray Estates expecting construction to continue for a further 35 years. Naturally, given the sheer size and impact upon the local environment, full and rigorous scrutiny of the application will be the order of the day and I expect the good Highland councillors to take the kind of pragmatic approach pioneered at Trumpton in Aberdeenshire and echoed at Inverinate Estate when making their decision. Astonishingly, some business people in Scotland actually want to reform the planning system.(* Double Income, No Kids.)"

Great stuff!

The Hootsmon has more details and quotes:

including this:

"The present Inverinate House was built 1929 to replace an earlier 1880 rebuild, following a fire in 1864. While it is not a listed building, planners said it was a fine example of Scottish vernacular architecture of its period, and lay within the Kintail National Scenic Area and special areas of conservation."

Severin Carrell in the Guardian has more from the planners, who didn't really seem to like the plans at all:

Meanwhile, that must watch (at least by Norfolk Conservation Officers and the like, who avidly sit glued to it to spot such things as illegal additions to listed buildings) Channel 5 telly prog 'Build a New Life in the Country' has exposed another glitch in our planning system, this time it seems that honourable breed the Estate Agent has been leading one couple astray where planning is concerned, and naturally they didn't think it wise to check before spending their gadzillions:

Oh dear, oh dear. Who would have thought it? It will be interesting to see how this one pans out. (Pans! Geddit? Potato store? Oh OK.)

Apologies for the blog interruption, a serious family illness has been occupying much of my time, but I hope to be resuming normal service as soon as possible, as there is a backlog of news both good and bad and in certain cases, downright ugly. Thanks to those who have sent items, the e-mail is on my profile, and all comments/discussion welcome.

PS - well done Gervase - another Blogger!
Love the jumper...

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