This is great news. Aberdeen should have …

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

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

Recent comments by Graeme McCormick

  • Powerful Baillie speech nails Scottish Government inadequacies on child poverty
    Jackie Baillie has no shame.

    According to the UK Treasury Dumbarton and thecVale were not deprived areas in 1987. I have a letter from the Treasury confirming this.

    In 2006 Scottish Executive statistics showed these two towns as the third most deprived in Scotland.

    In Lord Robertson’s words, a cataclysmic change of fortune.

    During this period Labour and Conservatives ruled Westminster while Labour lorded it over the local Council and Scottish Parliament.

    This change is Lord McFall’s legacy since he was the local MP throughout this period. Jackie Baillie was his handmaiden.

    It’s difficult to think of any other area which has suffered such a demise.

    Thank you, Jackie.

  • SNP Spring Conference in 80th birthday week – but with unfortunate slogan and Argyll business on the side

    While I would have loved for Helensburgh to host the SNP spring Conference or indeed one from any political party there just isn’t a hall big enough.

    In the spirit of A & B solidarity I think the time has come for Oban to get a new Conference and multi purpose venue adaptable to take large conferences and other events.

    Oban is arguably the most spectacular place to host such events and could take its economy to another level

  • Cable says housing has become unaffordable
    Houses are a affordable in Scotland. In virtually every council area in Scotland you can buy a 2 bed roomed flat , cottage flat or terraced house for under £100k. I buy and sell them for clients every week.

    I agree we need to expand self build and a land value rental could encourage the release of land towards that.

    Help to buy is helping but a better would have been for government to indemnify lenders for say 5 years for the top 20% of a mortgage provided that the purchase price did not exceed 90% of the Home Report valuation thus providing a sensible buffer to discourage profligate lending.

    Affordability also involves maintenance, repair and heating. Help to make existing properties energy efficient and compulsory maintenance funds should be established by legislation if necessary.

    Time limited planning permission would provide the impetus to release rural land for housing building on every farm in Scotland.

    Lenders look on Scotland as low risk. Repos, Loan to value percentages and size of mortgages are all lower than in the rUK.

  • Business Secretary Westminster favourite as unnamed minister in currency union gaffe
    The people who are driving the Indy debate in Helensburgh and Lomond are not full time politicians. Of the ten meetings set up so far of which we have had three not one speaker has been an MP, MSP or MEP and few are members of any political party.

    This is intentional and it’s diversity is our strength. Where are the Better Together public meetings open to all; why won’t they debate in village halls ; why won’t they put forward people to put their point of view?

    I’m all for keeping the politicians away and having a conversation with everyone else.

    The result of that conversation will decide the

    We have to talk and only one side is prepared to

  • Donors, public money and funding the independence referendum campaigns
    The No campaign has given up as the UK Westminster elite are so pre occupied with the General Election in 2015, It’s a sign of its arrogance and total detachment fro what is happening. I’m almost sorry for the BT foot soldiers in Scotland Who are being left to their own devices. If the truth be told the BT campaign in Scotland is almost exclusively ScottishTory worthies with Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs going public In a half hearted attempt to keep their highly paid jobs

    How many public meetings have even held by BT with speakers who are not politicians? Meeting times are not published. It’s a closed society.

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8 Responses to This is great news. Aberdeen should have …

  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.

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  2. Is Aberdeen in Argyll now?

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

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  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?

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  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.

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    • 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.

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  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’.

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  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.

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