Thursday, 19 February 2009

Save Our Old Town!

(Click to enlarge)

A Press Release has just pinged its way into the Nemesis Republic inbox from the Canongate Community Forum.

Here it is:

"Opportunity for city council to rescue Canongate from the ashes of Mountgrange" say campaigners

With Caltongate Developers Mountgrange in financial distress, a window of opportunity has arrived for city planners and the council to reconsider their stand on how the New Street Site is to be developed.

The buildings at risk from demolition should be bought back to life and serve the community and city’s needs once again and the council should freeze all work on land sales to Mountgrange in present situation, say Save Our Old Town campaigners today.

A UNESCO report singles out for criticism the way Caltongate scheme was approved by the authorities despite protests from a host of heritage groups and the community.

Earlier this week responding to this UNESCO report, which the council have just received Jim Lowrie, the council’s planning convenor, told The Scotsman -

"(The report] does criticise us over the Caltongate development. We are going to have to look at (that] before we respond in detail."

The campaigners are continuing to call on the council to uphold the decision to use the £100,000 Bond from Mountgrange to allow a temporary landscape scheme to be implemented on the New Street gap site.

The Old Town campaigners are to present the results from a year long project at a seminar this Saturday which decision makers as well as the public have been invited to attend.

Key Findings of the Report are likely to prove embarrassing to planners and politicians.

They include:

Having a living world heritage site in the city centre came out as a top priority but housing policies and city development fails to support this.

There is an urgent need for community facilities and spaces.

There is a clear lack of 'public' responsibility in the management of public space.

Small independent and start up businesses require support and initiatives.

Opportunities and sites for community development should be identified.

Urban communities should get access to '”community right to buy”

Pressure on council to keep a properly accounted and managed register of Common Good Land & Assets.

No more “selling off of the family silver” and no more privatisation of public space.

Over the year opinion was sampled from residents and public -

79% want social & affordable housing
77% want family housing
77% want play parks/areas for children & teenagers
70% want a better mix of shops
62% want more grassed areas & trees
57% want artist's working facilities

Report Launch Event Saturday 21st February

2pm The Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High St. Edinburgh (John Knox’s House)

More information and details of launch see -

The pictures above are (top) the Canongate Venture, former school then business start up facility, a listed building in a conservation area, to be sold by the council for demolition in order to build a conference centre (despite the fact existing conference centres are losing money and staff are being made redundant). Below, the listed Sailor's Ark (a former hostel for seamen) and the Ebenezer MacRae (city architect) model housing tenements. These are to be made the facades (the rest to be demolished) of a five star Sofitel hotel. A new high pend or opening will be driven through to access the new development. This is the Canongate, part of the Royal Mile and Edinburgh's World Heritage Site.
For further pictures and information see the site.


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