For Webcraft and Ken MacColl: It’s not an …

Comment posted Aberdeen votes by narrow majority for video game ‘garden’ at Union Terrace by newsroom.

For Webcraft and Ken MacColl: It’s not an either or situation. We are of course looking into the situation with the Oban CHORD project and we are aware that access to the entire Interim Business Case has been denied.

Anyone from outside the council has to accept that an Interin Business case actually exists and that it has been discussed. Not only is the public denied knowledge of the contents of this business case, it is not allowed to know what the conclusions of the discussion on it were.

Moreover, the meeting was asked: ‘to recommend to the Programme Management Board that £1,840,000.00 be drawn down to allow the 1st phase of the project as detailed in the Interim Business case to be progressed, subject to the adjustments discussed for the traffic interchange proposals.

This is a substantial sum of money to be drawn down with no public account of exactly what it is for – and to be drawn down on the basis of an ‘interim’ and not a final business case.

The Oban CHORD project is a labyrinthine morass of indefensible practice and as such, working to undersitand it is a slow process akin to dissecting a rat.

The Aberdeen division on the retention or radicalisation of Union Terrace Gardens raises issues of perspectives on planning for public spaces which are relevant anywhere.

Helensburgh faces the vandalism of the classical lines of Colquhoun Square and for no good reason.

Anyone who looks at the design approved for Union Terrace Gardens will see nothing organic but simply an overscale version of the short term concrete wows that were enacted in urban gardens back when garden makeovers where all the rage.

This is a question of design for public spaces – and we are all affected by such matters wherever we live.

Recent comments by newsroom

  • The view from Lochinvar: party of the century from the Commonwealth Flotilla
    On a point of fact, it is not CalMac but CMAL [Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited - also state owned] which commissioned and owns the two hybrid ferries.
    We wouldn’t have spent the money this way. It had too high a degree of the ‘green vanity project’ about it and there have been a range of unforeseen issues about which little is known but which have cost more money than originally budgeted, over and above the usual overruns.
    But the boats are here, in service, with good manoeuverability.
    CalMac does not – contractually cannot – choose the boats it uses. That does not mean that the company would or would not have preferred anything else in this instance. We have no idea of that position.
    The issue is one of the accountability of government to the public whose taxes pay for the results of decisions which are not always made on the defensible criteria, with informed perspectives and with the overt purpose in mind – on projects with no serious pressure to manage to budget. It’s ‘other people’s money’.
  • The view from Lochinvar: party of the century from the Commonwealth Flotilla
    There was a reason why MV Clyde Clipper and MV Cruiser displayed their seamanship in the very close quarters manoeuvre we reported after Clipper came out of her dock at Greenock.
    Clipper had run out of coffee and was being supplied from Cruiser.
  • The view from Lochinvar: party of the century from the Commonwealth Flotilla
    If I thought that was possible from the prospectus we’re voting on, I’d vote for it.
  • The view from Lochinvar: party of the century from the Commonwealth Flotilla
    I am angered by the light-fingered and incorrect allegation here that For Argyll can be bought by anything.
    If we go to an event to report on it, we pay the entrance fee in the normal way. No one buys us lunch. We do the paying. We ask for no funding for anything from anyone. And we do not go on jollies – which are alien to our possibly graceless but honest position. We are – and I am – resolutely not ‘clubbable’.
    This puritanism protects our actual and perceived independence because we can neither be frightened nor bought by anyone.
    For Argyll routinely and openly supports CalMac as a general principle, because they provide a necessary network of vital services for Scotland’s beautiful but economically weak west coast.
    We also take this stance because they do this in what can be impossible circumstances where they cannot even defend themselves against mistreatment and misdirection by Scottish Governments – which does occur and which can be personally punitive – because their sole shareholder, paymaster and controller is the government of the day.
    For Argyll has supported CalMac consistently and will continue to do so for as long as it is justified – because we see it as strongly in the interests of the west coast to have a single state-owned provider of this network of ferry services. This network is an ASSURED support for the survival of communities living in, usually, wholly uneconomic circumstances. We also believe that there is a profound value in the company’s unparalled experience and knowledge of sea conditions, ports and communities on the west coast. There is such a thing as corporate DNA.
    I accepted the invitation to be on Lochinvar for the Commonwealth flotilla, which was not one carrying a fee I could pay – and remain wholeheartedly grateful for it [but not influenced by it]. It was a unique opportunity to report from a specific perspective – the centre of the river and the lead boat – an event the like of which none of us may see again.
    All guests were given a personal lunch bag filled with what delightful goodies I have no idea, because I declined it.
    I left home at 6.45. I was at Gourock at 08.15. I was on the boat at 08.45. I got off the boat at Pacific Quay at something like 02.30. I had no time for breakfast before leaving home and between those two times I accepted one [good] cup of coffee on Lochinvar.
    Anyone on the boat can testify that I spent the entire passage with my eye glued to a camera viewfinder. I took 1,213 shots which took all night to review and all of yesterday morning to do the selection. I did no mingling and no networking whatsoever.
    I was there to work and I worked hard – to produce for others the images and the narrative that record this entire unique event in the most faithful first hand documentation I can.
    I am delighted and grateful, on our readers behalf as well as on my own, to have been given this privileged vantage point – which I used to the utmost of my ability in the general interest.
    Lynda
  • Triumph for Helensbugh CHORD as Summer Festival gets going
    We weren’t talking about the Summer Festival – which we have not experienced – but about the successful work being done under the CHORD project – which is demonstrably making it possible for folk to use the town in a more relaxed and congenial way.
    Of course it would have been better if the Colquhoun Square revision had been entirely completed – but with a full half finished – which alone offers a substantial area of very attractive public space, it’s not been a bad compromise.
    And next year should be firing on four.

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8 Responses to For Webcraft and Ken MacColl: It’s not an …

  1. I think this is unfortunately evidence (again) that, in Aberdeen, money speaks louder than anything else. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
    It’s worth comparing this scheme, which completely overwhelms the gardens and utterly destroys their character, with the previous proposal by Brisac Gonzalez for the Peacock Visual Arts Centre, consisting of three levels of galleries and arts facilities inserted under the existing gardens terraces in much the same way that the National Gallery basement extension was inserted under the existing building on the Mound facing Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. Diller Scofidio & Renfro are very good designers – who did a brilliant job in their High Line linear garden development of the old elevated freight railway bordering the Hudson in Manhattan – but they’ve been unable to work within, and respect, the character of Union Terrace Gardens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Is Aberdeen in Argyll now?

    Let’s have more focus on what is happening – or not happening – on the Oban development front.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. I have to agree with Webcraft here. It would appear that the citizens of Aberdeen, after a full consultation process, have been given the opportunity to express an opinion about the Gardens project.
    Contrast that with the “airy fairy” details available for the spending of a considerable sum of borrowewd money under the CHORD project in Oban on a scheme where information about what is proposed, costings, business plan (?) is not only denied to the general public but, it would appear, is only available in severely redacted format to those councillors who are not in the charmed Inner Circle. Yet again, what price democratic process in Argyll & Bute?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. For Webcraft and Ken MacColl: It’s not an either or situation. We are of course looking into the situation with the Oban CHORD project and we are aware that access to the entire Interim Business Case has been denied.

    Anyone from outside the council has to accept that an Interin Business case actually exists and that it has been discussed. Not only is the public denied knowledge of the contents of this business case, it is not allowed to know what the conclusions of the discussion on it were.

    Moreover, the meeting was asked: ‘to recommend to the Programme Management Board that £1,840,000.00 be drawn down to allow the 1st phase of the project as detailed in the Interim Business case to be progressed, subject to the adjustments discussed for the traffic interchange proposals.

    This is a substantial sum of money to be drawn down with no public account of exactly what it is for – and to be drawn down on the basis of an ‘interim’ and not a final business case.

    The Oban CHORD project is a labyrinthine morass of indefensible practice and as such, working to undersitand it is a slow process akin to dissecting a rat.

    The Aberdeen division on the retention or radicalisation of Union Terrace Gardens raises issues of perspectives on planning for public spaces which are relevant anywhere.

    Helensburgh faces the vandalism of the classical lines of Colquhoun Square and for no good reason.

    Anyone who looks at the design approved for Union Terrace Gardens will see nothing organic but simply an overscale version of the short term concrete wows that were enacted in urban gardens back when garden makeovers where all the rage.

    This is a question of design for public spaces – and we are all affected by such matters wherever we live.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Totally agree ‘.newsroom’.
      The Argyll Square roundabout in the centre of Oban was a beautiful ‘alive’ spectacle at one time, only to be vandalised with concrete, and token garden. Old pictures of the square are beautiful and vibrant, and any place considering ‘improvements’ should understand, when its gone its gone!
      The daft roundabout at Alexandria is another ugly waste of money surely.
      Whether its Aberdeen, Helensburgh or wherever a cool considered overview is a must and any local consultion must be given due prominence.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. This is great news. Aberdeen should have a vibrant public realm given it’s massive economic advantage. Instead it is a provincial backwater with little modern architectural merit.

    The key to the longterm success of this new square is how well it is maintained once it’s completed.

    We have a poor record of maintaining our public works in Scotland. Let’s hope Aberdeen builds in a proper maintenance plan in the project

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Graeme – have a good look at what’s proposed – the open space, ‘the square’, disappears to be replaced by a series of carved up spaces separated by very substantial bits of building – a very expensive monument to Sir Ian Wood, undoubtedly – but really destructive of the character of this garden in the city.

      Aberdeen is not a ‘provincial backwater with little architectural merit’ – the city centre has suffered from bad planning that’s allowed traffic to dominate and has led to the main thoroughfare, Union Street, becoming very down at heel, and driven out much of the retail life. Jazzing up what could still be a haven from the rush and noise of the streets isn’t going to cure Aberdeen’s problems. In Manhattan Diller Scofidio & Renfro succeeded in part because they had to respect the strong form of the old railway viaduct, and designed the garden within it – whereas in Aberdeen they’ve been presented with an existing garden, but have completely destroyed its form in seeking to create something novel and revolutionary. The previous approved design created very substantial new space to bring more life and activity into the gardens, but without destroying their form. I just wonder if this was seen as a missed opportunity to create a massive impact on the city centre to the greater glory of Sir Ian Wood and the ‘city fathers’.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. The current gardens are ugly and plagued with drug addicts. It is such a total waste of space and has no character whatsoever. The new scheme is modern and will have space for outdoor events, something else which Aberdeen is lacking. After the gardens, attention needs to be paid to Union Street. I think part of it should be pedestrianised like in other cities, this will also encourage tourism and draw people to spend more time on Union Street.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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