Thursday, 19 August 2010

Church to bid for Odeon

The Evening News reports a new bid for the Odeon Cinema building in Clerk Street. Actually, the new bid doesn't appear to have been made yet so there may be a long, long way to go on this one.  In the shorter term the building is fast becomning an emblem of our failing planning system.

The current Scottish Government (actually Historic Scotland ) took from October 2008 to May 2009 to overturn a council decision to allow a redevelopment proposal to go ahead.  Earlier posts and the history of delay can be tracked from here.


Anonymous said...

Quality of decision is surely more important than speed? Research may reveal that the dossier lay at Victoria Quay for 6 months.

Perhaps CEC can share some blame for the delay: if they had accepted the initial advice from Historic Scotland then the longer delays would have been prevented, DHP could have sold it and the Elim would already be worshiping there.

Panmure House next.

Cameron Rose said...

Thanks, anonymous. Absolutely. But 1. delay is corrosive to the process of regeneration and development. For 7-8 years we have had a dead period in the heart of an area which needs life put back into it.
2. My view is that is that the quality of decisions has been poor as well. They give disproportionate regard to bricks and mortar and insufficient regard to people and the liufe of the community.

I'm not sure from your comment which particular pioece of advice you are referring to beign disregarded.

Anonymous said...

The empty building has been unfortunate at the heart of our neighbourhood but hardly corrosive. And as the petitions etc indicate, our community has strong attachment to the cinema as part of our cultural life. It's not bricks and mortar it's living memory and continuity that in a neighbourhood that can sometimes feel swamped by transient residents.

The owner/developer ignored the 2007 advice of the conservation consultants that they employed who identified the most important part of the buildng as the auditorium. Then CEC ignored the advice of Historic Scotland who wanted to upgrade the listing to category A. They had previously stated back in 2005 that they would oppose the demolition of the auditorium.

If professional advice had been heeded at any of those stages the current situation would have been avoided.The delay was not due to the planning system but to a programme being pushed through that ignored advice and sought to flout policy.

As you will be well aware the building could have been utilised in the interim if the owner had permitted it, it was a very successful Fringe venue a few years ago.

Cameron Rose said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for engaging.

My point was about delay being corrosive to regeneration and development - not so much the place of the building. A long shadow is cast on people who might be willing to invest in communities. Because of the hurdles potential investors often won't consider investing.

I appreciate your points about communities. But we can't always remain in the past. We can also encourage vibrant communities of the future.

I certainly don't consider Historic Scotland to be the last word on the balance between conservation and living communities. Indeed, I believe their remit needs to be rebalanced by the Scottish Government - to whom they are responsible.

There are limits to what we can do to instruct an owner how to use a building. Whilst there are proper limits to what an owner can do, it is the owner who has invested the capital and risk in the premises - not the critics.

Best wishes. CR

Anonymous said...

The owner purchased the building aware of the limitations for change. The paper comissioned revealed that they could have sold it on at a reasonable profit. I'm all for development but sometimes it ends up just looking greedy. Retaining the Odeon is not an impediment to a vibrant community, it is an opportunity to strengthen that community. If the localist agenda is rolled out expect to see more of this, even where heritage is not a concern.

With regard to Historic Scotland needing rebalanced, as a relatively new contributor to the planning system you will be unaware of how much it has moved away from conservation in the past decade. In fact, in the 3 years and 4 months you have sat as a councillor, how many planning cases has it referred to the Government? One. And that's across the whole of Scotland. Which highlights just how special the Odeon is. You have an asset in your constituency Councillor Rose, it's a real shame you don't appreciate it.

Cameron Rose said...

1. Limitations certainly. Some might say a lottery.
2. Could have sold . . .: That is speculative.
3. Retaining the full building an impediment: I am happy to have the full building retained. But the cost is 7 or so years (and counting) of lost, dead space to the living community. Time and again people lament to me the run down nature of the South Side.
4. Unaware: I have had discussions with HS and am well aware of considerable progress. The issue with the the Odeon is the lengthy delays in the planning system which cast shadows in many different directions.
5. As I understand it HS advised the SG to call in Tiger at Haymarket and Panmure House.
6. Asset? Yes but I seek to maximise the assets of the area. That means looking forward as well as back.

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to repeat myself here I'm afraid: delays were within the control of the owner but the avenues they chose to explore despite advice lead to the current situation.

Historic Scotland neither objected to the Morrison Street development at the planning application stage or the public inquiry.

If Panmure House has been called in that will be 2 cases in 3+ years. This hardly reflects your claim that they are unbalanced in their level of intervention.

Anonymous said...

My bad. They've called in the Botanics Garage in Glasgow too. That Historic Scotland, they're fanatics they are!

Cameron Rose said...

Whose advice? Yours? I need some evidence to suggest the 'advice' (I get it all the time!) came with a requirement to follow.
Apologies for my error re Morrison St. I understood the SG were advised by HS.

I'm genuinely interested to know the limits of their 'calling in'. My comments are based not just on the cited cases, but on others where their 'shadow' has cast a spell.

Anonymous said...

Professional advice from the consultants DHP employed and professional advice from Historic Scotland. You don't have to take the advice but when things get difficult it may have been prudent to take that advice. Just as the owners of the grandest country estates are custodians of their properties for future generations, so too is any owner of the Odeon, it being one of only 2 examples of its type left.

While Historic Scotland are responsible for refering cases to Ministers the recommendation is then passed to Reporters independant of HS and the final decision still lies with the Minister. The reporter's decision is based on national and local policy which Local Authorities and Planning Committees should be upholding. If you are interested in the cases they have refered go to DPEA, Advanced Search and select Historic Scotland in Type of Case. This will reveal 25 cases since the start of 2003.


Cameron Rose said...

Wait a minute 1: You are saying that the advice they did not take was from HS! I'm addressing the role of HS and challenging whether they should be the arbiters and whether a public quango should be so influential. And you are saying HS gave the advice which they should have followed! You are in a circular loop. I fully accept we work within the rules. I am suggesting the experience we have here means the rules should be changed regarding the role of HS because of the negative effect they have on communities and development.

Wait a minute 2: If I understand what you have said above, HS DID advise on whether Tiger (Haymarket) should have been called in. (And that is after they have made their pitch to the Planning Committee. And after the applicant has had informal discussions to 'comply' with the likely HS view.) And after the Reporter's decision is presented to the Minister, who advises him? It wouldn't be HS by any chance?

Wait a minute 3. How about dropping the anonymous cloak?

Ross said...

I tried to hire this building on multiple occasions for use as a venue during the festival.. and on each time I was given different reasons of rejection by Duddingston including claiming the building wasn't safe (which is clearly untrue)

Have you seen the folk at - they seem to be one of the interested parties now and having seen their plans for it I wish them all the best... hope they can get the funding they need though :/

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